At my office of 20 people, two speak German and one speaks Spanish. Some of us know a bit of Italian, and we’ve had a Polish speaker and a few who were proficient in French. We’ve had recent requests for work in French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Swedish.
Link building is a much easier task to outsource than many other aspects of SEO. If I were a French site owner wanting to market my French site, I’d be fine with a native English speaker who could write just well enough in French in order to send out emailed link requests and read the responses, for example. I would not at all be happy with the idea of a non-proficient French speaker writing my content.
Use A Formula
We have a general formula for non-English language sites that are hosted outside of the US. Let’s use Sweden as an example since it’s been my most recent conversation:
- Links on Swedish-hosted sites in Swedish language 75%
- Links on non-Swedish-hosted sites in Swedish language 10%
- Links on Swedish-hosted sites in non-Swedish languages 10%
- Links on non-Swedish-hosted sites in non-Swedish languages 5%
Note that I am making no distinction on how you build links with these percentages, as the point is simply that you should make an effort to add some variety to your portfolio. I am also not proposing to have any concrete data on how geo-location plays into this; again, I am only pointing out that if you work on foreign sites, it’s good to approach your link building efforts with an idea of how to vary the links to make a nice profile.
The Link Conversation
Lots of people all over the world speak English but there’s a benefit to conducting an exchange in the speaker’s native tongue. Our link builders have more success when writing in German when approaching a German site than they do when they’re writing in English, for example. However, for some other languages where we have link builders who are semi-proficient in the language, we usually do it in English and, while the conversions we get may be slightly less, they’re still quite good. We also have the luxury of dealing with non-native English speakers who view us as a chance to practice their own English skills, so sometimes that can definitely work in our favor. Just figure out which language the website owner would prefer to use, and if you can handle it, use that.
Learn What Is Legal
This sounds kind of silly to say out loud…but certain industries pose a challenge when marketing at times. Online gambling, for example, is illegal in many countries. However, as most people know, that means very little. I would definitely advise you to learn the ins and outs of what is legal and what is illegal when you’re dealing with certain sensitive niches in different countries.
Familiarize Yourself With the Locals
I don’t mean to get all anthropological on you, but it’s a good idea to at least know a little bit about the culture of the people that you’re approaching so that you don’t inadvertently offend anyone. Many times, simply emailing and asking for a link is enough to make someone’s head spin around, so why bother adding to that by accidentally insulting the webmaster? I think we’ve all seen those funny signs in languages that, when translated into English, mean something totally absurd. What may be a peace sign in the US might be a very insulting gesture in another country…apply that to how you approach people online. No matter what your industry or location, it’s important that you approach link building by giving consideration to the fact that the world is a much smaller place than many people might think. My favorite fashion blogs tend to be Scandinavian. Most of the music sites that I like are in the UK. A great deal of the traffic that comes to my link agency site is from England, as are many of my proposal requests. Why not mimic this pattern in your link building?