Today, companies don’t just translate their site content word for word to reflect their international expansion strategies. They have now gone a step further to ensure their web copies are localized to resonate with their local audience while also optimizing the website for search engines.
According to this report, “75 percent of web visitors prefer to buy products in their native language. Also, 60 percent rarely or never buy from English-only websites.” This implies that, especially for businesses with the ambition to expand into international markets, to compete effectively in the new market they must translate their web content to the dominant language of their target audience.
In some sense that’s the first leg of the strategy. The other part of the plan is to ensure the website is indexed and ranked by search engines – that is, the company must take into account and implement a sound SEO for the site in order to boost visibility.
There are two ways to do this. The first is to translate and then optimize for SEO. The second one is to incorporate SEO best practices as you translate the web content itself.
Each approach has its merits. If for instance we choose to translate our web content first (before implementing any SEO tactics) this could delay the launch date of the website. This seems to reflect an afterthought, and it could also mean getting an extra budget approved to accommodate the additional expense..
In addition, you might have to rewrite all meta-tags and descriptions on your site to incorporate the right keywords.
The second approach – optimizing the website as you translate – means you can work SEO into every bit of text as you go along. There wouldn’t be any need to go over the meta-tags again once you are done. And you can be pretty sure to finish and launch the new website within schedule and budget.
Most SEO-optimized translations often follow this framework.
- Identify two or more core keywords and map them to each page on the site.
- Translate and localize these identified keywords to the target language. Then, work from there to uncover new words, related terms, and synonyms in the target language.
- Use keyword research tools like the free Google Keyword planner to check the search volume of the identified keywords.
- Then, open a spreadsheet to map each keyword with the related English page. This way, you know which keywords are for which page and can easily optimize the page with the appropriate search terms after translation. Keep in mind though, not to keyword stuff the content.
Finally, appealing to the local culture – whether by localizing your content, using color schemes that are relevant to your audience, or even incorporating local idioms – will obviously go a long way in warming your target audience to you, boost user experience, and ultimately impact positively on your conversion rate.
And also don’t forget that all these play into how Google sees your website. As the ranking algorithms evolve, Google takes into account user behaviors on your site – they longer they spend on your pages, the higher your page’s trust signal grows. Fortunately, Google takes into consideration how long users spend on a website when ranking.