translation for search engine marketing

A Smart Web Marketing Tool? Try Translation

The fuel for your search engine marketing

In the era of infinite information, human-to-human approach seems to become the most important sales-driving force. But implementing H2H marketing, which is a true paradigm shift, can be hard after many years of traditional models. The translation strategy lacks ‘a human touch’ in many B2 companies working with industries and technologies.

A customer-centric strategy might be the most misunderstood component of marketing communications. It requires to focus on the customers’ experience and to understand what they like and need. Meaningful communication—conversational, story-driven, and even humorous—is easier said than done.

A human is delivering the communication and another human is receiving. With corporate values set in stone, with a content workflow in place, it is hard to change the ecosystem. But you need trust to be successful both locally and abroad and not pure algorithms. And a bit of web visibility to ignite that trust. So make translations work for your SEM.

Content: the approach to be changed

At the recent Social Media Week conference in New York, brand marketers kept wondering if they spent too much money on the wrong content. A related challenge is a disproportional breakdown of what brands spend on content creation vs. content distribution.

Developing high-value content can be costly, but brands invest only 10% in creating content and 90% in its distribution.

“The problem is 90% of the impact comes from content creation, not distribution,” Noah Brier, co-founder and CEO of Percolate, said in a session called “The Spiralling Cost of Content.”

Translation fits in that trend, too.

More than a half of the top 10 million websites is in English. 73 percent of internet users don’t speak English, according to Internet World Stats (as of June 2016). That means only a quarter of web surfers use English, and the number is growing.

A lot of marketers see translation as a cost while it is a tool for content creation. Translation is not an extra cost but a major investment. Search engines still index English better than content in other languages. So a multilingual web strategy should be handled with care.

Why translation is good for your SEO

To make a website visible or boost its ranking in unpaid search results, the content should meet three criteria, all based on trust:

– Domain/website age
– Diverse incoming links
– Well-written content with keywords

While the domain age is out of one’s control, you can do your best to get healthy links pointing to your site. And you are able to create relevant content, which should be error-free, non-duplicated, and highly engaging.

By translating the most important pages you make your website better indexed. Engagement is the current standard for content effectiveness. Google favours the content which is useful for the search engine users.

For instance, blog posts continue to drive traffic and generate impressions up to 700 days after they go live, according to the study commissioned by IZEA.

The content should inspire, educate, entertain, and finally, it should convert. Unless the content is in a language internet users speak, they are unlikely to engage with it.

High-quality translated content becomes another step in your trust building and content engagement strategy aimed at current and potential customers from abroad.

What translation is good for your SEO

About five to ten years ago, organic traffic was associated mainly with keywords and keyword density. Now that Google is able to add close variations, synonyms and related searches of your keyword or phrase automatically, the focus has changed.

Highly relevant keywords related to the content your customers browse are still important. But a prerequisite for good ranks and search traffic is the content and it should be translated professionally.

It may sound funny but using the automatic translation like Google Translate is actually against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines saying: no automatically generated content including texts translated by an automated tool.

In addition to possible Google penalties, chances are high that visitors won’t linger on your web page too long if it’s mistranslated. And errors are definitely not adding to their trust.

Great technologies deserve great translation, human-oriented and carefully crafted. For today’s search engine marketing, quality excels quantity every single time.

Things a professional translation can do for your website:

  • 100% clear and accurate comprehension of public-facing content
  • Better ranking of pages aimed at local audiences
  • Better user experience resulting in shares, leads, and conversions
  • Gained visibility and trust for major markets abroad
  • Better supports of your local distributors

Use translated content to generate new leads, sell your products, build the brand, and divert traffic from your competitors.

A useful test is to ask, “Does this really help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” ElaN Languages decided to show it in its video where a chef is cooking a Japanese recipe as translated by humans vs. automated results.

