When European companies think about expanding their ecommerce to Latin America, they don’t tend to take into consideration the culture, language and differences of each Latin American country.
Most companies want to target all these countries using one website or ecommerce site, therefore a lot of them do not succeed.
If a business wants to sell its products offline in Mexico and Argentina it will open shops in each country and customise its products and services to each individual market. Therefore, when it comes to selling online you should take exactly the same tailored approach – with SEO being a major part of this.
How to localise your website?
Firstly, you will need to decide what Latin American countries you are planning to target. In general, the most popular countries are Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia. After knowing your target market, follow the recommendations below:
Use the right language and keywords and localise your content
Although in most Latin American countries (except Brazil), the language is Spanish each have different word variations and dialects. See the example below:
Mexico – Colombia – English
Curriculum Vitae – Hoja de vida – Curriculum Vitae
Carro – Coche – Car
Boleto – Entrada – Ticket
Therefore it is really important to use the correct keywords, grammar and use of language on your website, if your target market is Mexico, your content should be about Mexican people and their interests allowing your content to be shared via social media, which is more likely to engage readers.
Use local URLs with local top level domain (TLD):
The correct domain name can help you promote your online business, or can drag your site down the rankings, in particularly in local search results. So make sure your domain name doesnt mean anything vulgar or wrong in the local language!
Also you can geo-target your customers with a correct top level domain (TLD). A TLD is used when the aim is to create an online business in a single country only.
Some examples of Latin American Markets TLDs:
– Mexico: com.mx (not yourcompanyname.mx)
– Argentina: com.ar (not yourcompanyname.ar)
– Brazil: com.br (not yourcompanyname.br)
– Columbia: com.co (not yourcompanyname.co)
A TLD that customers can recognise also helps with trust. By doing this you can also locate your server in the country you are targeting. This will help with page load speed. Latin America is a long distance away from Europe and UK and data transmission can be very slow in this case. Customers are the same everywhere, if the page doesn’t load quickly, they bounce!
Finally don’t confuse Google by targeting different countries from one country specific domain. For example, if your domain is www.yourcompanyname.com.mx you shouldnt use this to target Argentina, Chile or Colombia. You should only target Mexico and your website should have specific content about Mexico and this content should be written using Mexican Spanish.
Use a subfolder or subdomain on your current domain
A subfolder can be used when the online business wants to target different countries or languages and their main domain has “coma” TLD. The company creates different subfolders for each country. See the example below:
– Mexico: www.yourcompanyname.com/mx/
– Argentina: www.yourcompanyname.com/ar/
– Columbia: www.yourcompanyname.com/co/
– Brazil: www.yourcompanyname.com/br/
Another option is to use a subdomain; however this option is not very popular in Latin American countries. If you choose this option your URL would be like this:
– Mexico: www.mx.yourcompanyname.com
– Argentina: www.ar.yourcompanyname.com
– Columbia: www.co.yourcompanyname.com
– Brazil: www.br.yourcompanyname.com
To geo-target these websites, you need to specify in the Webmaster Tools which country you are targeting. Even though Google is the dominant search engine, dont forget Bing!
- In Google Webmaster Tools:
- In Bing Webmaster Tools:
Dont use a Generic TLD to target the whole of Latin America
Some companies use a generic TLD such as www.yourcompanyname.com. They think by using the generic TLD they can target all the Spanish speaking countries (Spain and Latin American countries except Brazil).
This is incorrect: it has been showed that country specific TLDs rank higher in the local SERPS.