Insights November 12, 2020

SEO translation – what is it, and why is it important?

Living Word
By Living Word

The online marketspace is crowded, so if you want to do business on the world wide web, an untranslated website most likely won’t take you far. As established in the Can’t Read, Won’t Buy study by CSA Research, consumers are much more likely to buy a product or service if they read about it in their native language.

But in the era of search engine dominance, it is one thing to have a localised website with high-quality content that has been tailored to the local market. Actually being found by the local audience when they type in search queries in their mother tongue is a whole different challenge. But if you’re not showing up on the search results pages, people are much less likely to stumble upon your site – and that’s where SEO translation comes in.

What is SEO translation?

Different types of content need different types of translation, and SEO translation is more than just website translation. SEO is short for ‘search engine optimisation’, which covers all tactics related to boosting your visibility in search results. And that’s not just content-wise; SEO also relates to the more technical side of things – all things ‘back-end’, if you will.

So how does SEO translate into… well, translation? SEO translation is the process of translating a website with the purpose of improving its search rankings. While the content still needs to be localised for the target market to ensure impact and relevance, an extra layer is added to SEO translation – a layer that adds more elements to the list of things the linguist needs to take into account.

Why is SEO translation important?

Making sure that your website is available in relevant local languages is a good start, but it’s not necessarily enough. People in different countries use different languages and keywords, and even different search engines, when searching the web. While Google is the dominant search engine in most of the world, its market share varies by country, so it’s worth paying attention to other relevant search engine providers too, including Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo to name a few.

When you’ve considered the predominant use of language, keywords and search engines in a target market and crafted your website accordingly, you’re more likely to earn a high search engine ranking (in other words, to appear among the top results when a user types a relevant search query into a search engine). The higher the ranking, the better the visibility. The better the visibility, the higher the chances of decent website traffic. And the more website traffic, the higher the chances of getting sales in. Put simply, SEO is a crucial part of your digital marketing strategy.

What does SEO translation involve?

Keyword research is an important element of SEO translation. It’s not enough to simply translate the most important keywords from the source website. High-value keywords in one market might not prove that valuable in another – so some keyword research for each market is crucial to ensure that you can fill your website with relevant, high-quality content that includes keywords with a high search volume and low organic competition.

But integrating SEO tactics into the translation process involves more than keyword research – even if we leave the more technical back-end side of things out of it. Search engines also take things like meta tags, ALT tags, URLs, and internal and external links into consideration when determining whether your website is relevant and valuable enough to earn a high ranking. So while identifying and translating the right keywords for each market is important, so is the more technical side of things – and it’s not necessarily for everyone, which is why it’s important to invest in a professional SEO translator to help you get your international SEO right.

It requires language expertise, cultural knowledge, and a thorough understanding of keyword research to get to the top of search engine rankings, and that’s why SEO translation is different to your typical translation service.