The Marriage Of SEO And Localization
Localization and search engine optimization (SEO) are two processes rarely uttered in the same breath, considered as separate entities with little bond to one another. This isn’t, or rather shouldn’t be, the case.
This post will look at how SEO can be incorporated into the localization process to produce linguistically accurate and search engine friendly content. Additionally, it will highlight the features and benefits to organisations adopting the SEO/localization approach.
Why haven’t translation and localization industries simply not “got” SEO? Theodore Levitt in his famous article “Marketing Myopia” published in the Harvard Business Review in 1960 talked about railroads not running airlines because they were in the business of running railroads rather than in the business of transporting people from A to B. SEO firms exist principally to generate additional demand for a businesses products and services.
So what exactly is the purpose of localization if marketing is sidelined? In in the case of websites, it’s like offering the pudding without the cream or cherry on top. Without it, your content is ‘optimized’ for the search engines so native speakers are less likely to find your perfect translation.
Why is it so difficult?
If you study the localization industry’s online literature you are struck by the very clear obsession with certain key topics:
- The use of technology
- Maintaining the quality of translation
- Minimizing cost
- The threat from machine translation
The above is interesting because the following topics appear much less frequently:
- Offering value to the website reader
- Delivering return on investment
- Achieving online visibility
- Using web analytics and split-testing software to determine response rates
What these show is that the objectives of SEO and localization are quite different but in order to combine the two, we should look for common attributes.
THREE steps to effectively combine localisation and SEO!
1) Focus on local search engines
It is important that you focus on local engines since this will automatically help to better localise your website. In order to do this;
Claim your local business listings on sites like Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Bing Maps, etc. Most local search still happens at the big search engines, so those have to be priority one. Make sure those listings are all accurate and consistent — same business name, address, and phone number everywhere. Any confusion between business listings can really hurt your local search visibility.
Do the same on the secondary sites like Yelp, Insider Pages, and industry-specific sites like TripAdvisor (if you’re in the travel industry), Urbanspoon (if you’re a restaurant), etc.
Fix up your main web site. Make sure it’s a great experience for visitors. Make sure you’ve taken care of the SEO basics — correct keyword usage in the title tags, good local content across the site, an excellent and detailed maps/location page to help people find you, and so forth.
2) Localize keywords
Localising keywords will help your SEO in local search engines. Different language = new keyword research. No translating! This, as discussed in previous posts, will ensure a good ranking.
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 campaign.
3) Always use human translation.
Translation software has without doubt revolutionised the process of language translation, however not always for the better, particularly in the case of important documents. Prices have indeed become more competitive and turn around times have been slashed. Yet translation software will never be able to provide quality, fluid and meaningful translations simply because of the lack of human involvement.
As a simple way of highlighting the differences between the translations of humans and software, the following experiment can be done. The following piece of German text that needed to be translated into English will be used as an example:
Wir hoffen sehr, dass Ihnen unsere Website gefällt. Bitte lassen Sie es uns wissen, falls wir hässliche Übersetzungsfehler gemacht haben.
After running it through a piece of translation software the resulting translation was:
We hope very that you our websites felled. Please you let know us it if we made ugly translation mistakes.
Whereas one of our human translators translated it as:
We sincerely hope that you enjoy our site and please let us know if we have made any ghastly errors.
It is clear that only human translation can provide sensible translation and this will provide your text with that localized readability.
In conclusion it can be said that combining localization and SEO is not an easy thing to do. But with the right people and techniques it can be achieved. This will help to boost your business to greater popularity and search engine rankings.