SEO for Latin America is something we’ve seen increasing no end over the last couple of yers, so it wouldn’t be right to have an iSEO video series without touching on this exciting region.
We sat down with Maria Scheibengraf, an Argentinian localization and SEO expert, who kindly shared her top tips on SEOing for Latin American Spanish.
What is Latin America? And is it the same as South America?
Latin America is a collective term given to the part of the Americas that includes Central and South America, Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean. From a language perspective, you’ll find that Romance languages are spoken here – Spanish, Portuguese, and French. South America, on the other hand, is the southern portion of the Americas. Knowing the difference is essential because doing SEO for Latin America and South America involves targeting two different regions!
Interesting facts about South America
To complement what we mentioned above, Latin America comprises around 20 countries, so that’s a lot of places to target! There are 646 million inhabitants and 400 million internet users. Language-wise, you’re most likely to use either Spanish or Portuguese, but for this blog/episode, we’ll be sticking solely to Spanish. If you’d like to learn more about Brazilian SEO, you can check out our episode with Luiz.
Regarding Spanish speakers, Mexico’s home to the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world at 128 million people and 98 million internet users. That’s followed by Colombia, with a population of 50 million, and Argentina at 45 million. Also, did you know that the USA is home to more Spanish speakers than there are in the whole of Spain?
Spanish variants in Latin America
We can’t touch on SEO for Latin America without looking at all of the different Spanish variants that exist because, unfortunately, it’s not a case of a one-size-fits-all approach. To give you a broad overview, you can break all of the different types of Spanish into 6 categories:
- Mexican Spanish
- Central American Spanish
- Caribbean Spanish
- Amazonian Spanish
- Andean Spanish
- Southern Cone Spanish
And then break these down again into the different geographical regions they’re spoken in. So, if someone tells you they’re looking at LATAM SEO, it’s not quite that simple!
People do ask for LATAM Spanish SEO though, can it be done?
Even though we’ve established that Spanish SEO for Latin America isn’t as simple as creating some Spanish content and off you go, many companies and agencies do ask for Latin American Spanish. So how is that done?
Typically, the rule of thumb is SEO for Mexico. As Mexican Spanish is by far the most spoken dialect of Spanish in Latin America, and other Latin American Spanish speakers find it easier to understand than some of the other Spanish variants. Plus, as the biggest market in Latin America, it helps to maximize the number of readers.
What about international Spanish?
While we’ve gotten used to something in our industry called international Spanish, it’s not recommended for SEO. International Spanish ensures that the writers or linguists use terms that come across as neutral and not too influenced by a particular dialect, but that does come at a price.
SEO is all about feeling addressed and speaking to your audience, and that’s no exception when it comes to Spanish for Latin America. So, if you’re using a very neutral way of addressing people, it won’t resonate. Therefore, we only recommend international Spanish in a handful of cases:
- When you’re trying to reach a mass audience with a message that’s not culturally specific (e.g., an awareness campaign about global issues like climate change)
- When you’re communicating with an international audience on a topic that’s not country-specific (e.g., at an automotive industry conference)
But as we’ve said before, it’s not a good idea if your goal is SEO for Latin America.
Reasons why international Spanish doesn’t work for Latin American SEO
- Lack of local relevance
If you want your content to rank in a particular country, you must ensure it resonates with consumers in that specific market.
- Low rankings
There are multiple ways to say things depending on which variant of Spanish you’re using. So, by only picking one keyword, you’re missing out on content written for how people speak Spanish in their particular country. Plus, you need to consider local trends and culture in specific countries.
- Poor click-through-rates
If your content isn’t relevant, then people aren’t going to click on it. This is why international Spanish is famous for poor CTRs.
- Limited engagement
Just like in any market, SEO content for Latin America needs to be engaging, and you won’t do that if you’re trying to speak to too many people at once.
- Missed opportunities
Each country in Latin America has its own customs and traditions, and by not catering to these, you’re going to miss out on many opportunities.
SEO Strategies for Latin America
Hopefully, by now, we’ve inspired you to give your Latin American SEO a real, local feel and target particular countries rather than the region as a whole. So, what sort of SEO strategies work?
Remember culture and its impact on buyer behavior
Tight economic conditions mean that many consumers are more price-sensitive and are looking for ways to save money. This, in turn, impacts the keywords you want to target.
There is also a lack of trust in local providers when it comes to financial services, so keywords related to “security”, “international”, and “reputation” are more popular.
There are also different attitudes to luxury items. In Central America, luxury items are seen as a symbol of success, but flaunting your wealth in the southernmost countries of South America is seen as extremely rude.
In Mexico, for example, consumers are more likely to try out new products than their counterparts in other LATAM countries but will look for qualified advice before purchasing.
A good way of learning about what works in a particular market is checking out where they lie on Hofstede’s cultural dimensions.
Leverage social media
Social media is a vital channel in Latin America, so make sure you use it to complement your SEO strategy.
Remember that UX goes hand-in-hand with SEO
As there is a direct correlation between SEO success and user experience, you must ensure that you give your LATAM consumers a truly localized experience.
As you can see, SEO for Latin America is a lot more complex than just launching a Spanish SEO campaign, and that’s without even considering the differences between LATAM Spanish and the Spanish spoken in Spain! So hopefully, we’ve inspired you to take a more local approach, and if you’d like any further advice, you know where to find us.
Maria is an award-winning, certified English > Spanish Translator and Chartered Linguist (CIOL, UK). She specializes in multilingual SEO and marketing and IT content localization for multinational software brands.
Maria has been working as a freelance translator since 2011, and in 2016 co-founded Crisol Translation Services. Several multinationals rely on her professional services to generate revenue in Spanish-speaking markets, which has helped her build up expert knowledge in the field. She’s also an intermediate-level programmer.
Maria enjoys sharing her knowledge of Marketing and SEO online, predominantly on LinkedIn but also on Crisol’s blog and Instagram account.