Not all Spanish-speaking countries are alike. This should be obvious – after all, not all English-speaking countries are alike.
Spanish-speaking countries all have different forms and dialects of the Spanish language that they use, which is just one of the ways that they differ. They also differ in terms of search marketing for ways of conducting business and responding to search queries.
This post will help you understand the nuances of Latin American search marketing and what you can do to help your campaigns over the hurdles that are often faced with so many countries under a single language.
I will always be a strong advocate for having independent URLs for your country targeting. However, with so many Latin American countries, it might not seem entirely doable.
With that said, if you're going to use the same URL for your site, you will want to avoid duplicate content issues by making sure your HREFLANG and canonical tags are in order.
A best practice for multilingual SEO is the use of canonical URL tags. Creating these tags on your site pages will eliminate self-made duplicate content issues.
Having duplicate content can result in loss of traffic, poorer rankings, and lower relevancy for engines. A canonical tag will make multiple pages considered as one page to the engines and it does this without redirecting visitors to a new URL. Placing the tag on the site will allow users to view content in their language of preference.
Another good tactic is using the hreflang attribute. This type of tag is used to accurately determine the language and the country targeting of websites.
Hreflang tags are necessary for fully translated pages and pages that have similar content. Creating pages with both these tags will be better for optimization when targeting places like Latin America where each country speaks a variation of the same language.
When pages have minor but significant differences in content, then using rel="canonical" may not have as much impact as alternative hreflang annotations. Going into more detail about this is an article in itself, however, if you need help, check out Google's support page on the topic.
Make sure to also set up your sitemap and Webmaster Tools correctly which will also signal Google with which page belongs to which country.
If you ever want to see an Argentinian go ballistic on you, then call him a Mexican. While both appreciate being of Latin American descent (and they aren't rivals), both just have different variations of their language and culture and they don't feel any more related then one person who lives in the U.S. feels toward a South African (note: I'm personally refraining from using "Hispanic" since that implies they are Spanish-speaking living in the U.S.).
Beyond the fact that Mexico, Argentina, and Spain are different countries, they all speak different forms of the Spanish language and they all differ in many ways in regards to search marketing. The cultural differences between North American countries and South American/Latin American cultures are vast. It is important when implementing search marketing in Latin America to be observant and respectful of these differences, which is just another way that the Spanish-speaking countries differ from each other.
These countries also vary in they conduct business by formality. The language tone and formal use of the language is implemented each country differently. The country may have customary bargaining in business while the other might not. Relationships in the business are usually seen as more important than rules and importance of a business hierarchy should be noted as well.
Cultural differences in the use of technology abound in Latin American countries.
Mexico has the highest number of Web-based page views accessed from a smartphone or tablet.
Argentina Web users are more likely to view online video content. Also, about 60 percent of product reviews are shared in face-to-face conversations as opposed to via social media like many other countries.
Spaniards are less likely to multitask or media mesh when using the Web, only 54 percent of Web users use more than one media avenue at a time. Also to be noted is that Spaniards shop less frequently online and are more likely to use at social networks to research a product before purchasing it.
Mexico, Argentina, and Spain all have their different cultural nuances besides speaking different forms of the language. Knowing each market thoroughly is important for best practices when marketing to these countries.
The key to search marketing in Latin America countries is knowing the local dialect or language spoken, having relevant content, and utilizing a relevant channel when targeting the demographic. Make sure you research the culture of each country by employing natives from that country.
A Spaniard from Spain won't provide you the best cultural localization tactics for Mexico or Peru and vice versa. Make sure that you use natives from the countries you're targeting.
Due to the very rich history of Spanish there are many different forms of the language. The language is spoken in many different countries giving a very unique spin on the language spoken in these different regions.
Even within each region Spanish speakers put their own spin on the language with their slang and pronunciation. Overall, 10 major Spanish dialects are spoken in the world. The many variations of Spanish make it important and a little more difficult for search marketing when it comes to translations and localization.
In Spain there are three major forms of Spanish spoken, collectively they are referred to as Peninsular Spanish.
Castilian Spanish is the form of the language that is considered the official Spanish language and is spoken in northern and central Spain.
Andalusian is a form spoken in southern Spain and is the second-most popular form of the Spanish language in Spain. Andalusian has a softer sound when spoken due the dropping of consonants.
In the community of Murcia, in southeast Spain, the form Murcian is spoken.
Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and most other South and Central American countries speak the form known as Latin American Spanish. Each of these countries also have their own variation of the language, it is referred to as Latin American Spanish in order to distinguish it from the Spanish spoken in Spain.
In Argentina and Uruguay the most common form the language spoken is Rioplatense Spanish. This form is different because it sounds more like Italian. Rioplatense is spoken in the River Basion region of the two countries.
This demonstration of the various dialects in the many Spanish-speaking regions is extremely important to consider when entering the Search Marketing industry in these Spanish-speaking countries. Becoming aware of the dialects and intonations that each targeted country uses will help tremendously within your keyword research efforts.
Two of the biggest differences, each worth a lesson in itself, are the leísmo of Spain and the use of the pronoun vos in some areas instead of tú. Another major difference is that vosotros is often used as the plural of tú (the singular familiar "you") in Spain, while in Latin American ustedesis usually used. There are also numerous small differences, many involving colloquial usage.
There are plenty of differences between Spanish-speaking countries that you can embellish on. By refining your tactics and treating each country as its own language, culture, and search project, you'll find better success and you might even make some good friends while at it.