When you’re building an online reputation, regardless of language, one of the most important things you can do is to use anchor links wisely. An anchor link can be either a text hyperlink or a clickable image, although for marketing purposes you will be more likely to focus on text links.
Search engines use these text links to help them rank your website in terms of importance. This holds as true for foreign-language search engines such as Baidu in China or Yandex in Russia as it does for Google or Yahoo.
A single text link pointing back to your company’s URL helps tell the search engines that you exist. Several text links in the primary language of a particular search engine will deliver the message that it is worth paying attention to your content. That search engine, be it Baidu, Yandex, Google or something else, will then be more likely to give your website prominence in its search results pages for that language, which in turn makes your target readers more likely to find and visit your site.
Think Variety in Your Anchor Links
Search engines are continually evolving and are now analyzing the sites they crawl in ever more sophisticated ways.
Diversifying your anchor text by phrasing each link slightly differently and using more than one keyword is a better strategy than repeating your website title over and over each time you link back to it. The latter technique will appear artificial and search engines are now smart enough to recognize this. On the other hand, language that looks natural and user-friendly is a great way to build search engine trust, and will be rewarded in those all-important results pages.
While varying text link references to your web content is a great way to build your reputation, you still have to catch the attention of real people as well as search engines.
Let's take as an example a vacation home rental agency with properties in France wishing to market to French-speakers. The high-traffic “vacances en France” or simply “vacances France” could work well in attracting the Francophone populations of Belgium or Switzerland to the French translation of the website. Someone already in France is likely, however, to search a little differently – possibly being more specific with their geographic area.
On the other hand, while using a keyword phrase such as “*location* vacances Luberon” in a text link will direct potential clients to a specific part of your business, unless you only have property in the Luberon, this is going to be too narrow a focus. Neither your properties outside the Luberon nor the potential clients for them will benefit from such a targeted link.
You’ll see a better return on investment by researching keywords that deliver higher traffic but where the competition is not so high that the top search engine spots are dominated by large and established rivals. Fortunately, competition is generally lower for high-performance keywords in languages other than English. For our fictional vacation property management company, “vacances sud de la France” or “vacances en Provence” would be far more promising for a foreign-language marketing campaign.
Getting Your Domain Name Right
Although you may not be using it in all your anchor links, don't neglect your primary high-traffic keyword. If possible, use this in your foreign-language website's domain name. While http://www.vacancesfrance.fr/ is taken, the name with different domain extensions (eg., .com, .eu) may be available. Adding a hyphen or an additional word can also increase the possibility of finding an available domain name using strong foreign-language keywords.
If you’ve already established a presence in a foreign market with a translated site, you can use your own company name as the domain, meaning there is no need to undo any of your work. A site that has existed for some time will have started to build a reputation with the search engines, while considerable patience is frequently needed to achieve the same result for a just-registered site.
If not, use text-rich anchor links to their full advantage by linking back to your foreign-language content using the most relevant and high-potential keywords. Over time, search engines can come to associate even the most non-descriptive domain name such as http://www.maryjane-doe.com/ with “vacances en France” and also with “vacances en Provence” or “vacances à la mer” if they find enough descriptive text links anchored to that domain.
With the right know-how, text-rich anchor links will soon become a vital part of your foreign language marketing strategy, meaning you have more time to reap the rewards of grabbing that number one search engine spot.