Google Update on May 17, and My Personal SEO Experiment on Mixing Languages

I know, it’s been ages since I last published something on here. As some of you already know I’ve been busy. Time flies without notice, and my website should have become almost deserted in terms of number of visits because of that.

But paradoxically enough, that’s not been the case: My blog’s traffic is increased with me doing nothing.

This is My Personal SEO Experiment

Funny thing is, it has particularly grown in the last month. I guess because of Google’s most recent important updates: May 17, April 25 and March 8.

Cool!

Today I want to share with you how the Google algorithm updates impacted my blog, and also, I’d like to share an SEO strategy that I’ve been thinking over for a while.

A Multilingual Site with No Translations

I came up with this idea:

I want to target a new English-speaking audience for my blog stats to grow.

By the way, did you know that so far I’ve been posting in Spanish only?

I’m starting to write posts in either English or Spanish without translating any content at all, assuming my readers are bilingual and can understand both languages.

Mixing Languages

The approach is like a Swiss webmaster writing their site in German, French, Italian and Romansh, all together. The same thing goes for a Canadian blogger targeting bilingual English/French readers.

You see, the point is we don’t want to translate the content.

Taking a Simple Approach

There’s little information out there on how to easily implement my SEO strategy with WordPress. Technically speaking, the lang attribute must be set in the html tag accordingly:

<html lang="en">

Or:

<html lang="es">

Easy peasy.

However, no WP plugin will do the job for us in a snap.

Just google the terms html lang wordpress or something similar and look at the results obtained. Please let me know if you could find any!

Well, there’s one plugin called Set HTML lang attribute per post that I wouldn’t recommend since it hasn’t been updated in two years, apart from the fact it’s currently installed on about 30 web sites only.

Alternatively you may want to write your custom PHP code in a similar way as described below.

But is it really worth it? Rather than coding a custom PHP snippet, why not take a simple approach and use the lang attribute in the post’s content?

The language can be defined in content tags such as article, section, h1, h2, h3, h4, p, like this:

<section lang="en">
    <p>
        Hey, here comes some content in English.
        This is the approach I've taken to write this post by the way.
        Note that the main context of my site is Spanish, though.
    </p>
</section>

This is what I am doing. I am wrapping my English posts in a <section lang="en"> tag. The title is wrapped in a <span lang="en"> tag:

<span lang="en">This is the title of my post</span>

This should work — theoretically — because some search engines can detect the main language of a web site.

Automatic Language Detection to the Rescue

Now look at this:

According to Google, it is the visible content of the page that determines its language; Google doesn’t even consider the lang attributes in the HTML code.

I am deducing that a bilingual website is not a problem to Google’s eyes.

HTML’s lang Attribute

What about search engines other than Google?

Of course, not all search engines work the exact same way. It’d be great that all of them could detect the language of documents by looking at the visible content, as Google does, but this is not the case unfortunately.

So, it is still necessary to use HTML’s lang attribute as described here by the W3C.

Conclusion

Remember, Google can detect the language of a website reading the visible content, as a human would do, however other crawlers do rely on the lang attribute.

All my posts written in English will be wrapped in a <section lang="en"> tag.

The solution is not ideal because the head and the body tags still inherit the default language which is set to es. However, it is simple.

What I explained today is merely experimental, and I am looking forward to see how my posts in English will be indexed by crawlers actually.

I hope you liked today’s post. Stay curious. I’ll keep you posted on my experiment’s results.