Photo via Crossett Library Bennington College
Did you know that translating your website can open you up to a more global audience? Sounds like common sense, but while many do this via Google Translate and think “well, that was easy” could be missing out on a lot of traffic!
Sure, translating your content makes it a whole lot easier to read, but how will your website or an international version of your website rank in terms of their search engines results?
Well, if your SEO isn’t translated, then chances are your now translated content is just translated content with nobody to find it or read it.
There are words, phrases, conjugations, acronyms, and shortcuts that a professional SEO translator would know how to use- and chances are, most of us aren’t professionally trained SEO translators. But if you’re serious about getting traffic to your website and attracting more readers, it is absolutely essential that the website you have created to attract international visitors be as legitimate as possible to your foreign audience.
Web surfers and your potential customers are smarter than ever, and it’s important not to underestimate their ability to gauge whether a site is legitimate and credible or not. This will make all the difference in drawing visitors to your website or the next person’s site. Interested? Not sure where to begin?
I’ll highlight four major tips that will get you on the road toward success.
Research your keywords, rather than translating them
One common mistake is to assume that direct translations of keywords will work just as well in other languages. Keyword research is always and still should be the first step to identify markets and show levels of competition. Of course the best option, especially if you don’t know the language at all, is to hire SEO specialists. But if you’re on a budget, an alternative is doing it yourself with the assistance of native-speaking translators. First, you translate your keywords and brainstorm any alternative/similar terms. After that, you get with your native speaker for some additional suggestions (i.e. :non technical terms, slang and or different dialects).
Your native speaking translator will be able to assist you with all of this. Finally, ask yourself whether the keywords you have selected are relevant to your content and likely to create traffic & sales. Google Adwords and Wordtracker are free tools that allow you to set a specific language and location and check the popularity and level of competition for keywords.
Secure a great domain name
Get a domain name that’s in the country or region you are targeting. Don’t fall victim to using a subdomain or subfolder off your main site! Search engines give priority to high level in-country domain names, like domainanme.fr or domainname.de. This is particularly important in China, since their major search engine Baidu shows favoritism to local sites. Typically there is a lot less competitions for good domain names in most other countries. This being said you should be able to purchase a domain name that has your main keyword in it.
Optimize by regional area, not by language
If you translate your website for Latin American readers, then you’ll also pick up European users and Spanish speakers in the United States. It’s certainly cheaper to have one Spanish website for all these countries. But you’ll get better results by having separate, optimized sites, for each target country.
I am sure you are aware that Google and other search engines penalize heavily fo having duplicate content, but they don’t recognize it in translation. Meaning all of your sites can be direct translation off your English site with no penalty from the Search Engines.
More importantly, it’s vital to consider the differences in language, dialect and culture between countries. Just as there are numerous differences between US and UK English, the same applies to Spanish, French and Arabic. Targeting by region means you can include local cultural and geographic references, giving it an authentic feel.
Target the right search engines
Everybody knows Google is the world’s biggest search engine however, it’s not king everywhere. Yahoo is still widely used in Japan and South Koreans opt for the home-grown search engine Naver. One reason for Google’s poor performance in the Chinese market is that many people struggle to pronounce it. Until recently, it was known as Gu Ge.
In order to be successful, you need familiarize yourself with the differences between the search engines. Although Yahoo! Japan is powered by Google, it prefers a slightly higher keyword density, of roughly 7 to 8 percent and places more weight on directory listings. Creating your content to include more keywords, and submitting it to relevant directories should be your first course of action if you were attacking this search engines. You need to research your area and which search engine is the major player in the area and optimize your site for that engine if you want to rank well.
What This Means for SEO
SEO is all about traffic, and translation will help give you that and more. Consider some of the reasons translation will work in your favor when it comes to SEO:
Loyalty –Translating your blog will help increase your audience, but they will be more likely come back to your site because they will appreciate how easy it is to read.
Competition – It’s easier to rank well on search engines in different languages because there is less competition.
Duplicate Content – Duplicate content does not matter across languages. This also makes it easy to rank highly on search engines in other languages.
Go and enjoy your exploration into other countries with these SEO international tips. If you have others, please share in the comments section.