We all agree that in this digital and social era content is “King.” If creating compelling content is #1 priority for any solid SEO campaign, why don’t we apply the same principal for Hispanic campaigns in the US? Most of these campaigns have fallen short in creating compelling and meaningful content to serve this growing market.
As we can see in this white paper conducted by Univision, the Hispanic market in the US is not only becoming bigger; but it is also growing in complexity; as a result many companies are still having trouble mastering this demographic group, especially from an SEO perspective.
Check out some stats by Pew Hispanic Research. They give a great framework to understand this evolving demographic:
Native-born Latinos are more likely than foreign-born Latinos to be online (81% vs. 54%). Spanish-dominant populations trail bilingual and English-dominant Hispanics in Internet use. Some 37% of Spanish-dominant Latinos have Internet connection at home, compared to 61% of bilingual Latinos and 77% of English-dominant Latinos.
Most of US-born Latinos will consume English media; therefore, they will search in English. According to Pew Hispanic, English proficiency is closely linked with the Internet use. More young English-dominant Latinos use Internet (87%) compared to bilingual Latinos (77%) or Spanish-dominant Latinos (35%).
Fox News Latino created an entire site in English targeted to the Latino population. His site drew 3.3 million unique visitors in June of 2012.
Here are the 6 main reasons of why some “Spanish SEO Campaigns” are bound to fail. These tips may help you get on track and avoid common stereotypes:
1.You are only translating content
Most Spanish sites are poorly translated. Bad translations won’t add any value to the visitor, and also may hurt them in search results. According to Google, bad translations (besides bad brand perception) can harm a site as it can be seen as spam.
Tip #1: Find an agency that doesn’t only translate or use translation tools. Spanish is a complex language; sometimes, a translated word will change the meaning within the context of a sentence. Strategize about the content that you’re planning to create. Consider where your audience is coming from. A person from Mexico may have different consumer habits than a person who grew up in Argentina or Colombia – always tailor your content to your audience.
2. For you, Hispanic Market = Spanish
The notion that “Latino=Spanish is not always true. I wanted to prove this, so I performed a test. I picked 2 terms, one in English, and its translation in Spanish, and compared them side by side to see what their search volume and interest is.
I used Google AdWords and Google Trends tool for “Used Cars” in the US compared to its Spanish translation “Automóvil Usado” in the same US region for the same period.
|‘Used Car’||‘Automóvil Usado’|
|Global Search Volume*||1,000,000||1,900|
*Source Google AdWords
This reveals how the Spanish term interest doesn’t seem to exist. Does that mean that Latinos are not looking for “used cars”? No, it does not; this demonstrates that most of Latinos connected to the Internet conduct their research in English for generic category terms.
To support my findings above I went a step further, I analyzed the “Search Trend” over those same terms. The graph below indicates that the search interest overtime of the “Used Cars” and “Automóvil Usado” terms in Miami, FL where the Spanish speaking population is the highest in the US.
Again, there is no search interest for this Spanish term even in a place where the Spanish language is extremely popular.
Tip #2: Hispanic doesn’t necessary mean “Spanish”. If you are targeting to younger, US-born and educated Latinos with higher income, developing Spanish content may not be an effective tactic.
3. You don’t research your keyphrase base enough
Carlos is trying to communicate with his employee in Spanish, he is from Dominican Republic. He couldn’t understand what “La tracka” meant until somebody explained to him that many Hispanics repurpose English words with Spanish grammar. What Carlos learned that day is that “El camion” is called “la tracka” derived from the English word “the truck.”
Many regions in the US have different predominant Hispanic groups. In Florida, you will find mostly Cubans, and South Americans (Argentina, Venezuela, among others); in Texas and California, mostly Mexicans, Guatemalans and Salvadorians; and in New York and DC area, mostly from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Colombians.
Tip #3: If you decide to create and optimize Spanish content, research thoroughly how the category or service is being described and referred to in different communities within the US. Never just assume the literal translation from English. Do your due diligence by researching blogs and websites from different parts of Latin- America and note how much the language differs from country to country.
4. You are underusing Social Media
The use of social media and hand-held devices among Latinos is very high, enabling Hispanic consumer to be in touch with their families. This is an amazing way to connect with their values and customs.
According to the “Connected Hispanics and Civic Engagement,” Hispanics have been leading the U.S. population in terms of embracing mobile technology. For this reason, their influence in social media is imminent.
A recent report conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that while online, non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks use Twitter at 5% and 13% respectively whereas, 18% of Hispanics do.
Tip #4: Social media is a great way to connect with your demographic in a more personalized way. By using it effectively, you can encourage open discussions, conversations and overall user engagement. Latinos value personal relationships, so creating Spanish profiles is a great idea. This way, your company will create stronger bonds with the community. Marketers have yet to figure out how to map a robust Hispanic social media campaign as pointed out in this Ad Age article, so don’t wait any longer, be the first one and beat your competitors!
5. You are not paying attention to the site/folder structure
Pay close attention to site structure best practices. Many sites create subdomains instead of sub-folders. For example, CNN (cnnespanol.cnn.com ) and Ford (es.ford.com) both use Spanish subdomains. Search engines index these as separate sites; therefore they are losing their domain authority.
Tip #5: For Spanish sites, try using sub-folders such as “/es/”. Using sub-folders lets you leverage all the authority and seniority of your domain. My recommendation for the examples above would be “ccn.com/es” and “Ford.com/es.”
6. Not using local search
Having local pages created for you product/service is a great opportunity to have greater organic rankings and higher SERP positions. Hispanics will tend to be very local in their searches and purchase intents.
Tip #6: Create local pages for your products. Hispanics buy and consume local.
Consumers are within reach for marketers now more than ever before, but as technology becomes more affordable, consumers have become more educated, sophisticated and demanding. Latinos are not the exception.
As mentioned before, FoxNews realized the complexity of this demographic and created a news site entirely in English. What this news channel understood is that there is a new breed of Latino; a new type of consumer that while watching soccer on the Spanish TV channel, he may be reading the WSJ.com, reading some professional blog or shopping online on his iPad all in English.
Do you have any other Hispanic SEO tips or know brands that are doing it extremely well? Share your stories in the comment selection below.