How to Localise Keywords: tips and tricks for effective keyword localisation

How to Localise Keywords: 3 Basic Steps

Tips for effective keyword localisation

To localise keywords effectively, follow three basic stages: translation, adaptation, supplementing and testing. If you have a list of well-performing keywords, you need to complete four main tasks to make your list work in other languages:

  1. Translate keywords correctly.
  2. Localise keywords: adapt them to a new region (taking language, cultural and other differences into account)
  3. Search and add new keywords relevant to the local market like trends, events, etc.
  4. Test the new keywords in search engines and add them to the localised texts.

In its online training on digital marketing, Google underlines that you need a proper translation—and localisation—to overcome language barriers and communicate your ideas and offers. To make local feel like ‘you speak their language’, Google strongly advises in favour of using professional services.

Automated translation is rarely 100% fluent and accurate. Free tool might be tempting but Google penalises websites which use Google Translate for their multilingual pages. The reason is simple: they are considered to be low quality content not meeting user needs.

Google’s recommendations can be fully applied to localise keywords. As the cornerstone for both organic traffic and paid online advertising, keywords have two main functions:

  • to ensure correct content indexing by search engines;
  • to encourage user actions with search results.

The closer is a keyword variation to a user’s search query, the higher are the chances that the search engine sees the content as relevant and puts in the first page of search results. Obviously, this means a user is more likely to click your link.

It’s impossible to achieve highly relevant search results if keywords are simply translated. Yes, they will still be relevant and meaningful for a user reading the content. But search engines have different criteria for relevancy.

1. Correct translation

Context is translators’ favourite word. And context is even more important for localising keywords as you should specify the exact word meaning.

How would you translate ‘slicer’, ‘imaging’ or ‘support’? And if I told you these were 3D related terms? When translating keywords, it is vital to explain what they mean in a given context, give links to the pages with the keywords or at least explain what the pages are about.

The translator should understand the tasks that have been set when creating a keyword list. In this case, they might be able to add other variants based on typical local search queries.

2. Keyword adaptation

Ideally, localised keywords should match actual search terms and queries. Depending on a country, region or target audience, these search queries can differ significantly from terms which have been translated directly.

After adaptation, you may get two synonyms in the target language instead of one source word or a long-tail keyword (phrase) if it correlates to terms online users enter when searching.

Next, the list of translated keywords is analysed for search engine relevance. Search term frequency and related variants are the main things to pay attention to. Based on analysis results, you then correct and amend the list.

Tools for keyword analysis:

Google Keyword Planner is the easiest option (requires a Google AdWords account).

Yandex’s Keyword Statistics and Serpstat are Russian online services targeted at the Russian-speaking segment of the web.

3. Testing and diagnostics

The first round of keyword testing takes place during the adaptation. For each keyword, all the above-mentioned tools offer an approximate number of search queries. Please note that does not mean you should neglect testing the final keywords variants in main search systems. This covers keywords both for content creation and social media posting.

Use the SEMrush Keyword Difficulty tool to check competition for the most important keywords. The index (from 1% to 100%) shows you how difficult it is to outperform your competitors for the planned keywords and keyphrases. A low-frequency long tail keyword has more chances of getting to the first search page when it matches the search term.

In search engines, the quality rating for each keyword depends not only on competitors. The relevance and quality of a corresponding landing page is another component. That means localised keywords should be highly relevant to the content of the landing page.

Anywhere else to use keywords?

Meta descriptions

The text summarising a page’s content in search results. Web surfers are more likely to click an offered link if they notice the keywords from their search queries (or closely related terms).

Note: Recently, Google announced that their search engine now supports meta descriptions up to 320 symbols long. Still, many prefer the good old fashioned 160-symbol metas, just to be on the safe side.

Headings

The first thing you notice when you examine search results is a page title or a heading. If a heading matches a keyword or a keyphrase, the search engine sees the content as relevant and shows it higher in search results. If a heading fails to describe the content accurately, the search engine gives fewer points to the page.

Note: A good heading is accurate, engaging and a bit provoking. It communicates the idea behind the target page in a clear and concise way.

URL address

Sometimes, page URLs are localised, too. For Russian language, it means transliteration. If you add a long-tail keyword to your URL, be careful not to make it too long (3 to 5 words max).

Note: According to Google, keywords in URLs do not have a strong impact on your SEO.

Alt tags

Search systems cannot ‘see’ images. Instead, they look for image descriptions in <alt> tags. During localisation, it is better to translate image descriptions and add keywords to them as it makes the page content more relevant to search terms containing matching and related keywords.