Your website is your business card so careful phrasing does matter here. Otherwise, it would be inauthentic and ineffective for people not speaking English. Do you want your customers to eat plastic horses and giggle at some stunning mistakes while you claim to deliver state-of-the-art solutions? Show them you care.

translated collateral

Translation and Your Marketing Strategy

Haunted castles of translated collateral

The efficiency of traditional marketing has dropped dramatically. A very low response rate (less than 1%) is considered reasonable for certain marketing channels.

Customers bombarded by advertising have mastered the art of ignoring the noise while companies paying for media placement have accepted ad blindness as unavoidable.

Market players assure that they keep searching for customised ways to spread a word about their offerings and to increase brand awareness. They try to use a wide range of strategies to become closer to their consumers and to engage them. A quarter-inch hole instead of a quarter-inch drill, you know.

A couple of years ago Dell announced massive translation budget cuts. Now, the person responsible for the translation of corporate marketing collateral tells about ‘a polished global message that meets business objectives’. (A highly recommended reading for translators who are still under a delusion that globalised companies are interested in high-quality content or translations.)

If you take a look at Dell’s marketing materials translated into Russian, you’ll see that:

принтеры помогают предприятиям максимизировать эффективность работы и производительность

Could we call it the right balance of quality, velocity, and cost? Hardly. New translations may cost twice as less. Lacking engagement from the target audience, they are worth nothing. You could consider them worth reading only if it’s your job to read them (it would better be a well-paid job, too).

Such translated collateral could possibly enjoy certain interest and engagement: from a marketing team preparing praising reports on doing everything at scale. Or from professional forums where translators discuss the ways things should not be done.

Companies keep complaining that translation service providers do not care about their image ignoring their demands and requirements. Are they actually doing anything to protect their own brands? Do they take translation processes seriously?

They do have a bunch of pressing issues to take care of, from investments into a concept, to content curation, to legal attendance, to content printing / publication.

But the crucial stage is the one that either makes it or breaks it. The latter means time, costs, and efforts were wasted up the line. Does it really matter how much the company has invested in content, design, or printing if the translated collateral resembles a haunted castle? We see an impressive outline void of life or sense.

Too many translation industry players (or LSPs) are unable to turn words into their client’s positive image focusing at optimization and automation. They make their living not on quality and creativity but on sheer volumes.

Part of the Power that would always wish Good…

It looks like business marketing is in serious trouble. Here is a viewpoint with meaningful figures: 80% of executives think their companies deliver a superior experience for customers, only 8% of those customers agree with them.

Many insist that the time has come to be fascinating and interesting, clear and relevant. But nothing changes in press releases and collateral. It’s much easier to continue the usual marketing talk about value-added and industry transforming products than to offer real-world facts and figures.

Technology and product reviews work much better when you are eager to make a difference with your audience and to offer them relevant information. But for the majority of marketers, plain language and simplicity are terra incognita.

Dropping translation for good is not an option. After studying the most visited websites for 8 years, CSA Research concluded that companies offering materials in different languages are in general more successful than the ones that do not care about localisation.

If the company ignores marketing translation, customers might think that it cannot afford the process. Meanwhile, a bad translation emphasises problems with the copy, which is usually far from being perfect. Translators do know a trick or two to avoid that, but sometimes even an experienced translator won’t save the day.

Let’s see how to get translations that work for small and medium companies. We speak about the market players who are interested not in translating at scale, but in translating efficiently in order to make a good return on their marketing investments.

Light at the end of the press release?

What can you do to get high-quality translated collateral without stretching your marketing budget too much?

Set your priorities. Choose materials that are really important for translation or publication.

If the price for complete website localisation seems too high for you, make it a dozen of pages provided they are flawless. The localised variant should be ok with you, with online visitors, and with SEOs (which is not always the same thing).

If a user guide or a press release contains info about realities not relevant for the target country, skip the info or give an abridged variant.

Outline your goals. Good translations help to sell; bad translations have a negative effect on your sales.

When planning marketing budgets, considerable costs are assigned to design, copy, and placement. Too often, translations are overlooked or financed from leftovers.

The eye-pleasing ‘cover’ should contain the content worth of your local customer’s attention. Make sure your budgets make it possible.

