A large amount of any organisation’s content these days is digital and published online. It is therefore a very attractive idea to start targeting other markets and looking for business outside one’s home base simply by publishing a website or webshop in another language. However, content in a foreign language is not enough if it cannot be found by search engines. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. The higher you rank in results pages, the more traffic, clicks and, ultimately, sales your site will generate. When it comes to successful multilingual and international search engine optimization (ISEO), there are several factors you must consider. A number of issues are technical and relate to the health of the website structurally. However, at least as many key factors of a successful website are linguistic.
The role of a language service provider in ISEO
Even though your translation partner will most likely not comment on your choice of CMS or domain structure, they will be able to make sure the language used will help the right audience visit your website.
The core element of any website is writing quality content, so the core element of any website localisation process is quality marketing translation. For the best results, make sure the text is translated, or at least edited, by a native speaker, and also bear in mind that the more information the translator has on the desired style and tone of voice, the better the end result will be. However, before moving on to the translation phase itself, there are a few other factors to consider.
1. Keyword research for SEO
The cornerstone of any SEO project is keyword research. Here, the purpose is to determine which words and phrases should be used so that the website ranks higher in search engine results. Why is this so important?
First, there is really no such thing as keyword translation. This means that a direct translation of a list of keywords found in the source language rarely works. A professionally produced list of keywords can be a good starting point for a multilingual keyword project, but that is all. The simple reason is that the source and target cultures and languages are different. In fact, websites must be optimized for markets, not for countries or languages.
Secondly, search volumes and competition for a search word may vary greatly from language to language and from market to market.
Finally, while there are online tools that claim to support multilingual keyword research, the strong advice would be to rely on humans rather than machines when it comes to choosing the best keywords. Even if machine translation may otherwise be an option for localising a particular text, keyword research demands more than simple translation. In order to conduct a proper keyword analysis in a foreign language, the person in charge should be able to translate, use keyword research tools and analyse keywords according to the most critical SEO criteria, such as search volumes and competition. In other words, the best person for the job is a translator with good SEO skills.
2. SEO translation
In an ideal world, a translation partner is included in the early planning of a multilingual website and keyword research in the target language is completed before the translation phase. A standard tool used by many translation companies is a terminology management system, in which a separate keyword term list is easy to create and maintain. Therefore, the logical sequence of a multilingual SEO project is to first conduct keyword research and only then translate the source content using target language keywords that fit the copy seamlessly without sounding clumsy or unnatural.
Sometimes, however, a website in a target language already exists and only after the performance of the site is evaluated is it noticed that the right keywords have not been used in the target language. It is possible to have your translation partner edit the published content to better match the appropriate keywords afterwards. A good copywriter with SEO skills will recognise the parts of the content and meta-tags that need to be optimised for Google.
3. Google Ads Campaigns
Google Ads has huge advertising potential. A professionally localised Google Ads campaign can really help maximise global marketing efforts. Just as with keyword lists, simply translating Google campaigns will probably not work. The original copy can be a good starting point but, in most cases, it is better to have the copy rewritten in the target language.
With Google Ads, the most important aspect to bear in mind is that the ads have limited character space and some languages require more space than others to say the same thing. Therefore, the translation of an ad for the equivalent keyword may vary quite a bit from the original ad. A good translation partner can provide you with some alternative ads to choose from in such cases.
Having said all this, Google has pretty much worked out how to distinguish between a “keyword stuffer” and relevant, good quality content. Therefore, the most important thing for the translated copy is to make sure it provides information that is useful to the target audience you are trying to attract. No amount of keyword research or search optimized translation will save a website that is not informative, well-built and up to date. Finally, voice search (linkki Katjan blogiin) has recently become more important, so keyword research and SEO are also becoming even more complex as marketers need to take into account a whole new way of using search engines.