Achieving Local Market Effectiveness with Multilingual SEO

LEAP has taken to virtual and real-life stages to show marketers how to improve the effectiveness of global brand messages in local markets. For those who missed us at The Financial Services Forum and the Digital Marketing World Forum, we present a taster of some of the key insights brought to light in a case study about multilingual SEO for the finance sector.


A few years ago, a UK-based global financial services institution approached us to help them uncover why the launch of their digital paid media campaign had not made the splash they had hoped for in Japan. They had done everything with the same effort and the same diligence as they had for the UK, but the audience response was far below expectations and the product sales performance was low. They needed to find a way to improve and optimise their digital efforts.

Undaunted by the challenge, LEAP analysed the campaign, paying particular attention to the production process. We soon uncovered a series of missteps that could be rectified to improve the fortunes of future digital marketing campaigns.

Think Culture First translation graphic


The first problem we identified was with the SEO keywords. The campaign for Japan had relied on a simple translation of the UK keyword list. Because each market has its own ‘search culture’, there’s no guarantee that translated terms will also rank well in other countries.

The second underlying issue was relying on the false assumption that the most popular search engine would be the same across both markets. In the UK, internet users have been ‘Googling’ everything for decades, but when the campaign had launched in Japan, Yahoo was the reigning search engine.

google SEO Yahoo Japan logos


With the previous campaign’s pitfalls identified, we could build a stronger foundation for the relaunch. We enlisted our team of local market experts with specialist finance sector experience to develop a new keyword list. This time, we based it on the search culture of the client’s target audience and identified the terms that ranked well on Yahoo Japan. Next, our highly vetted copywriters used the market-specific keyword list to optimise the new Japanese copy. The result was a more successful campaign with a tangible uplift in engagement and sales.

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