Nov 11, 2010

SEO en Espanol: Integrating SEO and PR to Reach the US Hispanic Audience

How do you reach the Hispanic audience in the US?  The same way you reach your other constituents – online, with social media and search engine optimization.  PRSA Miami held a webinar this week focused on how PR pros can use SEO tactics to raise the visibility of their messages targeting the fast-growing US Hispanic audience.

Source: eMarketer, Hispanics Online: Demographics & Media Usage, 5/10

The vast majority of Hispanic households in the US have internet access – upward of 70%.  Not surprisingly, search engine marketing is the most effective – and cost effective – means of marketing to this group.    There are a few key differences, however, to which we need to pay attention:

  • Google is the search engine of choice, and is the engine upon which you should focus your efforts.
  • Mobile devices are hugely popular in Latin America, and among Hispanics in the US, and search is a popular activity.  Developing mobile content is important.
  • There are real difference in search behavior, which should inform SEO tactics.

Another important opportunity for communicators is the simple fact that there isn’t as much content out there in Spanish, which may explain why the US Hispanic audience tends to spend more time on web sites than internet users as a whole.    Developing robust content – and deep linking to it from blog posts, press releases and other information you post online will not only help your SEO, but will be appreciated by your audience.

Spanish SEO basics:

As is the case with SEO generally, keywords play a central role in targeting the US Hispanic market, but with a caveat. “When choosing keywords never rely solely on straightforward translation of English words to their Spanish counterparts,” writes Jose Villa, founder and CEO of the digital ad firm, Sensis, in a recent blog post about Hispanic search. “Think about acculturation levels of your target Hispanic audience and adapt your keywords and ad copy appropriately. Your ultimate goal should be cultural relevance—reaching your audience on a personal level.”

Villa also notes that Hispanic search behavior is different, with many searchers preferring to employ longer, more specific search term strings.  Part of this is due to the fact that Spanish is “wordier” than English – it’s been estimated that Spanish sentences are approximately 20% longer than English sentences, on average.  However, Villa emphasizes the fact that the search strings employed by US Hispanics tend to be much more focused and targeted when compared to search terms used by English-speaking US searchers.

So what does this mean for the PR pro needing to build visibility with Spanish speakers in the US?   As is the case with any PR effort that integrates SEO, the content is the starting point, and it needs to be focused.  Given the specificity of search terms used, rigorous attention to subject matter is even more important when optimizing content for the Hispanic audience.

Once you’ve identified your keywords/phrases, using them properly in order to optimize your press release and inform search engines correctly about the content is important.  Don’t stick important words down at the bottom of the page.

“Things like headlines, subheadings, bold face type and lead paragraphs are all important places to put keywords,” advises Sebastian Aroca of Hispanic Market Advisors. Writing naturally and remembering to use the words within the text of the release are also important.  Another tip: don’t try to optimize a single document for more than one or two keywords/phrases. You’ll only end up diluting your message and confusing your online audiences.

Linking is always important, and basic SEO rules apply here, too.  Use anchor text links within press releases and other online content to take readers (and search engines) to relevant pages on your web site.  Deep links to specific product or information pages are best – don’t just link to the home page.  And remember to link from specific keywords or phrases.

Villa also cautions communicators to expect a higher number of new visitors to the web site.   “Design the web site for people who have never been there before, and think about how you’ll get them to come back,” he notes, adding that linking through to a Spanish-language landing page is also essential.

Finally, it’s important to realize that SEO is limited to a single process or one campaign.   Optimizing content to develop high visibility in search engines requires ongoing effort.  The good news is that the results are easy enough to measure – work with your web team to get access to your web site analytics, so you can understand how much traffic different press releases and other content generated.  You can also keep an eye on search rankings to gauge your success, too. Staying on top of search results and referring traffic will enable you to determine what tactics worked well – so you can continue to fine tune your efforts and develop lasting interaction with the US Hispanic market.

Want more information on Hispanic SEO, digital PR and other online communication tactics? Follow the panelists on Twitter!

Ann Marie Herrera, Fleishman-Hillard: @FHHispania

Silvia Prado, Logos PR : @LOGOSPR

Sebastian Aroca, Hispanic Market Advisors: @HispanicMarkets

Jose Villa, Sensis Agency: @jrvilla

PR Newswire: @LatinoMarketing , @prnewswire

Authored by Sarah Skerik, vice-president, social media, PR Newswire

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