Spanish SEO: 5 Do’s and Don’ts

Posted February 11, 2014 2:20 pm by Sebastian Aroca

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the Hispanic American community is not a simple matter of taking existing content originally created in English and translating it into the Spanish language. Effective SEO en Español, known as Spanish SEO, takes into consideration a number of technical, cultural, social, and behavioral aspects of the Hispanic American experience.

Poorly implemented Spanish SEO can actually be detrimental to a business in the sense that it can reflect poorly on the brand and even downgrade a website’s ranking on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). At Hispanic Market Advisors®, we often come across many examples of effective Spanish SEO, but we also see quite a few cases of poorly-implemented campaigns. Here we are going to compare the efforts of various firms highlighting best practices, missed opportunities and deficiencies that can make or break a website in 2014.

The following five “Do’s and Don’ts” are essential when it comes to doing Spanish SEO right:

1 – Smart Website Translations

The Hispanic American experience is strongly united by language. To this end, one of the most important aspects of Spanish SEO is to offer content in all languages applicable. In most cases, this will entail English and Spanish content; but, Portuguese may also be included to include Brazilian audiences.

Those who approach marketing to Latinos in Spanish for the first time are tempted to simply translate existing content from English to Spanish without stopping to think about consistency and relevancy.

Do’s of Website Translation

If the goal is to appeal to the Hispanic American community, a literal translation is not the right approach. The idea is to create a truly bilingual site that users can feel comfortable toggling between. To this effect, country flags to indicate language availability can be placed on the upper right hand corner of every page.

A bilingual website must be functional. This means that it should allow visitors to contact the business in either language. Separate telephone numbers and contact forms for each language are a must in this regard for inbound call marketing tracking purposes as well as to optimize the user experience.


Don’ts of Website Translation

Check out this YouMoz Blog posted by me last September 2013, listing 3 pitfalls to avoid when translating your site to Spanish. Translations should not stop at the content. Many examples of poor on-page optimization include templates that were not fully translated, which reflects poorly on the website. (Check illustration below).

Although most Hispanic Americans are fully bilingual, many of them enjoy shopping and doing business in one language or another. It is a cultural and personal choice that must be respected by thoroughly translating all website elements, from the navigation menus to the content and contact forms.

Instead of aiming for literal translations of content originally written in English, webmasters should retain content creators who specialize in the Hispanic American experience. Rigid translations that read as if they were created solely by a computer will turn off visitors.

2 – Spanish URL Schemes

Including relevant keywords in URLs is a tenet of SEO and Internet marketing. The same goes for Spanish SEO.

Do’s of Spanish URLs

When translating a website into Spanish, web design professionals should create a new link hierarchy that includes directories and file names in that language. The idea is to make SEO-friendly URLs that will rank higher on the SERP. For example:

[in English]

[in Spanish]

Don’t of Spanish URLs

Webmasters should try not to omit Spanish key words and key phrases from URLs if possible. For example, it is preferable to compose a URL such as

….rather than

Spanish-speaking or bilingual Internet searchers are more likely to search for a natural-language query such as “boletin de immigración.”

3 – Using Google+ for Spanish SEO

Facebook is currently the most popular online social network among Hispanic Americans, not surprisingly; Facebook has recently expanded its Miami office with U.S. Hispanics sales initiative, but Google+ is gaining popularity. SEO professionals are increasingly encouraging their clients to join Google+ for a couple of very significant reasons.

Do’s of Using Google+ for SEO en Español

Google Authorship is one of the most powerful features of the Google+ social network. This feature has been around for only a few years, and SEO professionals are starting to see its significant impact. In a sense, Google Authorship brings as much SEO relevance as the old Page Rank element of Google’s secretive search algorithm.

Spanish content creators can set up a Google+ profile that is linked to business websites. This profile should also be linked to each text or multimedia post published on websites and shared on Google+. By doing this, online authors are helping Google find, index and rank their Spanish content. Another advantage is that Google Authorship seems to improve the SERP rank of content by placing a small image from the author’s profile next to the search results. This image will ideally be a professional portrait photograph of the author, by it can also be a business logo. Many Internet searchers are drawn to these images and are very likely to prefer them over the top three SERP listings.

Having a Google+ profile that links to your posts from the “Contributor To” section, and linking your post to your Google+ profile using the “rel=author” tag, will help your rankings. The quicker your Spanish-language pages are indexed the sooner people will find your Spanish-language content. In other words, Google Authorship gives your connected content priority over other websites. Besides, I don’t know about you, but when I search online for some information I am looking for and I notice a professional headshot beside a result, I am more inclined to click on that post over the others – even if it’s not in the top 3 results. What about you? Leave your response here.

Note: the numbers you see below the post are stats from the Mozbar

To learn whether Authorship is working for your web pages, please check the “Structured Data Testing Tool” from Google:
Google Authorship is not the only important SEO feature that Google+ brings to the table. There is also the matter of local business listings, which in 2013 started to merge from Google Local to Google+ business pages. It is in the best interests of businesses to have a Google+ presence since this is how local listings are updated these days. The contact and geographic information of local businesses as they appear on the SERP and Google Maps is now determined and verified through Google+.

