How Do You Apply Keyword Research to Non-English Languages and to Smaller Volumes?

You don’t have to be multilingual to understand how to apply the keyword research process to non-English sites. Here’s what you need to know.

Video Transcript

David: So, I think if I were to rephrase your question, Lidija, it’s how do we not only apply the keyword research process to non-English languages, but apply it to smaller volumes of keywords?

Lidija: Exactly. And multilingual languages, actually, because I’m also searching for English keywords for the English version of the site within a non-English environment, so to speak. So, it is targeting the small expat population.

David: Yeah, we’ve talked a little bit about international SEO, as we’ve talked about one of Dave’s clients that has not had to touch international SEO when it comes to languages. And also, that client was countrywide. This is a service client who provides services in a couple of locations. So, the search volume is going to be pretty small, right?

Lidija: Surprisingly small.

David: Right, exactly. And so, especially in a non-English speaking native country, for English phrases for expats, it’s going to be even smaller. Right? But the reason I thought this was a good question to talk about is that even if we are doing keyword research in English and we’re doing it in a country that speaks primarily English, the lessons from your question apply and help us because one of the things with the keyword research process that I really recommend everyone do is find data to corroborate the fact that people are searching for those phrases. Right? Clients are often the worst ones when it comes to identifying how their customers are searching for them because clients will use technical jargon or internal language. So, what we need to do, no matter what the client is, is figure out how the customers are searching for it. And the data allows us to see that. Now, if we have a service-level business that serves a smaller geography… For example, let’s say I’m a plumber. I can only travel so far to help with your plumbing needs. Or if I’m a gift shop, people are only going to travel so far to buy my gifts. So, if we were to look for a search volume within such a small area, we would find zero number. There’s no data. But we know people are searching for it, right? And we know, first of all, because if we just did the keyword without any geographical modifiers, we would see search volume for it, right? And what’s interesting is if you look into your Google Search Console, you’re going to be showing up for keywords that don’t include your geography. And that’s because Google has identified some businesses as being locally focused. A great example of this is if you have a pizza shop and someone searches for pizza. Now, when someone searches for pizza, they could be looking for a recipe, they could be looking for the history of pizza, but it’s more likely they’re looking for how to order pizza, right? And Google knows that. It can pick up that inference. So, it’s more likely going to give a result that is near them. So, if we have a similar kind of small area business that only serves a specific area, and we can identify that more people search for pizza than pizza pie, or I don’t know what another word for pizza might be, but we know that since more people search for the term pizza, regardless of geographical modifiers, we can then infer that in that smaller area, more people are likely to search for pizza. The area is so small we can’t pick it up. So, what I like to do when I do the keyword research is if my company is geographically focused because I provide a service that they may come to. For example, I always modify it with the word near me and see how many people look for an idea near me. Now, that’s English, but I’m sure people in Switzerland who speak German have their own version of near me, right?

Lidija: Yeah.

David: And so, you might find data for keyword near me, whatever that sounds like in German, because I don’t speak German. Right? So that might help because all you’re really trying to do when we use the data is come up with numbers to determine which keyword is best. We are never promising that this keyword is going to give you 10,000 visits a month. Right? Because that’s not really what the data means. We’re using the data to compare it against other terms. More people search for pizza than pizza pie. Therefore, we should talk about pizza. Right? More people search for plumber than toilet bowl cleaner. So, we should focus on plumber. And so even if you come up with zero data, you can actually expand the area and decide, okay, if we forgot about geography for a moment, more people talk about it this way than that way. Therefore, even in my small area, I’m going to talk about it in the way that’s more common. So, if, for example, my understanding of Switzerland is that there are several languages that are primary. There’s French Switzerland, there’s German Switzerland…

Lidija: French, Italian, and German.

David: Right. So, there may not be enough German data in Switzerland, but if you expand it to all German-speaking peoples, the odds are likely that the way most Germans, most people who speak German, refer to something is going to be the more common way, even in Switzerland. Unless you happen to know people in Switzerland, and that’s more of an Austrian way of talking about it. And that’s just not the way people in Switzerland say it. You’d know that. So, then, you can bring your experience, but the language is almost immaterial. You want to kind of expand the area to get a certain amount of data and then use that to say, okay, if a lot of people search for this rather than that, it’s probably the same in my small area. And so, I’m going to focus on talking about that because that’s how people tend to search for it.

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