Seo strategy

International SEO strategy for non-dominant linguistic audiences

The ability to target niche or smaller audiences in specific countries is critical to your success in international SEO. It can determine whether a business succeeds or fails.

But too often the only option site owners think they have is widespread geographic targeting by IP or a single language spoken by the majority of the population.

What about your options for targeting niche language audiences – those who are not in the dominant language of the country?

Create content in the target language

Start by creating content in the dialect of the language that the audience you want to target uses online.

Just like with standard international SEO, having content in the right language is the first step to success.


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If your target audience is likely to search Spanish online, even when Spanish is not the primary language used in that country, providing the content in Spanish certainly helps connect with them.

If you already have a Spanish site for your countries with Spanish as your primary language, you can use it to target them in countries where Spanish is less popular.

For example, you already have a Spanish site for Spain, you can use it to connect Spanish speakers or expats in Germany instead of creating a whole new Spanish site for people in Germany.

It may seem like a lot of work and not as efficient, but this practice of offering information in their language is efficient, and many organizations are already doing it (especially with offline material).


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If you go to cities like New York and San Francisco where many languages ​​are spoken, you will find newspapers with information about the city and restaurant guides in different languages.

Emigrants can read in English, but these local businesses understand that providing the information in their native language allows them to connect more directly with these valued customers.

Use Hreflang tags to help content be discovered by your audience

I’ve written about using Hreflang tags here before, and it’s a must have tool for international SEO in terms of audience targeting.

Either you have a language site for several countries or one for each country. You should be careful with the settings of the Hreflang tags when targeting a minority language group.

Example 1: Target English speakers in Japan

You have an English website targeting people in the United States, and now you want to target English speakers in Japan. You can use the same site by adding another Hreflang tag.

Your current Hreflang tag should be “en-us”.

You can either replace it with “en” to target English speakers anywhere, or add another tag with “en-jp” for the same URL to indicate that it is also the English spoken in Japan.

If you create a separate English site specifically for English speakers in Japan, you use “en-jp” for the pages on that site and use “en-us” for the site designed for the United States.


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Example 2: Targeting Japanese speakers in the United States

Japanese is considered to be a language of one country. This means that the Japanese are the only group of people who speak the language and the majority of Japanese reside in Japan.

For this reason, you can usually create a Japanese site and use “ja” as the Hreflang tag. If you want to target the nearly 450,000 Japanese residents in the United States as well as Japan, you can use “ja-us” and “ja-jp”.

Example 3: Excluding Japanese speakers outside of the United States and Japan

This cannot be done with Hreflang tags as they do not offer an opt-out option.


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You can manage this by using IP detection to exclude anyone trying to access the site outside of the United States and Japan.

(Do not block search engine robots!)

Locating content is also useful by using region-specific information, including currencies, metrics, and addresses.

Localize the language for the audience

It’s not just about localizing English to Japanese, it’s about using the right content format for the target audience.

Japanese in the US can use different keywords and search using katakana or kanji characters.

The first two points are probably obvious to many smart SEO pros, but even they often overlook this last point.


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It’s important to understand that the queries people use to search are heavily influenced by the country in which they live.

It is very likely that they will use different words and phrases to search for information that is the same or similar to that of a person in the primary language market.

For example, Japanese engineers living in Japan use “ア ッ テ ネ ー タ” for “attenuator,” while Japanese engineers living in the United States may use “ア テ ニ ュ エ ー タ” which looks more like an attenuator.

Likewise, you find the difference in popularity as a search query with “計 装 ア ン プ” versus “イ ン ス ツ ル メ ン テ ー シ ョ ン ア ン プ” for “instrumentation amplifier” and “ジ ャ イ ロ セ ン サ ー” versus “ロ ジ ス イ サ ー” against “ロ ジ ス イ サ ー” .

This is not unique to the Japanese, but also to many people living abroad.


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If you have multiple sites in the same language targeting different countries, you may want to conduct a quick research project to understand the words your target audience uses in each country. It goes beyond spelling differences.

By the way, your paid research colleagues can appreciate the data as well.


Audience targeting for international SEO isn’t always as simple as mapping the language to the country.

In general, having one site per language makes it easier to manage, but you might miss out on huge opportunities by not targeting nuances in a specific country.

In order to maximize the business opportunity, I also recommend that you research queries in each country, even when the audience speaks the same language, and never leave them as copied versions.


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