Does Google use Language as a Ranking Factor?

3 min read
Does Google use language as a ranking factor?

When we talk about SEO ranking factors we keep highlighting good content, authority sites, and more other prominent tactics. But Language is also a factor to ponder upon. Websites in multiple languages allow you to target people based on their language preference and make them feel more familiar with the content.

Let’s take a simple example, a website owner needs to promote a service in a certain region where people mostly speak a regional language and English as their second language.

It’s true that content in English will help him reach a larger audience but a version of the same content in a regional language will target the right kind of audience.

 Your content should be written in English if you want to reach out to those who know the language.

The same English content, on the other hand, is unlikely to score high in markets dominated by Chinese, Arabic, or Spanish.

Businesses that wish to reach customers in certain nations that speak different languages can do so by producing content in numerous languages.

But, if you are still in dilemma if it will affect your organic ranks, follow through to know how you can optimize your site for the same

If your site offers different content to users in different languages, countries, or regions, you can optimize Google Search results for your site.

Background:

  • A multilingual website is any website that offers content in more than one language. For example, a Canadian business with English and French versions of its site. Google Search tries to find pages that match the language of the searcher.
  • A multi-regional website is one that explicitly targets users in different countries. For example, a product manufacturer that ships to both Canada and the United States. Google Search tries to find the right locale page for the searcher.

Some sites are both multi-regional and multilingual: for example, a site might have different versions for the USA and for Canada, and both French and English versions of the Canadian content.

Let’s see how you can manage sites in different languages for more visibility.

 

Use different URLs for different language versions

Google recommends using different URLs for each language version of a page rather than using cookies or browser settings to adjust the content language on the page.

If you use different URLs for different languages, use hreflang annotations to help Google search results link to the correct language version of a page.

If you prefer to dynamically change content or reroute the user based on language settings, be aware that Google might not find and crawl all your variations. This is because the Googlebot crawler usually originates from the USA. In addition, the crawler sends HTTP requests without setting Accept-Language in the request header.

Tell Google about your different language versions

Google supports several different methods for labeling language or region variants of a page, including hreflang annotations and sitemaps. Mark your pages appropriately.

Make sure the page language is obvious

Google uses the visible content of your page to determine its language. We don’t use any code-level language information such as lang attributes, or the URL. You can help Google determine the language correctly by using a single language for content and navigation on each page, and by avoiding side-by-side translations.

Translating only the boilerplate text of your pages while keeping the bulk of your content in a single language (as often happens on pages featuring user-generated content) can create a bad user experience if the same content appears multiple times in search results with various boilerplate languages.

Use robots.txt to block search engines from crawling automatically translated pages on your site. Automated translations don’t always make sense and could be viewed as spam. More importantly, a poor or artificial-sounding translation can harm your site’s perception.

Let the user switch the page language

If you have multiple versions of a page:

  • Consider adding hyperlinks to other language versions of a page. That way users can click to choose a different language version of the page.
  • Avoid automatic redirection based on the user’s perceived language. These redirections could prevent users (and search engines) from viewing all the versions of your site.

Use language-specific URLs

It’s fine to use localized words in the URL, or to use an Internationalized Domain Name (IDN). However, be sure to use UTF-8 encoding in the URL (in fact, we recommend using UTF-8 wherever possible) and remember to escape the URLs properly when linking to them.

Targeting site content to a specific country (geotargeting)

You can target your website or parts of it to users in a single specific country that speaks a specific language. This can improve your page rankings in the target country, but at the expense of results in other locales or languages.

To know more about this here is an article for your reference – Advanced SEO

 

Sarkar’s two cents

On Google’s page about how search algorithms operate, language is addressed. Language is also available in Google Search Central’s Advanced SEO documentation.

Although language and country options are not officially confirmed by Google to be a ranking component, they do affect visibility in search for users who pick a certain language and area.

As a result, we’re fairly certain that language is a Google ranking factor.