Shouldn’t We Just Build Websites In Chinese?

I have a question for any bilingual readers of this blog, particularly those skilled in the art of SEO.

Do you find it easier to rank a website by building it in a foreign language?

This is something that has played on my mind for a long time now. One of the things that has always deterred me from SEO has been the sheer competition from millions of other English-speaking webmasters. I hate brushing shoulders with the urchins of Digital Point. The thought ruins my morning coffee.

It makes sense to me that somebody who has a perfect grasp of French, Spanish or German, would find life much easier to generate traffic when there isn’t such a global demand for the hottest keywords.

You don’t have to be speaking English to spend money. And most of us believe in the gigantic advantage of being first mover in a market.

My foreign experiments so far have extended to building landing pages in different languages and using the cheaper Facebook clicks to play arbitrage. This is something that I actively preach, and is rapidly becoming the best way for an affiliate to turn over a healthy margin – certainly on Facebook.

However, designing a website from the ground up and focusing an SEO campaign on ranking for foreign keywords is something that I haven’t nailed down. Surely it makes sense to do so?

It doesn’t even have to be the traditional affiliate website. Entire western web concepts can be ported abroad and matched to new markets where there is little or no competition. In some regions, that lack of competition is justified. There’s no money to be made. In other growing economies? Stepping out of your comfort zone seems like a lucrative step, dare I say it, logical even.

It’s no secret that the American economy is well and truly spitroasted, and Europe is hardly faring much better. The emerging economies of the world offer new opportunities, new growth and new demand.

Now while there are many reasons why China may not be ready for your lose weight fast campaigns, that’s not to say there aren’t areas that affiliates shouldn’t be seriously looking at and asking “How can I get a slice of that pie?

I’m going to be running a personal experiment over the next 60 days to learn a brand new language and develop a website that caters to one of these emerging markets.

It’s going to take me to epic places that I’ve never been before (the library), but I hope that by the end of these 60 days, I can proudly showcase a sparkling new website that lines my account with pesos. Or rupees. Or magic beans.

Stay tuned to see the calamity unfold.

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About the author

Finch
Finch

A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.

9 Comments

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  • In my experience with multi-lingual SEO, we found it infinitely easier to achieve a page 1 top three ranking for a Russian client’s website. They were in a competitive part of the property industry. It took us much longer to get onto page 1 with their English site.

    There was of course less traffic to the Russian one but that didn’t matter as there was enough AND a high enough conversion rate to make the exercise worthwhile.

    I’m thinking Brazil is a good market and one (when I get the time) which I am planning on exploring with a brand new site, I have tried to learn Portuguese and in fact there is a Rosetta Stone course sat next to me, the packaging now has a hole in, which serves as a reminder for how infuriating learning a new language is to me.

    I’m thinking building an outsourced multi-lingual team to build a couple of sites for me and see what sticks…

    I’m looking forwards to hearing how you get on though!

  • I have affiliates killing it with multi-lingual SEO. Its an easier playing field to get into the game. Even for media buys to PPC. There is just less competition or indexed pages to compete against.

  • datafeed sites in foreign languages FTW. You just have to find the offers. Zanox and Tradedoubler have offers for most of the EU countries.

  • I’d like to know how long it would take for overseas markets to become as saturated as the US/UK. I could see the initial bumrush of webmasters gaming sites in other languages making some big money. It’s inevitable that the g-hammer will come in and regulate such practices sooner than later.

  • Yes and no.
    The rest of the world is catching up quickly but previously you could have no.1 in usa and be doing $3000 a day and an equal number one in Spanish and be doing $20 a day from it.
    Chinese is very difficult to monetize and fraud is 1000x worse than USA or UK to the point that it sometimes seems they all have the same list of stolen cards they just pass round.
    International in English only became a real prospect maybe 3 years ago and before that it was trickles.
    English speaking international (non usa) is still wide open.

  • @Earl – When you say number one in Spanish, do you mean in Google.es, or just for general Spanish terms that any Spanish speaking country could be searching for?

    I agree that China throws up too many problems at the moment. I can imagine Chinese traffic would be tough to monetize if you don’t have the offers prepped beforehand.

    But as James pointed out, markets like Brazil (one of the two I had in mind) are showing really promising signs. Brazil also has the added advantage of a giant population.

    There are cultural trends I noticed in Thailand that have the potential to be milked in a serious way. Not least because the people are so passionate about what they like, and not afraid to pay for it.

  • I speak Swedish and definetelty think it is easier to rank clients websites over there, but there is nowhere near the search volume on the “big” keywords, so not sure if the roi is better…

    And definetely harder to outsource the grunt work, not many phillipines that speak Swedish…

  • Finch,

    I speak Hindi / Urdu and I understand the culture as well. The problem based on my experience has been that to monetize the traffic, it’s very difficult. Whether you are buying (cheap) traffic or using SEO.

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