Every company wants its website to achieve the highest possible ranking on search engines like Google. After all, the higher the Google ranking, the better. This also applies to foreign language websites for companies involved in international business transactions. Over the last few years, this field has changed dramatically. In the past, the primary goal of any internationalization project was the translation of a website from one language to another, while the focus thereby was and still is on being familiar with the other culture and to incorporate this valuable knowledge into the translation. In the meantime, the industry has evolved from merely offering classic translation services to effectively positioning foreign language websites for search engines on local target markets.
However, just how search engine optimization (SEO) works in other countries, is truly a science in itself. Udo Leinhäuser, SEO expert for language specialist Leinhäuser Language Services GmbH, explains: “The website can only be successfully equipped for an international audience if you are well-versed in the foreign market’s language and the search engine optimization is tailored accordingly.”
Don’t just translate keywords
The company is an expert in internationalization and has created its own processes designed especially for website translations. According to Leinhäuser’s experience, German companies have usually already established keywords for the German website; however, directly translating these into a foreign language doesn’t really make sense. “Foreign markets function differently, which is why you can’t just translate the keywords,” notes Leinhäuser. Details such as whether the keyword should be in singular or plural form often play a decisive role when it comes to search engines. “Therefore, a keyword analysis should be conducted for all of the target languages offered on the website.”
At Leinhäuser Language Services, a special service called “International SEO” was developed based on the experience with translations and the localization of websites in other languages. This service is the next step following a professional translation and is geared towards optimizing foreign language websites using metatags and keywords, specifically for the purpose of making them easier to find for local search engines, which in turn increases the overall ranking.
What is an SEO translation?
While some customers even request an “SEO translation”, the term can be misleading. “Actually, there’s no such thing as an SEO translation,” says Leinhäuser. “The topic of international SEO is ultimately a matter of translating the website and incorporating SEO components.” Normal translation processes are not the right approach to such cases, since the specialized knowledge pertaining to search engine optimization currently resides with experts from the fields of online marketing or content marketing. However, without specific foreign language expertise, there are severe limitations as to what online specialists can accomplish. This especially applies to languages other than English.
In order to fill the gap, Udo Leinhäuser has trained translators and editors at the translation company in the field of search engine optimization and SEO copywriting. Leinhäuser himself is a translator as well as an expert in online marketing, with a passion for SEO. He advises multilingual SEO projects for customers from Leinhäuser Language Services. According to Leinhäuser, the correct term for this line of work is multilingual SEO or iSEO; in this case the “i” stands for “international”.
Five steps to an international SEO website
The following tried-and-true process was developed by Leinhäuser Language Services specifically for the translation of multilingual websites that are optimized for search engines:
1. In the first step, the keyword terminology for the source language is extracted from the website, if this has not already been done before. This includes the identification of specialized terminology and corporate language.
2. To transfer the website into the other language, the terminology is translated and then approved by the customer.
3. Thereafter, a keyword analysis for the respective foreign language is compiled and then also approved by the customer.
4. The fourth step is the translation of the website. For this, Leinhäuser offers translators and editors who translate in their own native language and are experienced in creating the appropriate content and metatags specifically for websites.
5. The fine-tuning includes the creation of a WDF*IDF analysis for the purpose of examining if and how high the keywords from the foreign language website are ranked among search engines. The results from the analysis are then incorporated into the website by native speakers. The final version of metatags with titles, meta descriptions and keywords is then created.
Food for thought: It is necessary to optimize keywords for the respective target market. In other words, an English-language website with the target group in North America requires different keywords than a website in England, Ireland or Scotland.
1. Google tutorial for internationalization:
2. Explanation of WDF*IDF analysis:
3. Checklist from moz.com:
About Udo Leinhäuser
Udo Leinhäuser has a degree in translation and works as an online marketing and search engine optimization expert for Leinhäuser Language Services. He was a managing partner of the translation company until the end of 2012 and since then it has been managed by Heike Leinhäuser, the other acting partner. Udo Leinhäuser currently works as an independent consultant in the translation industry for various customers. In addition, he is a part-time author and editor of guide books for private pilots. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.