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7 Considerations for Expanding Paid Search to the Hispanic Market

Many companies are now recognizing the opportunities surrounding the Hispanic audience, and the importance of expanding marketing tactics to reach these users. Because paid search is a dynamic channel and easy to update, it is often one of the first tactics marketers focus on when creating a Hispanic strategy. Although it’s easy to adjust paid search campaigns to target this audience, other considerations are necessary in order to truly get it right. 

By following a few guidelines, you can ensure that you will effectively reach and resonate with the Hispanic market, and set your campaigns up for success.

Do Your Homework

To run a successful Hispanic campaign, take some time to do research. Ask your client for demographic data to understand what percentage of the market is Hispanic. Pull Spanish search volume estimates from Google for queries surrounding your industry. Understanding the opportunity will help focus your efforts and set expectations with the client.

Before launching a separate Hispanic strategy, ensure you have the proper assets in place. A seamless experience from search to conversion requires properly translated ad copy and landing pages. Ideally, you will have a translated mirror of the English dot-com site in place prior to launch. If that is not the case, at least ensure that the entire buy-flow, from landing page to conversion, is translated for Spanish users.

English Site

The English language dot-com site

Spanish Site

The English language dot-com site

To start, Hispanic campaigns should be mirrored from BAU English campaigns, with both English and Spanish keyword and ad copy variations. Although Google Translate is a helpful resource, it is important to put other checks in place. Google’s service translates word-for-word, which is not always the most accurate translation for native speakers. Your client may already utilize a translation agency, which you should be able to leverage. If not, do your best to translate messaging through Google Translate, and have a fluent speaker edit the ad copy and keyword variations. In addition, request any additional research the client has available (focus group findings, etc.) that could provide a lens into what messaging resonates well with the Hispanic market. Use those insights to guide ad copy creation, keyword research, and content decisions on the site.

Using Google Translate when structuring paid search campaigns for the Hispanic market

Find the Hispanic Audience

There are two ways to define users with Spanish preferences in search — keyword language and/or browser setting. The following search behaviors can be used to identify the Hispanic audience, and should be used as targeting criteria in paid search campaigns.

  1. User’s search engine language preference is Spanish, and they are searching a Spanish (or Undetermined — more on that below) query
  2. User’s search engine language preference is English, but they are searching a Spanish query

Despite these two options, keyword should trump everything. Meaning, if someone searches for “tv ofertas,” browser language setting is irrelevant — at that moment, they are searching in Spanish, so a Spanish ad should be served. However, if they are searching an English or “Undetermined” keyword, we rely on browser language settings in the search engines. Undetermined keywords are terms that are spelled the same in Spanish and English (e.g., “internet”), and thus searcher language cannot be inferred from the search query alone.

Google's search language settings are one way to determine what keywords to target

Structure Campaigns for Success

Think through the best way to structure your campaigns. You’ll want to organize keywords so that the appropriate ad copy and landing page experience is running for each keyword set — English, Spanish, and Undetermined keywords. 

Google also enables you to segment campaigns by browser language setting, so campaigns can be broken down by Spanish versus English preferences. Rather than targeting both browser settings in the same campaign, these should be broken out into separate campaigns and managed independently. This allows for more granular reporting and the ability to define different experiences for each.

In terms of actual set-up, both keyword language and browser settings should be considered. There are four possible search scenarios:

  1. Spanish browser setting/Spanish query
  2. Spanish browser setting/English query
  3. English browser setting/Spanish query
  4. English browser setting/English query (BAU English campaigns which are already running)

The recommended Hispanic campaign structure is below. “Experiences” define which language ad copy and landing pages are provided to searchers. It is recommended to test English versus Spanish experiences for Undetermined queries, as this can vary across industries.

The recommended campaign structure for the Hispanic market

You CAN Please Everyone

Although we do our best to anticipate searcher preferences, there will be instances where we get it wrong.  Some users, despite searching in Spanish, may prefer to browse website content in English. As a solution, give searchers the option by providing an English sitelink on Spanish ads, and vice versa. There should also be a language toggle on all landing pages so users aren’t trapped with an undesired experience. Providing these options will also reduce bounces from the site and can help foster positive sentiments toward the company.  You are showing that you care about the unique preferences of the Hispanic audience and that you value their business.

No Search Engine Left Behind

Google dominates search market share, but that doesn’t mean that Yahoo and Bing should be ignored. When expanding Hispanic efforts into these engines, there is one special consideration to keep in mind — Bing/Yahoo is limited in their browser targeting capabilities, compared to Google. Searchers can change their browser language preference, but this only affects the user interface – not paid search results. Therefore, there is no way for advertisers to serve a different experience to someone who searches an English/Undetermined keyword with Spanish browser settings. For these engines, we define language (and the Hispanic audience) exclusively by keyword language.

In Bing/Yahoo, it is possible to target searchers in the U.S. who are on subdomains of Spanish-speaking countries (e.g., mx.yahoo.com); however, volume can be quite low for certain industries. Before expanding to this type of strategy, research search volume and competitive landscape to determine if this is worthwhile for your business.

Google searchers can also be targeted by subdomain, but user location and language preferences trump this. For example, if a U.S. user is searching an English keyword with English browser language preferences on www.google.com.mx, the standard English BAU campaign would serve.

Search Engine

Browser Language Targeting

Keyword Language Targeting

Subdomain Targeting






Don’t “Set It and Forget It”

Regular maintenance and upkeep is crucial for Hispanic campaigns. If you are not fluent in Spanish, regular tasks become more time-consuming and attention to detail is essential. Search query reports must be reviewed closely, and on a regular basis. Using tools like Google Translate becomes important when trying to identify irrelevant queries to add as negatives. On the flip side, you should also recognize Spanish-language keyword variations to be added the campaigns. It is best practice to include both variations of keywords — with accents and without. As you’re reviewing these reports, you’ll likely find new queries to add and bid on directly. 

Another important component to Hispanic campaign management is ensuring a solid negative keyword strategy. Negate your core English keywords from Spanish campaigns, and exclude Spanish terms from English campaigns. This will ensure that the search engines direct traffic appropriately, and users are served the proper experience.

Finally, establish and maintain keyword parity across English and Spanish campaigns. When adding new keywords to English campaigns, translate and add these to the Hispanic campaigns as well. The same rule applies to negative keywords.

Testing is Key

The final, and perhaps most important, tactic for Hispanic campaign maintenance is testing. Test anything and everything, and apply the learnings as you go. A few areas to start are ad copy language, offer messaging, and landing page content. It will take trial and error to understand which experiences resonate best with the Hispanic market, and the winners are not always what you would expect. 

For example, in a recent test, we compared Spanish versus English experiences for Undetermined keywords like “internet.” Although searchers had Spanish language browser settings, we found that the English experience performed better: English ad copy drove a 21% lift in click-through rate, and English landing pages more than doubled orders and conversion rates. This is contrary to what was expected, and it highlights the importance of testing and using data to support your decisions.

The surprising results of targeting English language landing pages to Spanish speakers

Anyone can reach Hispanic users in paid search, but only those who consider the unique preferences and search behaviors of this market will succeed. Attention to detail is key in fostering a positive rapport with the Hispanic audience.