Ranking high on Google is something that businesses put a great deal of time and effort into – and rightly so, as Google accounts for a whopping 79% of all desktop search traffic in the world. For companies that work across international borders, the use of translation services to improve their SEO and thus their organic traffic overseas is invaluable. This article looks at how companies strategically and effectively go about doing so.
The importance of SEO
On any given day, Google receives more than 63,000 searches every second. The first result that it produces receives 44.64% of clicks, according to a 2017 study from Ignite Visibility. Both of these are powerful reasons why companies are so intent on optimizing their websites for Google. Doing so can produce a huge uptick in organic traffic, particularly if the coveted first result spot can be achieved.
While SEO is always something of a dark art, thanks to algorithm changes and shifting rules around what is and aren’t acceptable in terms of link building, a solid focus on high-quality content is essential. Thoughtful, natural use of keywords and a detailed approach to keyword research are also extremely important for those looking to climb the rankings. And for companies who deliver their website in more than one language, this is where translation companies are worth their weight in gold.
Actionable data in translation
Using data to your advantage is key to search engine success. Taking information on rankings, backlinks and SERP competitors and turning it into a strategy with clear-cut actions can allow a website to climb up Google’s rankings rapidly (provided, of course, that the fundamental quality of the content is sound). However, the process is language-specific. It is not sufficient to build a strategy around SEO in English and then simply use website translation to deliver that site in French. Instead, the same process of researching and using actionable data must be applied in each language that the website uses. The principles are the same, but the data will differ.
A translation agency is an ideal resource to help with this. Agencies have access to translators covering a vast range of language pairings, allowing a website owner to use professional linguists to research multiple languages simultaneously. The site owner will need to work closely with each translator to establish clarity on the data, then build that into the translation of the website. Thus each website translation will be optimized to perform well in the search rankings in each language.
A word about localization
The other advantage of engaging professional translation services is their ability to localize web content. Localization services go beyond the conversion of content from one language to another. Instead, they consider the content from the point of view of a native speaker of that language. Localization experts consider cultural norms, historical details, religious leanings and many more aspects of a culture. They then shape the translation to ensure that it does not cause offence based on any of those elements. They also consider things like slang terms and pop culture references, to ensure that the translated copy doesn’t cause inadvertent amusement as well.
Localization and translation services go hand in hand, so it’s well worth engaging both when it comes to copying that is being presented to international audiences, whether through website translation, mobile app translation or document translation.
Why use translation to build organic traffic in multiple languages?
There was a time, not so very long ago, when the English language dominated cyberspace. English remains a key language on the internet, with W3Techs reporting that roughly half of the homepages of the most visited sites are in English. However, other languages are catching up fast.
Internet World Stats reports that there are just over 1.05 billion English-language internet users. They are followed by Chinese-language users (804 million), Spanish-language users (337 million) and Arabic-language users (219 million). In total, just 25% of internet users participate in English. That means that companies who deliver English-only content and ignore translation are failing to reach out to 75% of the global population.
What’s more, non-English language internet penetration often lags behind that of the English language. 72.2% of the world’s English-language population uses the internet, compared to just 55.4% of those who speak Chinese, 65.5% of those who speak Spanish and 50.3% of those who speak Arabic. This means that there is much greater scope for an increase in the number of those who use the internet in Chinese, Spanish or Arabic than there is in those who use it in English.
Using translation services strategically to build organic traffic
Engaging language services to undertake a website translation project can result in a highly profitable increase in organic traffic across multiple languages. To get the best out of the translation agency, it is a good idea to prepare a project brief detailing the overall goal of the translation and localization work. The more thorough the brief, the better the agency will be able to deliver on the project. If translators are aware of the company’s ethos and values, for example, then they can bear these in mind when faced with choosing the most appropriate words and phrases during the translation process.
The company commissioning the translation work can take a strategic approach if converting its website to multiple languages at once. It can deploy translators to gather information on rankings, backlinks and SERP competitors in multiple languages then assess with languages to prioritize, based on the results. A multilingual strategy can then be developed, based on tackling languages in a certain order. The results of each translation, in terms of the site climbing the Google rankings in that language, can then be used to further develop and enhance the strategy.
The case for professional translation
The case for professional translation is simple. Companies work hard to ensure that their websites can be successful and appear as high up in search results as possible. There is a cost to the company for doing this, but one that should be offset against the increase in income and exposure that the higher search engine position achieves.
The same is true of investing in creating a site in other languages. To simply translate a website without optimizing it to build organic traffic would be to miss a trick. Yes, there is a cost to undertaking research on actionable data in other languages, and to professional translation and localization services, but it should be possible to balance that expenditure against the site’s improved performance in search engine rankings around the world.
We live in an increasingly globalized society. While multilingual website delivery may once have been something that only global blue chip companies considered, services that embrace an international approach can enjoy incredible results. Netflix is a prime example – the service is available in 190 countries, with streaming-only plan members able to watch TV in any and all of them. Only China, Crimea, North Korea, and Syria lack Netflix services, and the latter three are due to US governmental restrictions on American companies. By taking a global approach and using translation services as part of that strategy, Netflix has left its competitors in the dust. Is it time for your company to do the same?