Be closer to a real world. If the customer does not believe you, they would hardly buy anything from you. Do you consider it reasonable to invest in translation that does not resonate with your target audience?

The less your content feels like marketing talk, the more persuasive it is. Try translating product reviews, white papers, and case studies instead of marketing copies.

Facts and figures backed by trustworthy sources are your real world.

Adapt collaterals. You cannot translate a marketing copy ‘as is’. Marketing translations need a creative touch.

Ideally, the text is recreated for a given target audience. To serve marketing purposes, the translation needs to flow well and mean well in the target language. Not every English copy is a good fit for the Russian-speaking audience.

Create locally. Your dealers or distributors can create some marketing content locally instead of translating non-relevant news.

Geographically targeted news is more likely to trigger a positive reaction: local installations, case studies, market share growth, customer service news and updates, etc. Look for content, which adds value to your customers’ workflows.

Below you will find three key components for shaping out an efficient translation process.

1 Requirements and demands

For translations at scale, consider preparing your own style guide (take a look at a style guide the European Commission Directorate General for Translation uses) and/or a glossary.

Focus on requirements, issues, and terms relevant to your business or industry; avoid general advice. If you face the same errors and translation challenges regularly, be sure to add them to your style guide.

2 Targeted marketing

The choice of preferable language and style for your marketing copies depends on the target audience. A corporation addressing the market or one human talking to another? Industry-specific terms or descriptions that are clear to everyone?

To answer these questions, you need to identify your target audience: professionals, hobbyists, decision-makers, etc. The basic demographic variables for the marketing industry are age, education, sex, buying / customer preferences.

3 Linguists

Not every translator is able to cope with stylistic nuances and adaptation. Look for translators with experience in marketing and copywriting. Be realistic about in-house translations.

A translator specialising in marketing communications: a) knows a lot about your industry and your target audience; b) has excellent translation skills; c) has excelling copywriting skills.

When cooperating with a professional translator, you get a reliable partner. One project after another, “your translator” gets to learn more about your demands, your products, and your customers. The quality of translations you receive goes even higher affecting your marketing ROI positively.

language of marketing materials

Writing Plain is Worth it

Some points about the language of marketing materials

Getting bored with the repeated marketing nonsense when looking through similar press releases and marketing copies? Try the all-new Marketing Bullshit Bingo by translatorsanonymous.

I guess you know the principle. Whenever you see one of the buzzwords on your table, check it off and call out “Bingo!”

As soon as you have a row of five in any direction, you can stand up and shout “BULLSHIT!!!” The work involved in creating the text in front of you (including yours if you are in the supply chain) is pretty much a waste of time.


If this Bingo version does not blind you, feel free to make your own ‘industry-specific’ variant.

You can use:

  • advanced
  • high-performance
  • full-featured
  • scalable
  • integrated
  • optimize
  • leading edge

Please do not forget to include:

  • productivity
  • enable
  • robust
  • leverage

And be sure to add ‘innovative’ and ‘original’. Most companies and most products claim to be innovative. I guess most are not.

Translating the same ready-made phrases again and again, I keep wondering why they do it. Why are they investing in rubbish wasting money for writing, translation, publication, analyzing feedback (if any)?


They speak about the increasing popularity of plain language and clear writing. But nothing changes in the language of marketing materials and press releases. It is much easier to offer a new piece of ‘value-added’ and ‘industry transforming’ stuff instead of presenting facts and being specific.

Building a connection with your prospects is far better than simply offering them the information. But can we speak about a connection if the company handles its press releases as disposable messages targeted only at media editors? There is a strong need to understand how your materials can be meaningful and helpful to your target audience.

Steve Jobs once said: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Killing buzzwords forces you to speak human-to-human, to be simple in a fresh way and to become more flexible. All bad marketing copies are alike. Every good marketing copy is good in its own way. If you seek to be heard, you should think out of the box.


If your marketing materials aren’t translated, international markets assume that your company cannot afford it. But when translated, buzzwords become even more hollow and meaningless. Translators do have a couple of tricks to avoid it, but in some cases even creative translation is helpless.