Finally, although there are many behaviors like +1 that can lead to higher rankings because they generate other causal factors – in this case a link, you want your content to collect as many +1’s as possible, so people can share the content with their circles on Google+. It’s not surprise that Google has been using Google+ to discover new content that is relevant to the readers, and many web professionals have discovered that URLs shared on Google+ are crawled and indexed quicker than before. Read at MOZ, Google +1’s Amazing Correlation with Higher Search Rankings
Don’ts of Using Google+ for SEO en Español

The worst thing a local business that caters to Hispanic Americans can do with regard to SEO en Español is to ignore Google+. The new Authorship and Business features of Google+ are too important and powerful to dismiss. Armed with a Google+ profile, a business should strive to keep its office and contact information updated at all times, and it should also be motivated with regard to creating unique and engaging Spanish content under the Google Authorship byline.

It goes without saying that plagiarism and content duplication are looked down upon and penalized by the latest version of Google’s search algorithm, Hummingbird. Content created under Google Authorship can be published on more than one website, but the author retains control and byline. Indiscriminate copying of Google Authorship content can result in a damaging SERP penalization for the copycat website. Copyscape and PlagSpotter are two duplicate content checking and monitoring tools you can use to search for copies of your content on the Web.

And in case anybody wonders, as you can hear from Matt Cutts (check video below), human translated content doesn’t cause a duplicate content issue. But be aware of automatic translations –like those done by Google Translate—that can cause issues and penalties when you are trying to game the system.

4 – In 2014, Spanish SEO Content is King

Now that SEO professionals have identified the massive business potential for Spanish language content that is useful, unique and engaging, company owners and principals should seize the moment. The Hispanic American community is large and deeply connected. Business people should keep in mind that many Latinos in the United States have strong ties to their countries of origin or ancestry; this means that interesting Spanish content can cross borders due to the affinity Hispanic Americans show towards online social networking.

Until recently, the online content revolution has been mostly confined to creating keyword-rich articles written in English. The Hispanic American community is now eager to find content that is relevant to them; for this reason, although I agree with Mark Hugo Lopez and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera that the story of the Spanish language in the U.S. is still unfolding, Spanish SEO is poised to undergo a content revolution in 2014.

Do’s of Spanish SEO Content

Straight translations from English to Spanish are not always the best option since they often result in content that is rigid and awkward to read. The best policy in this regard is to retain Internet marketing firms whose translators are also experienced in creating content for Hispanic American audiences. The idea is to inject a certain identity into the content; for example, a law firm specializing in foreclosure defense should take time to explain in which markets or metropolitan areas foreclosures are known as “desahucios,” “ejecucion de hipoteca” or “accion hipotecaria.”

SEO-friendly content for Spanish-language sites should not be limited to translations of existing English content. Being consistent and even prolific with engaging content for Hispanic American audiences should be a foremost goal for publishers in 2014. Articles and blog posts should be augmented by videos, infographics and social media content. A good idea in this regard is to commit to an editorial calendar that observes seasonal topics and holidays that are important to the Hispanic American community.

Don’ts of Spanish SEO Content

Inactivity and insincerity are the most damaging capital sins of Spanish SEO-friendly content, particularly in 2014. Simple website SEO is not going to cut any longer; Hispanic American audiences that are Spanish-preferred or Spanish-dominant are hungry for quality content and will be happy to reward the businesses who properly target them in this regard with steady website traffic and loyalty.

Spanish SEO-friendly content is more than just articles written in Spanish. Culturally-sensitive videos are very popular among Hispanic Americans, who are part of a multicultural community that can be approached in more than one language. The younger Latino generations are a bit more comfortable with English and like to have fun in Spanglish. What is important to remember is that the Hispanic American community shares and treasures certain values such as: Family, pride and heritage. Web content that fails to address these values will not be well-received.

5 – Spreading the Message with Guest Posts

The top blogs that appeal to the Hispanic American community will still welcome guest posts in 2014, but they are getting picky in this regard. If you already create and publish Spanish-language Web content, make sure that your content is culturally-sensitive and of high quality before asking blog editors for a guest post. Working with Latino marketing agencies and Spanish SEO professionals is the key to identifying guest post opportunities in blogs that are relevant among the Latino community.

Do’s of Spanish SEO Guest Posts

The key to getting a guest post published in a top blog is to ensure it is written in a non-promotional way. To this end, the guest post must truly add value to the audience. For example, an immigration law firm can write about how their attorneys are inspired whenever they reunite family members through the visa process. Check guest posts in Spanish published here by Boston Immigration Lawyer Desmond P. Fitzgerald.

When it comes to promoting the business, it should be done tacitly and in accordance with the editorial guidelines of the publisher. A simple quote that is perhaps less than one line of text should suffice.

Don’ts of Spanish SEO Guest Posts

Top blog publishers will certainly reject a guest post if:

  • It is too promotional or “salesy.”
  • It is profane.
  • It is not original.
  • It is not of value to Hispanic Americans.
  • It is outdated in tone, sentiment or content.
  • It lacks keywords or does not adhere to SEO.
  • It has misleading headlines or information.
  • It does not include high-authority sources.

Staying Flexible in 2014

The Do’s and Don’ts of Spanish SEO content above are just the tip of the iceberg in relation to the entire online marketing experience. Businesses that stay attuned to the dynamic world of SEO and the unexpected Google search algorithm changes are more likely to succeed than others. Univision’s success (and Telemundo’s too) speaks to the growth in the nation’s Spanish-speaking market—today a record 35 million Hispanics speak Spanish at home, up from 10 million in 1980. At Hispanic Market Advisors®, we believe also that 2014 will be a landmark year for Spanish SEO content, but it is important to stay flexible and quickly adapt to any changes. Thank you 2013, Welcome 2014!

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