When debating whether to translate your website into various languages, the same question arises again and again. How will this affect my search engine results?
First and foremost, people are afraid of generating “duplicate content” by translating their website content. Thanks to the fact that search engine technology is where it is at now, this is no longer an issue. It is although common practice to place code onto your page identifying the language at hand. Search engines nowadays will normally not penalize you for having a multilingual website.
In an ideal world, it would be best not to translate at all and instead create localized content for each and every language independently. This includes the creation of Meta elements and page descriptions. In other words, this would entail actually having someone from Japan create the Japanese version of your website and having someone from Spain make the Spanish version. Unfortunately, the costs and effort involved with this outweigh the benefit in most cases. Therefore, most people opt for translating their website content. There are of course a few things to keep in mind when doing this if you want to do a good job and save money in the process.
If you have texts that have been optimized for search engines with key words in your text, you will want to ensure the following before handing over your text to a language service provider (LSP):
- Let the LSP know that you are translating text that has taken SEO into consideration. If they know it is an SEO text content for a website, they will also translate it as such. In fact, give them a list of the keywords, or Meta elements (Meta tags) that are in the text and let them translate these and use them to compile a terminology list for the page content.
- Before getting anything translated, make sure that the content management system (CMS) you are using and your domain support Unicode text for displaying different foreign language characters. Imagine how horrible it would be to spend all of the time, effort and money on something that won’t even display properly at your website.
- You want to talk to an SEO expert on how to manage the language(s). There is either a language app in your CMS or, in the case of HTML, you may want to create a sub-domain or several different ones for the foreign language content.
- Make sure to get information on legislation in the target country as to ensure that there is nothing in the website that might be considered illegal or offensive and make sure that you adapt the content to this while taking the regulations that are applicable in your home country into consideration at the same time.
- Make sure you specify character length limits concerning the translation of descriptions and Meta elements as this is an important SEO factor. Using CAT tools, this is an easy thing to keep track of for a translator. They just have to know before translation begins.
This also brings light to the fact that you will want to decide on how you would like the translation delivered. It is always best to extract the text for translation yourself. It is only in this way that can you ensure the translation of only that which needs to be translated. Current events or job postings on the website that will be obsolete within a month for instance will not need to be translated. Some CMS have an export/import function for translation purposes and in the case of HTML, remember that the translator can translate HTML directly for you if that is easier. This is never associated with additional costs. The important thing is that you receive a text that you are able to use in order to save costs on having someone add the content to the website for you. It is for this reason that some clients find it easier to deal with bilingual Excel files so they can see the source and the target language for adding the translated text to the website. For example, in the case of Chinese, this is always necessary due to the lack of text recognition between the two languages. In many cases, your language service provider will certainly be able to offer you the service of adding the texts to your website as well. No matter what you decide, the important thing is that you are happy with the result. By the way, make sure to arrange to have a translator look over the final website once all has been added to ensure that everything has been put into the right spot with proper line breaks, etc.
After everything is done and your new multi-language website goes live, it should be picked up by major websites crawlers, although this may take some time. Be sure to inquire if there are additional search engines in the target country that might be worth submitting your site to.
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