• Shane Smith

International SEO | Utilizing Google Analytics Language Reports to Create Converting Content

When it comes to tackling global or international SEO, creating content for users across multiple languages is tricky. Taking a look into different locales and cultures across the globe reveals not only that many things are known by different names, but also the style of verbal and/or written communication often takes on new forms that cannot be matched by translation software. This means that tailoring content for such a broad audience makes implementing SEO for international users a highly involved process. Even in one’s native language, there are significant differences in the meanings of words, phrases, and slang used depending on the region where it’s being spoken or written.

Let’s use the English language as an example:

Australian English: ute = A ute (/juːt/ YOOT), originally an abbreviation for "utility" or "coupé utility", is a term used in Australia and New Zealand to describe vehicles with a tonneau behind the passenger compartment, that can be driven with a regular driver's license. Of course here in the state s this would be considered a SUV or truck.

UK English: Brits go on holidays and Americans go on vacation.

I thought you mentioned Google Analytics? What's up with that?

Ah yes! Recently I was looking through Google Analytics (GA) data for a global client in the metal manufacturing industry who mainly sells in North America, but has the ability to sell all over the world. I make it a point in my SEO workflow to perform site audits for my clients every 3-6 months by freshly reviewing GA reports and sifting through data that is often overlooked by this service/platform (not sure which word fits better here). One of the biggest treasure troves of underutilized statistics found in Google Analytics are the language reports.

Where do I find these language reports?

First, login to Google Analytics and then navigate to: Audience--->Demographics---->Language.

Once you arrive here, you’ll see a breakdown of your site’s visitors over the chosen date range of data that applies to the different languages your visitors use:

Looking at this language report, I noticed a trend over the last six months: viewership has picked up for users visiting the site with the language code “It-It”. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive index available for the language codes used by Google Analytics’ language reports, so I’ve compiled a list of many (but not all) language codes for reference:

Google Analytics Language Codes

*Hot Tip - In some situations, it’s much more useful having the language code than the country code. By using language codes instead, you can capture an Italian speaking user who is located outside of predominantly Italian-speaking countries.

After observing the uptick in Italian speaking users with the language code It-It, I interpreted this language code as Italian from Italy. Looking further, it became clear that there are about 34 different Italian dialects! This tells us that it’s highly beneficial to utilize (and verify!) the language codes used by Google Analytics to determine the users’ specific vernacular.

So what’s your point? What can I do with this data?

Data is only helpful when we use it to create a plan of actionable steps, which is based upon answers to some critical questions regarding the data. A good place to start:

Look at metrics and site behavior to measure the quality of these users;

Are these users interacting with the site? Are they converting? Is it worth going after this percentage of users?

What next? How do we answer these questions?

First, we need to take a deeper dive into the data and look closely at the behavior of these Italian speaking users. What pages did they visit? What keywords were driving these visits? What content did they interact with? Having these answers will help tremendously as we begin building the content!

We also need to inform the sales team on findings and enquire about any existing knowledge of Italian clientele. Perhaps they have more information, or could reach out to current/past clients to find out if they search differently than what we’re used to. Another option is obtaining access to email correspondences between the sales team and past/current Italian-based businesses to locate valuable keywords and desired content to feature. In this research, we may even learn that a particular demographic of users calls our technology by a different name! Simply referring to a product, service, or technology in slightly different terminology than how it’s described by a company’s native language can have a significantly negative impact on global sales! Don’t get lost in translation - utilize that sales team! Something else to consider would be hiring a technical content writer who is fluent in the language of the users you’re aiming to grab! (Be mindful of their familiarity in the particular industry and part of the world, too. It goes without saying that content writing is huge, and finding a good match for niche topics is priceless.)

Once we have obtained enough information to answer our questions, it will become clear whether or not it’s worth it to go after a percentage of users. In my case (the uptick of It-It users), I was able to determine that the data was strong enough to move forward in creating content designed to capture and convert Italian-speaking users.

Check out my 3 part SEO on-page optimization guide to get rockin’ on creating content:




*Bonus Tips:

  • It’s most valuable to have your SEO optimizations of the page/content planned before any creative and web development work.

  • Give a shout out to the search engines! Let them know what pages or content are best suited for users who speak a specific language, such as our aforementioned friends belonging to the It-It demographic.

So much of content marketing involves preparation in terms of understanding the real life users who are interacting with and navigating our content. In learning how our visitors think, feel, and act, we can develop a target persona to be conscious of when building content. This gives us the laser-guided focus that is necessary in turning out powerful, polished webpages that lead to conversion!

If you’re looking for further information on the technical side of this topic, Neil Patel’s guide on targeting different regions and languages is a wonderful resource. Check it out here:

Well, that’s all for today folks. Make some time to sit back and enjoy the peaceful, loving, true and just things in the world. Hopefully you found enjoyment in this piece and were able to learn some helpful new things!

Until next time, ta ta!

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