Trying to optimize your videos can be like an art-form at times, but what happens when you want to go global? With foreign language use online growing at phenomenal rates, more and more video producers—amateurs and professionals alike—are choosing to go multilingual. And it certainly makes sense. A recent Eurobarometer survey found that 9 out of 10 EU Internet users preferred to use their native language to read or watch content on the Internet.
We’re sure you’ve heard it all before, but YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world. If you’ve dabbled with online video already, you’ll probably know how important it is to optimize your videos so people can find them. After all, people will find you through ‘traditional’ search engines like Google or Bing too.
While many aspects of multilingual video SEO (VSEO) remain the same, there are some distinct differences that you’ll need to think about when optimising your video for an international audience.
Setting Up Different Channels
Your first port of call is to set up a different account for each of the languages you intend to broadcast in. International telecommunications giant Vodafone has separate channels for its customers from Albania to New Zealand and everywhere else in between (we lost count after about 15 channels including Qatar and Ghana!).
Even if you’re not planning on achieving total global video domination, it’s worth it. Nothing will alienate your foreign language viewers more than broadcasting one message in a dozen different languages from one channel! Also don’t forget that something as simple as the country name might be in a different language. To an English-speaker, it’s Germany, to a native it’s Deutschland. This will need to be reflected in your account name if you choose to use country names to differentiate between channels.
Any video you then upload (whether you decide to subtitle, or to reshoot in a different language if you’re feeling brave enough) to your foreign language channel will need everything perfectly optimizing for your new global audience. And we mean everything. Your channel bio, your video title, your keywords and tags (and if possible, any comments you make) will all need to be translated and optimized.
Getting Keywords Right
Unfortunately it’s not as easy as simply translating your existing keywords or tags directly into your target language(s). After all, people don’t speak the same language, and in many cases, they don’t search in the same ways either. You can even find major search differences in those whose native language is English. For example someone wishing to soothe a child in America would search for a ‘pacifier‘, while a British person would be looking for a ‘dummy‘. Add in a foreign language or two and suddenly you’re out of your depth!
One of the easiest ways to get your keywords right is to draft in the help of a native speaker, preferably one who lives in the country where the target language is spoken. This way they can be on top of any new trends or changes in the language—particularly important when it comes to the topic of media and technology.
For the amateur video producer or marketer, it’s doubtful that you’ve got a load of spare cash lying about (who has?!) for professional translators. Google Translate is a handy online tool that be used when you’re desperate, but do be warned it’s far from perfect.
Pay particular care when translating single keywords that might have two (or even more) meanings, as translating software won’t be able to tell the difference and may translate the incorrect meaning. Also be aware of idioms or metaphors, as translation software tends to muddle these up. What’s worse is that you won’t even know about this until your video’s gone live and some kindly soul points it out to you with a snigger.
Testing The Waters
If you reckon you’ve got your keywords right, you can use Google’s handy AdWords tool to see how popular they’re going to be, and how much competition there is online. The joy of foreign language keywords is that owing to less foreign language content (and particularly videos geared towards foreign language speakers), there’s less competition, meaning it’s much easier to stand out among the crowds.
Don’t just assume that Google and YouTube are the mainstays for your shiny new multilingual videos. In China, for example, Baidu is the search engine of choice and YouTube is famously banned! Instead, sites such as Youku and Tudou are what Chinese-speakers are using to watch videos. Do your research carefully on each country that you intend to target and discover where natives are searching for their video fix.
Don’t forget to monitor your progress regularly and adapt your strategy according to what is and isn’t working. With a little insight and some well-thought out tweaks here and there, you can soon find yourself appealing to viewers the world over.