Bilingual Search Best Practices

Posted by Jeff Licciardi, Associate Account Manager

Canadians, specifically those who either live in Quebec or were brought up in a French speaking household, often switch between communicating in English and French.  However, French speaking Canadians predominantly communicate in English when their surroundings are primarily in English.  Most signs in Canada contain French and English, as do plenty of advertisements.  Search, however, does not.

So what’s the best way to connect with these consumers in search?  Serving French copy for French keywords only addresses those users who, 100% of the time, choose to interact online in French (French Web sites, French language settings, etc.).  The puzzle is figuring out how to address the bilingual tendencies of these consumers.

When a French speaking user types a generic English keyword on the French language, very few paid results will be displayed (if any).  By adding generic English keywords to these French campaigns and serving relevant French copy, we can address the bilingual nature of the user correctly, and gain incremental traffic. 

A similar tactic can be applied to the English  Adding generic French terms and pairing them with French copy ensures that a connection is made with that French speaker.  When matched against an English ad on the same query, which will win?  Most likely, the piece of copy that speaks to the consumer in the language they’re most comfortable with.

Some examples:

French > English Keywords > French Copy

In the above example, because the default language settings of the computer or the search engine are set to French, the user is likely to interact with French copy. 

English > French Keywords > French Copy

Similarly, in this example, the consumer is searching in French.  Displaying French copy that may even contain the keyword is a sure way to win over this user.  These examples prove that the key to bilingual search is to serve the most relevant copy to the searcher.

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