Translation for blog posts: issues and workflows

If you serve a multilingual market, you know the importance of translating your website. However, many multilingual sites maintain blogs in one language only. Scriptis has a strong bilingual customer base, and our clients demand content in both English and French. Bilingual content is essential for us. Depending on your market, it may be for you as well. When seeking translation for blog posts, make sure your language services partner takes these factors into account:

What are your key phrases?

SEO is a foundational driver of content strategy. Customers need information to make decisions. When they take to the internet to find answers, you want them to find you. Ideally, each blog post has been constructed around the word, phrase or question that a prospective client might enter into the browser search bar.  To increase the odds of appearing in the search results, a post needs to be written in a manner that signals its relevance to the searcher’s question. Key phrases tell the search engine that the post is relevant.

Basic on-page search engine optimization recommends:

  • The key phrase should appear within the first 60 characters of the title.
  • The key phrase should appear in the first paragraph of the post. It should also be used throughout the post in a natural, readable manner. If it appears too often or too awkwardly, it looks like “key phrase stuffing,” and that’s bad.
  • The meta-description (the blurb that shows up in the search engine results page) should include the key phrase.
  • The URL should include the key phrase.

Some key phrases are highly competitive, and you may never outrank certain industry leaders on the front page of the search results. However, even if your posts never appear on page 1, your blog can still support your sales team. After answering a prospect or client’s question, a salesperson can follow up with a link to a post to provide more information. In addition, much of your social media activity can be centered on promoting your blog posts.

Key phrase translation

The translated version of a blog should also be optimized so that searchers in the target language can find it as well. Your translation team needs to decide on a key phrase translation that accurately reflects the meaning of the original and resonates with searchers. They should also be able to use online tools such as Moz or SEMrush to double-check that their foreign-language version of the phrase ranks well.

How you go about key phrase translation depends on your overall website plan. If you haven’t translated any of your website yet, you should identify all the key phrases you are currently using (one for each page) and work with your language services partner to research and translate the target language key phrases before or during the translation process. If the website has already been translated, and translation for blog posts is a new initiative, you should let your translation team know what key phrase needs to be translated for each blog. They can validate it as they work.

In addition, the team should be aware of the optimizing strategies discussed in the prior paragraph. Different languages use different rules of syntax, so the translation team needs excellent writing skills to optimize the target language blog posts.

Translation for blog posts: nuts and bolts

When preparing a blog post for translation, clearly identify the key phrase each time it appears in the text, titles, subtitles, and metadata.  

Certain translation plugins and proxies provide the translatable content directly to the translator through the editing interface of the CMS. For example, we use the WordPress plugin WPML. When we assign a blog for translation, the translator can log in and see the title, URL, and meta-description in addition to the content. From this, they can figure out the source key phrase, then test a translated target phrase.

Translating directly into the interface is not always a great idea because it doesn’t allow the use of professional translation tools. These tools can identify repeated content, enforce proper use of a termbase and style guide, and provide QA tools that WPML does not. However, WPML does allow the export of the content in a format compatible with translation tools. For other CMS platforms such as Drupal, plugins and connectors can provide translation-ready exports. It’s a complicated landscape, but your language service partner should be able to recommend the best translation workflow for your needs.

Finally, remember that a blog post is only one part of the content that requires translation. You may also need foreign language content to promote the post on LinkedIn or via email and social media campaigns, and you’ll want the right hashtags marked. This is another aspect of translation for blog posts that your language service partner should discuss with you.

Bottom line:  if you publish blogs on a regular schedule, a knowledgeable, responsive language partner should create a custom workflow to smooth the translation process.