The reason your company has a website is that you want to communicate with your audience in the most efficient way. For example, if you have products or services, you need to organize your website in a way that your potential customers can navigate it easily and get the information they need. So far so good, right? But how do your potential customers locate your website? Thanks to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO refers to the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. Your company can spend lots of time and money for marketing to get brand recognition and then your potential customers can locate you online by directly entering your company name into a search box and the search engines will locate your company. Then why use SEO marketing? In cases, where your potential buyers are doing an online search with specific terms, you want your company to be listed in the first unpaid or organic result list as most people will click the results on the first page. That means only one thing: while you are designing and developing your website, you need to pay attention to SEO algorithms that will see your company’s website content as “authority” in that field and list your company’s website on the first page.
What if you offer your products to a non-English speaking audience? Then things get more complicated. SEO translation to the rescue! SEO translation is different from just translating your website content literally. Your original, let’s say English web page, might be performing very well in terms of ranking on Google search, but the translated pages in other languages may not show up at the search engine results at all. Your website content should be “localized” in all the target audience languages, which means that the content should be adopted into the local language and its culture. In the next few sections, we will discuss SEO translation and localization concepts.
SEO Translation vs. Localization
SEO translation and localization are often confused and sometimes even used interchangeably since they both relate to translation. However, they are two completely different processes. They complement each other, but each has specific goals that require different approaches.
Localization is the process of translating your content taking the target language culture into account. In literal, word-for-word translation, your content may lose its meaning quite a bit. Translating a saying or an idiom that works really well in the source language may not only lose its meaning but also could be offensive in the target language audience culture. Therefore it might do more harm than good. The specific goal in localization is to translate the content in a way that speaks to the culture directly through the use of the right metaphors, wordplays, slogans, puns, and idioms.
SEO content translation has a specific purpose of getting the translated content to rank high on the search engine results. Translation and SEO are two constructs woven together to not only communicate with the human readers but also make the page more attractive to search engine algorithms. Just like you consider keywords that have been used in search strings in the source language when you develop your website content, you also need to pay specific attention to keywords that have been used in the target language search strings. The same rule applies to tags, titles, meta-descriptions, etc.
Overall, if you want your website content to reach a wider audience in the countries you want to market your products, you don’t get to choose SEO translation or localization. The idea is to localize your content and make sure that the content is attractive to both human readers as well as search engine algorithms.
We have talked about the necessity of SEO in website translation. Now we should highlight the importance of SEO translation in the whole localization process. You don’t have to mention the details of the SEO process again, but we should show how the two are connected and should be used together for engaging content.
Is It Worth It?
To answer that question, we have to understand why we localize our website in the first place. The main goal behind localizing your website is to introduce your company, your content, and your products to the other culture via the Internet and to be discovered by the people in other countries. However, without SEO translation or localization, it is all pointless since it is what makes you visible on the Internet.
When you localize your website, all the words including the applied SEO keywords are getting translated to the other language. When your SEO keywords are translated, they lose all their function since their search rates change and your website becomes irrelevant when those keywords are searched. To prevent this, you have to consider the search engine as much as you consider your potential customer.
The SEO of your localized website is a whole other process. You should work with a proficient SEO agency that will do the research and provide you with the equivalents of the keywords on your website in the languages you’re targeting. Just a translation won’t suffice at this point. The search habits of cultures differ and require proper research. People don’t use the same terms to look for the same thing around the world and some concepts aren’t universal. To have a better understanding, check out the table below to see how high-volume English keywords lose huge search volume when they’re translated into French. You’ll see that they have the same meaning but are not used as much. This is why SEO is important. Translation, even when correctly done, is not enough by itself. There is a huge mistake that companies usually fall into - using machine translation to localize their website. Ever since machine translation has entered our lives, it came up with its undeniable speed and low-cost solutions to our translation needs but there is an important point that all global companies should be aware of: Your website is not an ordinary webpage. Your website is the face of your company to the world. So it should be localized by a professional translator who knows about the target culture. As the next step, an SEO expert should adjust the translation to the search habits of the target country by using high volume keywords. It may sound a little expensive in the first place. It actually is, but the cost is lower compared to paying domain fees for years but not being able to reach enough people.
3 Rules of SEO Translation
There are three main rules of SEO translation:
1. Pay Attention to Keyword Research
First of all, you have to pay attention to keyword research. Just because a term is searched a lot in one language, does not mean it should be popular in the other. In order to have the perfect keywords in your SEO translation process, it is crucial to factor in cultural differences. Terms do not necessarily have to have direct equivalents in other languages. During your SEO keyword research, it is a good idea to create termbases in your source language, look for relevant keywords, and create bilingual translation glossaries for all your findings. Don’t be afraid to get help, a translator with CAT tools can help you with everything you need to get your glossary ready.
2. Do Not Forget About The Titles
Having good and eye-catching titles are also extremely important in achieving great success in your SEO efforts. Titles are used by search engines for categorizations of the text. They are the very first thing that your reader sees and are a teller whether a potential visitor will, or will not click your link to get to your website. First impressions do count when it comes to increasing engagement and it is crucial to do your research while deciding on your titles. For that same reason, SEO title localization is also very substantial. It might be even more substantial than the translation quality of your article since the title will be the first thing your client will see and will potentially search for.
3. Metadata Optimization And Tags Are Crucial
Lastly, we’ll be visiting the unsung heroes of SEO translation - title tags and metadata descriptions. They play an enormous role in your page’s rankings in search engines, and yet they are still a bit overlooked by the Average Joes of SEO. The title tag is the title of your webpage that is displayed every time your website appears in a search result. It is important to pick and use effective keywords in your title tags to boost your rankings in search engines. Metadata and SEO are also very tightly connected terms. Metadata description acts as a summary of your content and is displayed right under the title in search results. A metadata description must be under 155 characters, and like titles, they should also contain keywords for better rankings. Localization of title tags and metadata descriptions are - again - very important if you want your website to perform well in other locales. In order to be successful in your title tag and metadata description translation, the translator must take the variance of the audience into account while deciding on keywords for other locales. As mentioned before, having glossaries help a lot in these types of situations where you need to not only localize, but also internationalize your content.
Professionally Localized Content is Everything
Having and applying great SEO practices are important in every language you localize your website into. An awesome SEO translated content not only helps with the engagement but also increases revenue in the long run. It tells you why content is king in SEO. Here at MotaWord, with the help of our state of the art collaborative translation platform, we’ll be glad to help you with all your needs regarding SEO translation services. Come chat with us on our 24/7 live chat or feel free to contact us through email at firstname.lastname@example.org and start saving money and time on your SEO translation projects while getting top-notch quality.
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