Practical advice for incorporating SEO into your website content translation

by | Apr 25, 2018

Welcome to part 4 of 4 in our SEO-series! So, you’ve decided to make your website available in other languages, and you want to do it the right way, combining translation to effectively communicate with your audience, with SEO to make your business visible in search engines like Google. Very clever decision, indeed.

What now?

Before jumping into the actual work, there are some things you should take into consideration to organize the tasks and make the process as cost-effective and smooth as possible.

1. Decide what you’re going to translate and what requires SEO

Translating your standard set of webpages is pretty straightforward in terms of SEO. You will probably need to incorporate SEO while you translate the pages. Since the pages are fairly static, and receive only the occasional optimization, you can probably get away with doing SEO for each language once for all of those pages. Even if you optimize the pages, leaving the keywords intact is easy.

In content marketing, however, incorporating SEO can be more challenging. Are your blog posts targeting specific search terms? If so, are you going to do SEO research for each individual blog post?

It’s totally doable, but it may require additional workflow steps and talent. You may have your translators on the lookout for keywords, or you may have each piece of content passed by a local SEO, the localized keyword attached to the content combined with instructions for the translator to use that keyword.

2. Plan your SEO translation strategy

For your standard set of webpages, there are three ways you can manage the process:

  • Translate all the content on the website first, then optimize it for search engines afterward.
  • Work with knowledgeable translators or providers who know how to do SEO website translation, optimizing the content for search engines at the same time.
  • Do the keyword research separately, and then carefully pass the keyword instructions to your translation providers.

The second method is recommended, because you can let your knowledgeable team incorporate SEO directly for high-quality results. However, if you’re localizing 1000 different pages, only working with expert translators or providers may not be an option. In that case, you might pass the keywords along with specific instructions, knowing that you’ll likely need to review the work very carefully.

After you decide which method to use, it’s important to decide on milestones and priorities of the project to keep everything noted and traceable.

3. Prepare your content

As in any translation project, it’s important to know in advance what content is going to be translated to have an overview of the actual size of the task.

It’s always a good idea to review the content that you have on your existing site, decide which is most relevant in the target market, and have an estimated word count that will help determine costs and time.

On a technical level, you’ll need a practical way to translate your website. Wordbee offers several options, including Beebox, which connects directly to your content management system (CMS), or Wordbee Translator, which you can use to manage all your translations in a variety of code, web, or bilingual formats.

Particularly in the case of content marketing, technical requirements may quickly escalate. If you plan to publish different content on different blogs for different countries (multilingual, multi-site), you may need to plan this out carefully and do some development work with your CMS solution. If you do the work up front, you can have really slick content operation on a global scale.

4. Do your keyword research

You can’t market the same way to everyone. You need to take a look into your target country and conduct a deep analysis of the market.

In SEO translation, this research is done through keywords. What are they searching for? Like I’ve mentioned in previous articles, keywords are the essence of SEO because they tell your audience and search engines what specifically you’re talking about.

Keywords can’t just be translated. Instead, they need to be carefully picked based on the most popular local search terms. This research should consider what the local buyer is thinking and all the terms that are most used in a particular group, including synonyms, colloquialisms, and similar expressions to have the best range of possibilities to work with.

There are many free and paid tools to use for this research, such as Google Adwords, Google Analytics, Google Trends, Moz Keyword Explorer, SEMrush, etc.

Furthermore, you’ll need to decide how to organize this research. You might keep the information in a spreadsheet that you share with your team, but you might decide to input that information directly into your translation management system, like Wordbee.

5. Watch out for asymmetric searches

Some searches may be asymmetric. So for example, in the United States, maybe people are searching for “artesenal bath soap,” while in India, they may be searching for “ayurvedic soap.” Can your page about “artesenal bath soap” be feasibly converted to one about “ayurvedic soap”?

Sometimes, your target market may require totally different content. During keyword research, it’s important to be on the lookout for asymmetric searches. You may need to rewrite a page for a target market, or there may be totally new opportunities that require new pages. At the very least, keeping track of asymmetric search terms is a good way to move forward with multilingual content marketing.

6. Choose the right translators or service providers

Depending on the size of your project and ongoing needs, you may choose to manage your own staff of freelance translators, or you may have existing relationships with translation providers.

No matter who you’re working with, it’s important to make sure that you’re on the same page about the SEO work that needs to be done, and you need to make sure that this work and your strategies are understood.

It may be that you have existing localization relationships. If that’s the case, awesome! But don’t assume that they know what SEO is. You’ll want to discover any knowledge gaps early on so you can fix them before you get bad SEO content. This may require educating your current providers, or searching for a more specialized service.

SEO isn’t rocket science, but it is precise. Developing knowledgeable relationships with translators, providers, or partners can be a gift that keeps on giving as you focus on content marketing.

7. Think outside the box

To obtain better results for your SEO translation, it’s absolutely necessary to do a localization of your website by country, not just a plain translation by language. This is because you need to consider the different variants of a language, which might have big differences in terms of keywords and expressions. This ultimately will make all the difference.

Also, if you want to take it a little further and really engage your local audience with great content, you might want to consider including copywriting.

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