Note: An average image description should be not less than 3 to 4 words (250 symbols or more), with only one of them being the keyword.

“If you’re growing into an area that primarily speaks another language you’ll need to translate your site. And it’s probably best to have it done by a native speaker – rather than an automated translation service.

But simply translating content might not be enough. Words and phrases that work in an Italian market may not resonate with a French audience. Localisation is the process that makes locals feel like you “speak their language”.

It seems like a fair bit to think about…but there are many companies and freelancers out there who specialise in exactly this type of work.”

Google Digital Garage

More questions on keyword localisation? Feel free to send them to info @ just-translate.it.com

Translation Quality Style Guides

Translation Quality 101. Part 3

The whys and hows of a style guide

This is the third part of Translation Quality 101 series. Part 1. Source materials for translation. Part 2. Terminology management.

You may think that style guides describing language recommendations and stylistic nuances are for global companies and thriving publishing houses only. Want to think again?

Your translator will appreciate even a short and simple instruction especially if it is combined with a glossary and reference materials.

When the translator knows for sure what are the company’s preferred terms and style the task will be completed faster.

Please note that if carefully prepared and regularly updated, a style guide is a key to increasing the quality of translations and the effectiveness of published materials.

WHAT IS A STYLE GUIDE?

A style guide is a list of defined requirements—sometimes a very short one—that reflects the expectations and preferences of a translation customer.

To make your guide easier to use, consider a two-part structure. The first part could be regular and valid for all translation tasks, and the part second could be variable and project-related.

Feel free to include a brief description of your company, its products and services, main goals and tasks in the regular part. Other possible options are:

  • Target market (country, industry, competitors)
  • Language style: clear, academic, technical, etc.
  • Forbidden words and terms
  • Non-translated words and phrases
  • Non-standard abbreviations
  • Formatting and typography (fonts, phone numbers, etc.)

The changing part is valid for a current translation project only:

  • Document type: a promo leaflet, press release, website update, etc.
  • Target audience: age, social, occupation, etc.
  • Aim of the document: branding and image, customer information (for sales team, for marketing team, etc.)
  • Tone: formal, informal, neutral
  • In focus: information or style; close proximity to the original or adaptation for better engagement.

WHY A STYLE GUIDE?

Expectations and preferences approved beforehand help maintain the consistent tone and language improving the company’s image.

When presented with a style guide, the translator needs less time for research and reference reading, so the material is delivered quicker. Moreover, knowing the target audience (an ideal reader or website visitor), your translator will be able to choose proper style and language.

No extra round of inner corrections and approvals means further time savings for the customer.

When developing a style guide, pay special attention to the document structure. Nobody is going to use a guide if it is too complex or overloaded with information (even with the words ‘DON’T PANIC’ in large, friendly letters on the cover). Leave out rules and recommendations that are well-known to any professional translator or a linguist. If the document has many pages, consider adding a table of content with links.

WHO CREATES A STYLE GUIDE?

Too often translation customers underestimate the importance of clear instructions and rules. But a proper style guide can be created only through their intensive engagement. The customer is providing reference materials, notes, and information. Clearly, it’s up to the customer to define the desired audience and the message.

McLean’s Maxim: There are only two problems with people. One is that they don’t think. The other is that they do. There will be always someone (an employee or a subcontractor) who tries to ignore the style guide no matter how clear and simple it is. To keep such cases to an absolute minimum, (a) update your style guide consistently; (b) make it easily accessible to all interested stakeholders.

If no style guide is available, the translator and the reviewer can create a version of their own. It could be as simple as that:

Style Sheet Example

WHEN IS A STYLE GUIDE CREATED?

Data collection, style guide updates and edits should be handled by one person. For a light start, create a list of names, persons, titles, terms, abbreviations that are already present in the company’s documents. Common mistakes and translation-related questions can be added to the style guide later.

If you are a translator pondering over a style guide, the best time to create one is when you are starting your cooperation with a new customer. You can update the document when the customer sends you edits or comments explaining certain standards or undesirable terms.

Improvise! The introduction to the style guide by The Economist begins with six elementary rules formulated by George Orwell.

1 Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2 Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3 If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.
4 Never use the Passive where you can use the active.
5 Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a Jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6 Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

SOME USEFUL LINKS

– An open guide to preferred National Geographic style and usage: http://stylemanual.natgeo.com/

– Microsoft Style Guides: https://www.microsoft.com/Language/en-US/StyleGuides.aspx

– Facebook Language Style Guides in 72 languages: https://www.facebook.com/translations/style_guides

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.

