Discover EVERYTHING about SEO Translation

Author : Coco Solution
27 de Febrero, 2020
If you want a text to be positioned at the top of the search engines you will have no choice but to make use of SEO translation.

I confess it. When I started studying Translation and Interpreting I never imagined that I would dedicate myself to SEO Translation. If at that time someone had asked me anything about this type of translation, I probably would have gone blank. I think that this type of translation should be mentioned –at least– during the teaching of this specific career.


Every translator will certainly have received classes about commercial, tourist, legal or economic translation, among others. But in the universities SEO sounds like something from another planet... Even in master’s degrees specialised on multimedia translation positioning in search engines is not even named (true story!), but dubbing, subtitling, voice over, website or software localisation…


Of course, it’s no surprise that both teachers and clients don’t know very well what is a SEO translator. Regarding this matter, as the prestigious translator Chris Durban said, ‘hiring a translation without knowing anything about the subject is like entering the unknown’. No wonder even today I continue to discover many things about this exciting world of the SEO-friendly translations, as many marketeers like to say.


What is SEO translation? 🧐

First things first. If, for some reason, we were to analyze in detail the visits to a certain website, we would see very quickly that many users arrive at the site in various ways:


  • By typing the address in the navigation bar
  • Through a link on another site
  • Through social networks (such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter...)
  • By typing some word(s) in a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.


It’s on web search engines where translating SEO content correctly is vital, since they’re probably the most important tools when looking for information. Surely you know someone (or even you are one of those people!) who writes on the Internet such random questions as ‘what to do in Madrid’, ‘where to eat in Paris’ or ‘cheap hotels in Rome’...


In other words, those times when you had to use telephone directories like the yellow pages or even call a telephone operator are, fortunately, behind us. Thus, without the work of a translator specialized in SEO, it would be very difficult for users to find what they are looking for on the Internet.


In fact, no matter how well written a text is, if it isn’t correctly optimized for search engines it won’t appear in the first results of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). However, to really understand the importance of SEO translation, one should first understand what SEO is. A very good definition is the next one:


Search engine positioning is based on a set of actions aimed at improving the ranking of a website in the list of search engine results. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) works on technical aspects such as the optimization of the structure and metadata of a website, but it’s also applied at content level, with the goal of making it more useful and relevant to users.


How to translate content for better SEO traffic 🤔

Every professional who works in the world of translation (and this applies to all fields) makes use of different translation strategies (such as omission, cultural adaptation, paraphrasing, substitution, explicitation, literal translation, etc.) so that the target text is as close as possible to the source text. This is something basic that is taught in the first university year. It’s Translation 101.


However, even though the great Italian writer Umberto Eco said that ‘both philosophers and linguists have concluded that there are no rules for deciding what is a good translation’, a SEO-friendly translation is... another story. In addition to the above, other factors must be taken into account in order to obtain a result that ranks as high as possible in search engines.

≫ The source language should have a quality content 👍

If the text in the source language is badly written, it’ll still be badly written in the target language. No matter how good the translator is... he or she can’t perform miracles!


≫ Choose the most relevant content 🔍

Translating a whole website or all the articles in a blog at once is crazy. A better strategy is to focus on the pages, products or articles that attract the most traffic.


≫ Manage translations professionally 🔝

Translating means planning, organization and productivity. Go back to those first tips that professors gave you when you started uni.


Translation + SEO + (good) Content = VALUE #CustomerSuccess

— MindTouch (@MindTouch) May 11, 2016


≫ Always translate metadata ✅

In addition to the text, other elements that influence positioning such as the following must be translated:

  • Keywords (having a Keyword Research in the target language and some notions of SEO is a plus)
  • Meta Title and Meta Description
  • ALT attributes of the images
  • URL


Ideally, the same translator should handle all the content of a web and not several professionals, which would result in final inconsistencies.

≫ Consider language and cultural differences 🗺️

SEO translation is not exempt from this basic aspect. Obviously, a user from Canada doesn’t use the same vocabulary as one from Singapore. Nor does a potential client from a luxury hotel and one from a cheap hostel.


One must consider the search intention of the user. Perhaps a British tourist is looking for ‘cheap hotels in Gran Canaria’, but a Spanish ones types ‘hoteles baratos en Maspalomas’.


Therefore, if the search intention changes between the two languages, no matter how good the translator's work is, the target text won’t be positioned correctly.


≫ Don't be obsessed with SEO 🤷🏻‍♂️

Although it may sound contradictory, the most important thing is to offer a quality final product with a natural and interesting language for the target audience.


Certain factors relating to SEO must be taken into account, but the text shouldn’t look like it was written for a robot. Think more about the people than the search engines.

≫ Trust a native SEO translator or a certified non-native SEO translator 🏅

Logically, if the professional translator is a native speaker, so much the better. However, just because a translator is a native speaker it doesn’t mean that he or she knows about positioning.


It’s better to trust a SEO translator, even if he or she isn’t a native speaker, than a one who has no knowledge of SEO at all. However, the translator must be certified.


In short, SEO translation is a world apart within the translation industry, as companies gradually look to their online businesses to increase traffic, conversions and sales. Be sure to visit Coco Solution's blog to keep up to date with everything related to digital marketing.

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