SEO Translation: How to Translate Your Website to Rank in Other Countries

Just like there’s SEO copywriting and optimisation, you also have SEO translation. SEO translation is a multipart process of doing keyword research in another language, translating your SEO content and reoptimising it for a new region or language.

If you’ve created a monolingual SEO strategy, you already know the drill:

  • You map out keywords you need to target and a plan for link building and ranking
  • You create loads of content in order to rank for those keywords

Alternatively, you may have outsourced this work to an SEO agency, but the moral of the story is that SEO takes an investment, whether in time or money.

The unfortunate part is that translating SEO-optimised content, even if the translation is great, doesn’t guarantee that your content will also rank in your new language. That’s because you need to both:

  1. Find the right keywords for the translated text (which sometimes are not the same as the original text)
  2. Match the search intent—people may be searching for different kinds of content for the translation of the same keyword.

Sometimes it takes two people: 

  • A translator specialised in your subject
  • An SEO specialist in your target language who can do the keyword research and optimise each piece

But, it can be the same person! Enter the SEO translator. 

SEO translation vs. multilingual keyword research

Before SEO translation can take place, perform multilingual keyword research. You can’t optimise the translated piece for SEO without this part done. We recommend you translate your keywords and check local search volume with Google keyword planner. Check with a professional translator / SEO specialist that the keyword matches the meaning and search intent as the original. A lot of the time, you’ll have to pick new keywords, or different variations than what you thought.

Do this for the primary keyword and all the secondary keywords that will be included in your SEO-optimised pieces. You can expect to have around 3-4 keywords for static pages and more for blog posts.

Once you have all the keywords prepared, you can start the SEO translation. This will include translating or localising the piece while inserting the keywords in a natural place. Any internal links should be replaced with the target-language version, and external links should be replaced with links going to websites in the target language.

Localization of metadata

You’ll have to translate the title tag and metadata as well as the content itself. The title tag is the title that is displayed when your page or article appears as a search result (sometimes it’s different from the H1, or main title). The metadata is the description that is displayed underneath. 

(Source)

Ideally, these should include the primary keyword and sometimes also the secondary keywords.

The metadata can be translated last.

Prioritizing your pages to SEO translate

Any search engine optimisation strategy, regardless of whether it’s in one or more languages, needs to start with an understanding of your audience’s search habits. Some content might be more successful in one language than another, and the same goes for keywords. Mapping out the strategy will help you discover what to translate. You might have to create some new content.

How do you prioritise which pages you should SEO translate in your global content strategy? Start with your main money pages: landing pages and stand-alone pages you use for any kind of product validation or lead generation. Then, translate your homepage and your product pages.

You shouldn’t translate all your product pages—some might not be relevant to your new audience. If you don’t ship certain products to that country, for example, there’s no need to translate that content. Or you may have regulations that don’t allow a certain feature in another country, another case in which it would be pointless to translate that content.

Lastly, translate your blog pieces. The ones that are relevant to your new target customers, of course.

SEO translation best practices

Here are some best practices we recommend when doing SEO translation:

Test the search results in the different languages

Search for your translated keywords and see what comes up. Are the results very different? Does the search intent vary? You may need to completely recreate the content rather than translating it. 

Use dedicated URLs

Make sure you have a special sub-category for your language-specific content.

For example, if your main page is in English, all your French content should be on: www.awesomewebsite.com/fr/

This will prevent any penalties from Google about duplicate content.

Use hreflang attributes

You can use hreflang attributes to tell Google both the language of the page and which region it’s for.

You can insert the below tag in your page’s header section. For example, a hreflang tag referencing a Brasilian Portuguese page would look like this:

Only use one language per page

Maybe this goes without saying, and maybe it’s clear from the above, but don’t use more than one language on a page. Make separate pages, with separate sub-categories for each language. Never put multiple languages on one page!

Any questions about how to start your SEO translation strategy? Get in touch with us, it’s kind of what we do!



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