Foreign Language Keywords: How To Find Them
The importance of proper keyword research goes beyond simple guessing and testing. It can be a complex task that encompasses a methodical process, that once completed, can set the foundation for ongoing International Search Engine Optimization.
ONE-Find the right words and the correct scope!
If you are to optimise your website for French SEO, the first step is to identify equivalent French search terms. This might not give you the same number of search terms. For instance, if you start with the 10 search terms around the word “socks” (buy socks, buy socks online, glow-in-the-dark socks, etc.), you will most likely end up with twice as many search terms in French, as there are two common words for socks in French (“bas” and “chaussettes”). This might mean that you need to create additional landing pages for French search engine surfers.
Note: be wary of using official translations for keyword research. Your translator probably used the very best vocabulary and grammar possible, including words and conjugations that your target market might never even have heard of, let alone be searching for.
Know the search keywords and phrases used in search engines. Get found for keywords related to your website. Analyze your competition, check your website position in search engines, grow your keyword lists and optimize pages for keyword density and prominence. Research keywords to have your websites rank better in organic and paid search results. Without this first step, your website and keyword marketing campaigns are disadvantaged from the start. Keyword research can help you find keywords with high traffic and weak competition.
- Track and position check website ranking for search keywords in search engines.
Analyze keyword competition. Website backlinks, keyword density, pagerank etc.
- Use multiple online keyword suggestion tools to provide new keywords to research. Combine lists of keywords to generate new keyword lists.
- Analyze keyword density of pages. Adjust keyword importance for titles, headers, text etc.
TWO-Know your targeting purpose!
It’s important to define the language in which the keyword research will be conducted and its targeting purpose. By targeting purpose I mean whether the language to be used will be universal or localized.
- Universal version, also known as international version, is more suitable for internationalization purposes. A good example will be to target the entire Spanish speaking world – 22 different countries and islands- with a common language that will be understood and accepted by the majority rather than using Mexican Spanish, Spanish from Spain, or Peruvian Spanish.Use of colloquialisms, idiomatic expressions or any connotation that will imply adaptation to a local, regional or a specific ethnic sub-group should be avoided.
An example of a good universal keyword in Spanish is the term “Buscadores,” which means Search Engines. Instead, if chosen “Motores de Busqueda,”, which also means Search Engines, it will more likely be understood only by Latin American folks.
- Localized version is important if what you want is to deliver a targeted message to customers of a specific country such as Spain. For this purpose, you should include idioms, cultural aspects and idiosyncrasies of that particular group. A Regionalized version will also apply to geographical areas such as Latin America. Even though there are differences in terminology and applicability among Latino countries, they are more homogeneous when compared to European Spanish.A good example of a localized version for the Spanish term “shopping cart” for visitors from Spain is “Cesta de compras”. The regionalized version for Latin American visitors is “Carrito de compras”.
THREE-Find the right people!
Once you are clear about the coverage of your target language, then you need to find the right human talent to help you with the research. A company such as New Frontier Digital will ensure you get the best optimisation.
No machine can replace humans. So, if you are thinking about using online dictionaries, encyclopedias and keyword research tools such as Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, Compete, Quantcast, Hitwise, Google Keyword Tools and others; with no human intervention, then you are risking your entire project. Human intervention is needed in multilingual keyword research because of sociological, contextual and intrinsic aspects of the language.
While a machine can give you a list of useful keywords for a seed list; the knowledge, meaning and understanding of the context in which each keyword applies is what really matters. For example, the Spanish keyword “Posicionamiento” (Positioning in English) can be understood in Marketing as the process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its product, brand, or organization. Contrarily, this same Spanish keyword can be understood in Internet Marketing as Search Engine Optimization.
I would like to emphasize the fact that it is important to work with native speakers that preferably have experience in the field of research and are familiar with the geographical area for which you are localizing your website. For instance, if you ask me to do keyword research in Spanish, English and perhaps French, I am sure I can deliver results. But if you ask me to conduct research in Russian for terms related to Search Engine Optimization (Поисковая оптимизация сайта), I will be completely lost simply because I don’t speak the language and don’t understand Cyrillic.
Likewise, there are many translators that are familiar with basic legal terminology, but lack deep understanding of the context in which the terms apply. Some even confuse the term “bonds trader” with “bondsman”. The former refers to terminology used in the financial industry to describe someone that trades bonds in the cash market, while the later is strictly used in the U.S. criminal justice to refer to the person that pays the bond on your behave for a fee.
FOUR-Use the right tools for your keyword research
This is a challenging issue in the current state of the keyword research industry. There aren’t many keyword research tools that will allow you to conduct research in multiple languages. In fact, most of them are not even UTF-8 ready, which is the system that represents any character in the Unicode standard. And if you are not familiar with Unicode, you can learn more by visiting the Unicode Consortium page.
Now, image for a second you are conducting keyword research in Simplified Chinese to position your site in Baidu, the Chinese based Search Engine. If the tool you are using is not UTF-8, that means that all you may see is gibberish instead of a proper Simplified Chinese term.
This gets more complicated if you are using generic tools to try to find search volume estimates for a specific keyword in a specific country. And it gets even harder if you are dealing with low search volume keywords.
Google Trends is a clear reflection of this situation. You can find results for high volume searches, even for specific countries, but not so easily for low search volume keywords. Try the following keywords and keyphrases in Google Trends and see what happens:
- Поисковая оптимизация сайта
- Motores de Busqueda
- Palabras Claves
- Bonds Trader
There are some tools like Keyword Discovery that offer information from specific countries for localization purposes. This tool seems to provide relevant estimates for high search volume, but can be off for low search volume keywords. In my personal experience I even found inaccurate results when conducting research for niche terms in Spanish. And the localized Spanish Database Center was a bit off when compared to other localized data.
In conclusion, start your multilingual keyword research by defining your language goals, and decide whether you will be using universal, regional or localized versions. Don’t forget to hire translators that preferably have experience in your niche or products and know the market for which you are localizing. Find the best tools for your needs and make sure they all work by literally seeing the results in your target language. And if you are using Google Keyword Tool or Traffic Estimator install the target language packs for your operating system.