Today, much of the content produced by organisations is digital and published online. It may be an attractive idea to expand your business into new markets simply by publishing a website or an online store in another language. However, publishing content in a foreign language is not enough if search engines cannot find it. This is where multilingual SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes in. The higher a site ranks in search results, the more clicks, traffic and eventually sales will be generated. For International Search Engine Optimization (ISEO) to be successful, there are many factors that should be taken into account. Some of these are technical aspects that concern the structure of the website, but there are at least as many success factors that are purely linguistic.
The translation agency’s role in the ISEO process
While your company’s translation partner is unlikely to comment on the content management system (CMS) or domain structure you’ve chosen, they can ensure that the language you use helps the right target audience find your site.
The core of any website is high-quality content. Therefore, when localising a website, the core element is a high-quality marketing translation. For the best results, you should make sure that the text is translated or at least revised by a native language expert. Also, remember that the more information the translator has about the desired style and the company’s tone of voice, the better the end result will be. However, there are a few things that need to be considered before the actual translation begins.
1. SEO keyword research
Keyword research is the cornerstone of all international search engine optimization projects. Its purpose is to determine which words and phrases should be used to make a website rank higher in the search results. Why is this so important?
First of all, keywords cannot simply be translated. A direct translation of the source language keyword list is hardly ever a viable solution. A professionally generated keyword list can be, at most, a good starting point for a multilingual keyword project. This is simply because the source and target languages and their cultures are different. In fact, websites need to be optimised for a specific market, not countries or languages.
Second, search volumes and the competitive situation for a particular keyword can vary widely across different language areas and markets.
And third, while there are online tools available that claim to support multilingual keyword research, it is still recommended that the choice of the best keywords is entrusted to people rather than machines. While machine translation might otherwise be a viable option for localising a particular text, keyword research requires more than just translation. Successful keyword analysis in a foreign language requires that the creator of the keyword list is able to translate, use keyword research tools and analyse keywords on the basis of the most critical SEO criteria. These criteria can include, for example, search volumes and the competitive position of a particular keyword. In other words, the best choice for this task is a translator who is also an SEO expert.
2. SEO translation
Ideally, the translation partner is involved in the early stages of designing a multilingual website, and keyword research in the target language is carried out before translation begins. Many language service providers use a term management system as a standard tool, which makes it easy to create and maintain a separate keyword list. In International Search Engine Optimization (ISEO), it is logical to proceed by first carrying out keyword research, and only then translating the source content using those keywords in the target language that fit the text seamlessly and do not sound clumsy or unnatural.
Sometimes, a website already exists in the target language and only an analysis of the site’s performance reveals that the right keywords have not been used in the target language. The translation partner can be asked to modify the published content afterwards to better match the desired keywords. A good copywriter with SEO skills will be able to identify those parts of the content and the 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 helps you get the most out of your global marketing efforts. What applies to keyword lists also applies to Google campaigns: translation alone is unlikely to be a working solution. The original material can be a good starting point but, in most cases, it is better to rewrite the material in the target language.
In Google Ads campaigns, the most important thing to remember is that the number of characters in your ads is limited and that some languages take up more space than others. The translation of an ad with a particular keyword can be very different from the original ad. A good translation partner will be able to offer a variety of text options from which you can choose the best.
It is also important to keep in mind that Google is pretty good at distinguishing between content that has been stuffed full of keywords and content that is genuinely relevant and of high quality. The most important thing in a translated text is to make sure that it contains information that is useful to the target audience. No keyword research or search engine optimised translation will remedy the situation if the website is not informative, up-to-date and clearly structured. In addition, voice search has recently become more important, which means that keyword research and multilingual SEO are becoming even more complex as marketers have to consider a completely new ways of using search engines.