Translation quality basics

Translation Quality 101

Part 1. Source materials for translation

During this year, I was reconsidering my translation workflows and procedures. The whole thing led to a series of posts on ensuring translation quality for my Russian blog.

Part 2. Terminology management. Part 3. Style guides.

Why do I have to care?

Demands related to translation quality will often vary even inside a company. People who work with translations need quality. People who pay translation invoices look for a bargain.

How can a company come to know that translations of its marketing materials are not up to the mark? The customers may say they are not. I wouldn’t call that situation a pleasant one, would you?

Customer service departments may act as another feedback channel. A poorly translated instruction may lead to more calls from end users. Besides, many companies tend to track user reaction. For them, social media, forums, and communities are a valuable information source.

Ways and methods to ensure translation quality have been summarised many times before. Look into terminology work, style guides, quality assurance software, translation memory usage.

But many customers completely ignore them to speed up the workflow or to ‘optimise costs’. To focus on technical issues paying less attention to the content is another extreme. For marketing materials, it’s unacceptable.

Can you guarantee a generally high quality of marketing translations? If yes, how do you ensure that? We’ll analyse the process step by step.

Pull up the quality of source materials

For a translated text to become an efficient part of a marketing campaign, one should take into consideration the audience and the scale, communication channels, campaign success criteria, etc.

But what’s the key factor? To my mind, it’s the quality of the texts planned for translation. To make an excellent product, the translator is to get an excellent material to work with. In translation, high-quality input is a prerequisite for high-quality output.

Some criteria of a high-quality (i.e. efficient) marketing text:

  • It engages. If a text does not evoke interest, why read it? Marketing materials failing to resonate with your audience fail to convert and sell, too. It’s true for both technical press releases and hot vacation offers. At the same time, consumer preferences tend to differ from ideas offered by marketing teams.
  • It’s created for people. A message for a target audience and a demographic market? Or an open communication with your reader? The less your materials resemble advertising, the more convincing they are.
  • It’s short. An average reader now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Get rid of informational noise and do not try to sell everything at once. Shape and trim extras, and you will see the results.
  • It’s simple. Strange as it may sound, choose shorter words and sentences to make people believe you are an expert. “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well… Everything should be as simple as it can be, yet no simpler.” Albert Einstein
  • It’s useful. Prepare a product review. Offer best practices for optimising workflows. Show great results that your client get. Stick to facts.
  • It’s realistic. Avoid picturing a perfect company offering perfect products. Add a couple of small issues to make the material more real-world-like.

When the original leaves much to be desired, please, notify your translator in advance. Agree on how to deal with possible issues and how far the translator can go in adapting the text.

If you are not happy with the material offered for translation, chances are your audience wouldn’t be thrilled, either. Perhaps, it’s better to find some roundabouts: adaptation, reference translation, creating content locally, etc.

Take the translator into account

Well-managed translation workflow resembles a faultless, well-oiled mechanism. The problem is one seldom considers translation while creating content.

According to a recent report, 48% of US marketers had no budget at all for translation abroad. 59% of respondent lacked money allocated for reaching multilingual customers within the US. And only 15% of marketers said they were confident that their messages were resonating with international customers.

Long, intricate sentences, idioms and jargon are a good touch to a novel, but not to a news release. Add clichés to them, and your checklist of surefire translation killers is ready.

Misprints, vague phrases, inconsistent terms mean potential mistakes in future translations. Prepare for the second cycle of editing and proofreading (with additional time and budget).

If you plan to translate your marketing content, remember the following.

  • Stay away from abbreviations and jargon where possible
  • Make your writing clear and concise
  • Avoid ambiguity
  • Think globally as each language and culture have their own peculiarities

Track and provide feedback

The marketing translator is no less than a co-author of your materials. A text, which is clear, though poorly written, may be improved, but it takes time and effort.

Were the marketing tasks addressed efficiently before the translation took place? And after the translation? Sometimes, the analysis of a source text shows that the translator made their best. A perfect localised material is a teamwork result.

In case you doubt the translation quality, find an expert for a review and assessment.

  • Do not choose the translator of the text as a reviewer
  • Do not tell the reviewer who made the translation. What you need is an open-minded approach
  • Look into the translation workflow. Perhaps, it’s a failure of a supervising manager and not of a translator

Have you tried to get through with a tight budget and got an unacceptable result? Analyse and draw your conclusions.

Marketing texts, image collaterals, and legal documents are to be translated by experts. Otherwise, losses can be far greater than gains.