Quick Wins in Spanish SEO

Zeph Snapp

Whenever we bring a partner on board, especially if they are an agency, the first question is always “where are the quick wins?” Since in most cases they have been laser focused on English language up to the point where we start, it isn’t too hard to work up a quick list of things that will have an immediate effect on organic traffic. Here are a few areas we focus on at the beginning of a project:

Keyword Research

Since Not Just SEO focuses primarily on companies that are entering the Spanish-speaking market after having found success in English, we can usually put our clients into one of two categories that will inform where we need to begin working:

1) Pre-Translation

This is the best situation. It means that they have had the foresight to understand that the need to consider the marketing ramifications before entering the Spanish language market. Fairly rare.

2) Post-Translation

Even at big companies I’ve found that Spanish SEO initiatives start with a directive from someone at the top. Then someone goes out and hires a translation company. Only when the traffic numbers aren’t what they expected do they decide that it might be a good time to find a Spanish SEO company to lend a hand.

In some cases they have even attempted to optimize their pages by having their translation provider translate their top 100 keywords. Of course, translators don’t think about SEO, so the literal translations are junk. Extremely common.

Either way, going through and translating the top keywords can give our incoming clients an immediate shot in the arm. And Spanish keyword research doesn’t have to be expensive.

This leads right into…

On Page Optimization

Regardless of the language, there is so much to be gained just by correcting the structure of the metadata (or as recently happened, just writing it because the client site didn’t have ANY METADATA AT ALL).

Speaking of metadata, the incomparable AJ Kohn said something a couple months ago that really stuck with me. An in-house SEO had recently told me that they were now writing meta-titles as complete sentences instead of using pipes.

I was trying to figure out if there was an actual SEO basis for them to make this change, and he made the point that they might be applying a differentiation strategy. Since every other site in their SERP’s used pipes, using complete sentences might have a positive effect on their CTR.



This isn’t as great a tactic as it was two years ago, but is still a good idea. Since there is less competition for keywords, the CPC is generally lower than it for the US/UK market. We don’t handle a lot of PPC, but it is great way to generate some traffic and test assumptions. And if we are lucky we find a few keywords that drive revenue which helps to focus our SEO efforts.

Of course the same rules apply as in English. You have to have a great landing page, and you should be doing CRO constantly, you are paying for it anyhow, you might as well do it right.

Human Translation

Every once in a while a client will come to us after having implemented machine translation. Matt Cutts has clearly stated that machine translation is a considered web spam by Google. Not to mention that it is terrible for user experience and trust (trust is undervalued, especially when targeting potential customers in Latin America). Doing a human translation of the website is one of the easiest ways to improve organic traffic, as well as conversion rate.

Implement Authorship

In talking to the best SEO’s in the world, one of the primary commonalities that I’ve found is that they all understand opportunity cost. Implementing authorship and getting a headshot into the SERP’s is one of the quickest ways to increase your organic traffic. We’ve found this to be especially true in the Spanish speaking world. Our working theory is that seeing an author headshot increases the trust factor (or maybe we just like pictures more than words). In markets like ours where fewer companies & individuals are aware of SEO principles, this is one of the first things we do.

Link Reclamation

This is a twist on broken link building and my favorite tactic when starting a Spanish link building campaign. It’s best for established sites, especially big brands. Even so, we’ve found success using it for some SMB’s as well.

1) Check the link profile using OSE, Ahrefs or Majestic SEO. Download it into a spreadsheet.

2) ID any links from sites that are in Spanish. Honestly, this is the hardest part.

3) Write up an outreach email to these webmasters thanking them for the link, but letting them know that you’ve recently translated that content.

4) Done.


I’ve had some partners balk at this tactic because they don’t want to improve their Spanish site at the expense of the main website. But if links need to be relevant in order to help rankings, then doesn’t it follow that those Spanish language links are far more relevant to your ES site than EN? Also, if you are a believer in co-citation (or whatever you want to call it), as a present or future ranking factor then the benefit of having that Spanish language post pointing towards your homepage is probably close to nil.

We also use this technique when examining the assets that clients have already created. Anything that has more than a few hundred links is worth looking at to see if there are any high value Spanish language links pointing towards the page in question. Depending on the quality of said links we make the decision as to whether to localize the asset in question.

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