Improve Your Global SEO through Human Translation

Nataly Kelly, VP of Marketing, Smartling

Creating high-quality content in one language is challenging enough, but today, many businesses need to create content in multiple languages in order to reach their global customers online. How can you ensure the best possible translation quality, so that your company appears favorably in search results to customers all over the world?

Here are some important tips for boosting your global SEO by working with professional human translation providers:

Recognize that automatic translation causes you to incur penalties.Google penalizes auto-generated content, and in fact, Google does not use its own free online translation tool to translate its corporate content. Instead, it relies on professional human translators. Google can instantly recognize content that was created by its own machine translation tool, and it flags it as content that has a lower quality level than content created by humans.

Remember that your visitors are humans, after all.You probably wouldn’t want to read a website in your language that was auto-generated.  Neither do your international visitors. The reason Google penalizes computer-generated translation is that it tries to predict which sites users will actually enjoy visiting and find useful. Machine translation is generally not at the level of quality as human work.

Give translators visual context for what they are translating.The word “run” in English has a minimum of 50 different translations in Spanish, depending on the context of the rest of the sentence. Content will often “expand” in the translation process too. Provide your translation vendors with an in-context view, so that they can actually see your Web pages while they are translating. This helps them determine the impact of their language selections on the overall page layout, enabling them to make the best choices from the start.

Make sure your translators use a glossary and style guide.If you truly want to improve your content quality in order to gain a global SEO boost, an easy way to do so is to help translators provide a better-quality translation from the start. Translation management technology can ensure style guide and glossary compliance by automatically prompting translators to use the appropriate and approved terminology, each and every time they are translating it.

Don’t try to cut corners on international keywords.If you run your keywords through an automatic tool, they become nonsensical or useless for indexing purposes. Make sure to use human professionals, who will not only provide the best translations, but who will tell you if a particular keyword just doesn’t work for a particular market. They can suggest other options that are more appropriate for local audiences.

Ensure that your URLs are localized too.Whenever a keyword-rich URL string is localized into the appropriate language, it obtains a higher level of relevancy for search engines. However, if you just translate the keywords in a URL, these may not be relevant for a given language or market. Instead, have translators help you come up with localized equivalents for the URLs.

Consider “transcreation” for the highest quality of all.For some of the content on your website, you may want to consider moving beyond translation and working with providers that offer transcreation, which is more than just regular translation. Transcreation usually involves working with in-language copywriters, who may or may not also work as translators.

And of course, remember to place your language and country options in a visible location.If you want to boost time on site, make sure your international traffic isn’t cut off right from the start. Provide visitors with language options that are clearly labeled and ideally placed in the upper right-hand corner for all markets where a language is used that reads from left to right, so that they can easily browse to the right content for their country and in their language.

Translation quality is important for all companies that seek to obtain the best possible SEO not just for their home market, but to rank better overall. If you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to taking your global content quality to the next level.

Nataly Kelly is vice president of marketing at Smartling, a fast-growing provider of cloud-based translation and localization technology that helps companies reach global markets faster and easier than ever before.