Keyword translation and localization for international SEO

Keyword translation and localization for international SEO

When you translate your website to serve an expanding global market, keep search optimization in mind from the very start. Search engine optimization (SEO) includes adapting the content and meta-data to match buyers’ search strategies and search engines’ requirements. Keyword translation and research helps establish a search-friendly foreign language site.

Why would you need keyword translation and localization?

Any given term could correspond to a number of correct translations. Choosing the one most used by searchers in your market requires careful thought and research. Before translation, your team can validate how your customers talk about and search for your products and services.

To take an example from SaaS (Software as a Service), terms for software and digital solutions may vary across languages and cultures. ERP (enterprise resource planning) software might also be called “ERP” by some people in France. However, the acronym does not map onto the French term, which is “système de planification des ressources.” For customer relationship management software, you might see both the English acronym “CRM” and its French definition “gestion d’une base de données clients.” Others might use the acronym “GRC,” drawn from the French term “gestion de la relation client.” Buyers in French-speaking countries might search for these products differently, using both the French and English terms. Research will tell you which term ranks in which French-speaking market, be it Belgium, Canada, France, or Switzerland.

Keyword research needs to be done in-country by native linguists who know your industry and can grasp subtle linguistic differences between markets.

The keyword research process

First, provide a list of keywords for your source language site. Include as much context as possible. We’ll translate the words and phrases first. Then, we analyze search volume and competition data for these and related keywords. Tracking trends in seasonal popularity might also help. Finally, we’ll provide a list of keywords validated by research.

Multilingual keyword research resembles English-language keyword research. Native speakers working in-country provide the best results. Buyers from different cultures and regions think differently about their needs. Global languages such as Spanish, Arabic, French, and German are spoken in multiple countries, but terminology can vary from region to region.

Multilingual keyword research also takes into account the most popular search engines in your target markets. Google remains the leader in North and South America and Europe. Baidu leads the market in China, requiring its own optimization strategies. Google faces stiff competition in Japan, Korea, and Russia as well. Plan for optimization for popular search engines such as Yahoo, Naver, and Yandex.

As a deliverable, you’ll receive a list of relevant foreign-language keywords, ranked and validated for the right search engines. For example, a typical Japanese keyword research deliverable includes rankings for both Google and Yahoo. The translation team will use this term base of validated keywords when writing the web copy and creating meta-data.

Use keywords and phrases wisely

Keywords serve as bait for drawing prospects to your site. Validating your multilingual keywords will improve the chances of your site being found. However, buyers won’t stay if they don’t see relevant and engaging content. Quality content in any language predicts site traffic. “Write for humans, not for machines” remains the web copywriter’s mantra, in any language. Only skilled human translators can craft truly appealing and informative messages.

Click here for our downloadable resource, “Ten Steps for Core International SEO.”