Translating Content for International SEO

Ashley Poynter    By under International SEO.

Translation is a critical consideration for international SEO. There are plenty of translation tools like Google Translate available online, however, these tools are not without their flaws. In short, avoid auto-translation tools where you can when it comes to international SEO. While these tools may cut it for brief translations, they fall short when it comes to web content and marketing purposes. Additionally, Google has been known to view auto-translated content as spam. The best bet is to use a qualified translator to manually translate the content on your website.

There are two main ways to translate content and optimize for SEO:

  • Translate your site accurately into the new target language and then optimize the new content by adjusting keywords and meta tags as needed.
  • Translate your site with SEO optimization in mind, incorporating keywords as your translate.

With the second approach, you have an opportunity to be more accurate with your SEO, though it requires a few more steps than the first approach.

International SEO Tips

Step 1: Start with keyword mapping. Map English keywords to each landing page on your site (1 keyword to each landing page).

Step 2: Translate keywords. Translate keywords into the target language and also look for related keywords in your target language (perhaps synonyms).

Step 3: Verify search volumes. Use a tool like Keywords Explorer in Ahrefs to ensure your keywords in the target language have adequate search volumes and low keyword difficulty.

Step 4: Map translated keywords to original website pages. Once you have honed in on the correct keywords in your new target language, use a spreadsheet to map those keywords to the correct English website pages. Then it's time to translate entire pages into your new target language. As you go through and translate, be sure to include the keyword (in the new target language) throughout the page copy (in H2 headers and in body copy) and in the meta title, meta description, H1 title, and URL.

While it might be tempting to shortcut the entire process with auto-translate, it's a big no-no with negative implications for your international SEO. Google is smarter than you think and prioritizes quality content in all languages. Be sure you check your translated pages for spelling and grammar. Be sure the page content flows naturally and doesn't sound or look like spammy, keyword-stuffed copy. While good keyword use is important, good flow and natural-sounding language is more important. Find a good balance of both.

Pay attention to details. Many languages use accents and other language marks that don't translate cleanly for URLs. Be sure to remove these when creating new URLs. Many content management systems offer plugins or tools to convert URLs without accent and other marks.

One last thing to keep an eye on is how your content translates culturally. Remember that language may not be the only differentiator between your local audience and an international one. Things like measurements, currency, and other nuances may need to be adjusted for your content to make sense in other countries. Go through with a fine-tooth comb to be sure your content is optimized for your new target audiences in every way possible.

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