We lose trust from our readers when we use the same clichès and jargon again and again. These words are too general and vague to create a feeling of something worthy. And your local dealers are perfectly aware of the fact.

The Russian written language is sensitive to repetitions and clichés. You need a very experienced translator to transcreate buzzwords into something more meaningful for your target audience. If not, too much of the work is pointless.

The audience does not read buzzwords. They are being scanned and ignored. And if the company’s marketing copy is buzzwords all along, you can be sure it will be ignored, too. Even a perfect translator won’t help. Garbage in, garbage out.

From press releases and brochures to open days and exhibition booths, be more flexible and talk to your customers instead of announcing ‘innovations’ with ‘enhanced interoperability’. Stop recycling the same phrases and ideas. Especially if you are trying to grow your presence in countries with languages other than English.

5 golden rules of marketing translations

Marketing Translations Guide

5 Golden Rules

Marketing texts are all about engagement.

You put together thoughtful sentences and catchy phrases to invoke positive feelings of your readers. You try to create music from words, technical texts in rhyme.

But the result of your efforts might vanish after your materials have been translated for international markets. Words mean little if the message behind them is lost in translation.

Many consumers associate quality of high-tech products and services with the quality of the company’s marketing materials—brochures, product presentations, press releases, websites.

Translation quality is an important decision if you want to capitalize on the rapidly growing Russian-speaking markets.

1. Don’t rely on free/cheap resources

Translation costs are a fraction of investments required for entering a new market or a new industry segment. You may think that you will be saving money, but you will lose in the end.

How much attention do you pay to your marketing strategy? How much do you invest in producing marketing materials? The translation may add to your marketing efforts or ruin them.

If you really want to be effective, you need to follow a content strategy in order to get the results you are looking for. And your most important, mission-critical content is to be handled by professional translators.

2. Stay away from ‘casual’ translations

Half-hearted efforts will waste your money. Moreover, the result can turn offensive for your target audience. A badly translated or confusing copy in an inexpressive language means a possibility of a subconscious negative impulse associated with your company.

Marketing translations require adapting a message to another language while maintaining its style and tone. When compared to usual straight translations, they are much closer to the so-called ‘transcreation’ and sometimes even to copywriting.

Marketing materials are to be recreated for a given target audience instead of just translating existing content. The main task of translation here is to fulfill marketing objectives.

3. Find an expert

Much depends on who owns the marketing budget. If the marketing budget is owned by a local subsidiary, the translation will probably happen locally.

In any case, you need to put the right partner on your side who will help to reach and engage your target audience. And they will bring you a much higher return on your investment.

When speaking about marketing materials for technical companies, the need for niche experts becomes obvious. Every segment of marketing communications has its own nuances. ‘The one size fits all’ concept is outdated.

Your translator / translating company should be familiar with industry-specific terms, concepts, trends. High-quality translation is the second clear criterion.

4. Be open to adapt

The main task of marketing translation is to get the message across by engaging the reader. And sometimes, it means the original should be translated freely.

Russian-speaking readers of technical marketing texts can boast immunity to clichés and buzzwords. You cannot expect a translator to use the usual straight approach when translating words like advanced, value, leverage, optimize, integrated, smart, enjoy, manage, etc.

Don’t look for missing words when evaluating a marketing translation. Look for missing ideas and messages.

If you are committed to a content strategy meaning credible, trustworthy, transparent content that enhances the organization’s strategic goals, you should be open to embrace and adapt.

5. Engage your local offices or dealers

Please do not forget that it is your local office that will work with localized marketing materials. A proper in-country review definitely adds value by refining industry-specific terms and notions. Especially, when we are talking about B2B products and technologies.

An ideal person for an independent evaluation is not ‘a university lecturer’ or ‘a highly skilled linguist’. Rather it should be a reviewer who is knowledgeable about your product and marketing, understands both the source and target language, has the time and desire to contribute to a positive outcome.

Sounds next to impossible, I know. But delivering a perfect marketing translation has always been a challenging quest. And a rewarding one.