SEO translation: When you need to be found around the world

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the key to greater visibility on the internet. International companies face the great challenge of using SEO to optimise the translation of their keywords and content.

If you want to be found on the internet by the right people on the right topics, you have to optimise your content and pages for Google et al.: Worldwide, 75 percent (desktop) and 88 percent (mobile) of people search via Google, the rest via other search engines, according to the latest statistics. Search engine optimisation, called SEO for short, involves defining keywords that the target customer searches for and that, when searched, should lead to your website being at the top of the results pages on the search engine. This involves adapting technical aspects of the website (technical SEO) and, most importantly, revising or recreating content on the website with a targeted approach (content SEO).

SEO for one project is not the same as SEO for another

All well and good if companies want to communicate and be found in one language.

However, if they are active and communicate internationally and want to be found worldwide in all the languages involved, it is important that the keywords used in the source language are not simply translated, but that the relevant and correct keywords in each individual target country are identified and used. International SEO and professional SEO translations are essential for this.

Therefore, as a language service provider, we deal with all components of international SEO and help explain what international companies need to consider when conducting keyword research and carrying out SEO translation for their texts.

What is a professional SEO translation?

SEO translation or international SEO is a sub-area of the multifaceted topic of marketing translation and includes researching keywords, and translating texts, image descriptions and other relevant content, all with the aim of being easily found via search engines in every target language used. A good SEO translation is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving successful international SEO and greater visibility worldwide.

The foundation: a good SEO strategy in the source language

When this is done on an international scale, many aspects need to be considered: first of all, it is important to understand technical SEO, the architecture of websites in different languages, linking and much more. There is extensive and detailed information out there, and web and SEO agencies can help. To get started, we recommend “Alles auf Start”, the podcast by SEO expert Markus Hövener, especially the episode on the technical aspects of international SEO (only available in German).

When it comes to the actual (text) content, called content SEO, companies either work with their own advertising/online agency that does SEO, or, if they have more exacting standards, with an SEO agency. The latter are undoubtedly experts who possess valuable SEO knowledge, but they are usually not international companies and only cover additional or several languages to a limited extent. When they work with native speakers, it is mostly for English-language content. French and Spanish are the exception, and important languages such as Japanese, Vietnamese or Polish are not even included at all.

If companies have an open mind about technology, they use SEO tools themselves to identify keywords and create keyword lists in their source language – and then optimise their own content, from text to images and videos, right down to the details of meta and ALT text.

But how do they go about translating content into a foreign language so that it works as effectively as the source language?

This is where the expertise of a language service provider comes in, one with real linguistic and SEO expertise which – in oneword’s case – can cover around 80 languages that are pertinent to communicating on a global scale.
This all starts with taking stock of and assessing the foundations of the source language: Is there an SEO strategy? How up to date is it? How successful is it? If the foundation of the SEO translation is faulty, the end result will not be much better. Therefore, the first step is to ensure and implement a clean SEO strategy for the home market. This means asking critical questions about the way the current source language has been implemented: What does the headline and text structure look like? Have the image texts been optimised? Are the texts as unique as possible and, most importantly, relevant to the target group? This groundwork must also be optimised before the actual SEO translation begins.

Deriving information: An SEO strategy in the target language that is just as good

The next step is to create a concept for the relevant target languages and countries. Among other things, it is important to note which search engines are used the most: Google is the undisputed market leader in German-speaking and European countries. In other countries (only available in German), search engines like Yandex or Baidu are dominant. For these, too, the technical questions mentioned above should be clarified and the right goals for the project should be defined.

SEO translation in practice: What needs to be considered?

Keyword lists form the basis of SEO translation. However, these should not simply be translated, but researched specifically for the target market and target group. The original keyword list can form the basis for this, but a simple translation can lead to cultural misunderstandings and serious mistakes, and, most significantly, can mean that the products or services are less visible or not visible at all on the internet.
Even the best native-speaker translators have their limits when it comes to translating keyword lists. Firstly, there are often several ways to translate words and not all of them are relevant to the intended target group. Secondly, the crucial buzzword that is relevant for SEO is often different to the usual way it is used. Therefore, just like when creating source-language keyword lists, it is also important to identify the right keywords in the target language, to take criteria such as search volume and competitor density into account and also to consider the cultural context.

It is the combination that makes it: using SEO and translation skills

At oneword, we use professional, native-speaker translators with SEO experience and SEO experts for SEO translation and keyword research. We also lay the best technical foundations and employ SEO tools to create the right keyword lists for the SEO translation. The SEO translators then translate the content, taking into account the keywords and targeting the leading search engine in the target country.

International companies benefit from our multi-faceted expertise as a language service provider. It means that keywords are not the only thing that make their way into the text. The company’s vocabulary, in the form of terminology specifications, is also used in the target text to ensure that the result is fully adapted to the company. The results can be complementary or congruent.

With this optimal combination of technology and expertise, you too will succeed in entering the foreign market. Suitable keyword lists and optimally matched content make it possible to be found by search engines in every target country. In addition, international SEO is now an essential foundation for an SEA (Search Engine Advertising; only available in German) strategy. After all, the ads in Google Ads or Bing Ads also work by using matching keywords and matching content.

Are you responsible for websites and content in several languages and do you want to be found on different countries’ search engines? Would you like to use your content in other languages by translating it and optimising it with SEO ? Then talk to us.
If you are still unsure whether an SEO translation makes sense for you, complete the free checklist (only available in German).

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