Gaining Web Site Traction With a Spanish Flare

You've done it - tackled search engine marketing head-on -- and frequently attained high rankings within major search engines and directories. Your content seems to be effective; you're happy with your site's look and feel and your paid campaign seems to be doing well. You've even identified your next hurdle - increased growth. So, you know you're looking for additional ways to expand your reach, but you're not sure what to do next.

Did you ever consider delving deeper into the U.S. market by making your content available to a Spanish-speaking audience? Indeed, nowhere is the saying "it's a small world after all" more applicable than in cyberspace.

You're probably already aware that, as search engine properties have increased in complexity and number, so too has the world's online search audience. In fact, of a projected 945 million worldwide Internet population, Nielsen//Net Ratings projects a user audience of 138 million in the United States.

What you may not know is that of those 138 million, Hispanics (according to eMarketer) "represent 7.6 percent of all U.S. Internet users in 2004," totaling over 13.3 million Hispanic Internet users in the United States alone (constituting a 25 percent growth from 2000). Most importantly, these stats reflect a population that proclaims the United States is the fifth largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.



So, what does this mean to online marketers? As U.S. Hispanics statistically are using the Internet at a higher rate than other demographics, a Spanish-speaking audience may be the target demographic that your Web site needs to expand your audience and jumpstart your online marketing campaign.

In fact, by tapping into the immense buying power of this nation's largest minority, the U.S. Hispanic online population is proving to be an essential means of revitalization for many eMarketing initiatives. Major search engines and directories, such as Yahoo! en Español, MSN Latino, Univision, QuePasa, and Mi Negocio, as well as HispanicOnline, are already well on their way to accessing the U.S. Hispanic market share. In addition, predominantly English engines are now indexing and ranking Spanish content, while Spanish-language sponsored search results (paid ads) are becoming more prevalent and competitive as well.

Spanish Search Engine Optimization can certainly be profitable when conducted in the right manner, at the right time, and for the right audience. Many pay per click (PPC) programs are able to provide attractive rates for Spanish terms -- thereby leveraging higher traffic volume for far less cost when compared to English key terms.

Google, for example, currently supports PPC ads in eight different languages, including Spanish. In addition, higher organic results can often be driven by content written in Spanish, as indexed Spanish page volume is currently quantitatively smaller (and therefore less competitive) when compared to the quantity of indexed English content.

Keep in mind that the online search behavior of the U.S. Hispanic population is complex -- comprised of immigrant, second/third generation, bilingual, and non-English speakers originating from 23 countries -- all with different linguistic variations, cultural traditions, financial profiles, and educational backgrounds. The key to successfully engaging the U.S. Hispanic market lies in the strategic modeling, segmentation, and localization of the target demographic.

For example, studies show that many English-speaking Hispanics prefer to conduct search queries in Spanish over English when given the option; however the availability of content in both languages is equally important. Is your audience bilingual? Do you require entire pages of text written in Spanish, or would translated summaries suffice? Should your entire Web site be written in both English and Spanish?

Remember, the Spanish language can vary from country to country. It's essential that translations are clear and can be understood by a diverse Spanish-speaking audience, keeping in mind that translations produced by automated software is often inaccurate.

Furthermore, what are the search and buying habits of your audience? Knowing these answers will help establish guidelines for customizing your site's Spanish content, attain solid search results in Spanish, and successfully reach the targeted Hispanic audience.

Although currently a relatively small portion of the current market share (8%), U.S. Census figures project that the Hispanic population will continue to grow almost five times faster than the general population over the next 50 years. Planning how to achieve your goal by addressing the complexities of this constantly growing market is essential to reaching the rapidly growing U.S. Hispanic online audience of today, as well as tomorrow.

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