SEO translations – Retro Digital’s SEO tips for freelance translators
Being a freelance translator isn’t easy. We know – we’ve been there, it’s actually how we started off in the industry. Freelancers are constantly under pressure to move with the times. For example with CAT tools, machine translation, or just all things skills-related. Now we’re reaching an age where we’ve got to specialize. And standard marketing translations/localization simply isn’t cutting it. When clients get their websites translated, they want to be found. What they often don’t realize is just how hard it is to localize a website, let alone without throwing SEO into the mix. So, that’s why we’ve come up with some tips based on what other translators have told us what they wished they’d known when they took on the world of SEO translations.
What goes into SEO translations?
When translating SEO content, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider. Do you have your keywords ready? And are you familiar with the way SEO texts are written? If you have your keywords ready, that’s half the battle over. If not, we’ll talk you through everything below!
If you don’t have your keywords ready, this is the place to start. Your clients should give you a list of keywords in the source language. As people search differently in different cultures, you’ll have to think outside the box a bit and think how people in your country will search for these words/terms. Once you’ve done that you’ll transcreate them into your language. If there are a few options when it comes to ways of translating them, give your clients more option than one. They have special tools (e.g. MOZ, Google Keyword Planner…) to check how often people search for certain keywords, so they’ll make a choice based on which version you’ve given them is more popular.
Think of your audience
You need to put your audience first. And that means making the translations natural (sorry if we’re stating the obvious!). Transcreation is going to be needed to make sure you don’t end up with a literal translation. You’ll also need to make sure that you represent the brand, so getting the tone and voice they use is of paramount importance. Getting a style guide can be a great help – and you can get brownie points with your clients by suggesting things for their style guide in your native language (e.g. cultural quirks to be aware of).
It’s important that you use the keywords in the text enough. But that doesn’t mean overloading the text with them because that’s when something called keyword stuffing happens. This is when you have so many keywords on the page that Google penalizes you for being spammy. As there’s no magic formula for how many keywords you should be using, a good way to check if you’ve got the right amount is by reading the text aloud. If the text flows, sounds natural, and you remember the keywords, you’re doing well. If you sound like a robot whose text sounds like the keywords have been thrown in there for the sake of it, you’ve gone OTT.
Good SEO texts contain headers. Make sure you use the keyword or close variations of the keyword in each title so that the search engine knows what text is coming next. You might hear the term H1…, which is a way of ranking the importance of the header. H1 is the most important and H6 is the least, and they are used to break up the text. All texts need to have a H1 and a couple of H2 to H3s, all containing the keywords and something catchy.
This needs to be catchy as it’s what entices potential customers to click on the page when they’re making a search. When translating it, you need to be aware that it needs to be under 155 characters long.
This is the title of the page and defines what the page is about. Each page needs a unique title and it needs to be under 55 characters long.
All URLs need to be translated and should contain the keyword. Just be careful it’s not too long.
Search engines can’t crawl pictures, so to understand what the picture is, webmasters use what is called an alt tag to tell Google what’s in the picture. That’s why you need to translate the alt tag so that it matches the language the page is in and should contain keywords too.
All SEO texts need inbound and outbound links. Inbound links are ones that link to other pages of the website, like the contact us page. Outbound links link to someone else’s website e.g. a good page that contains translation terminology terms that you’d like to share with your reader. You need to translate the anchor text (this is the hyperlink). The anchor text should not say things like “click here”, but should mention what the page it’s linking to is about e.g. we’ve found this useful list of the latest of translation terminology to take a look at. Here you’d make sure you use latest translation terminology as your link.
Length of the text in the target language
If you’re not sure of a way to phrase a certain sentence, feel free to use the longer version. SEO texts need to be a minimum over 300 words (500-600 is ideal, and 1000 words are perfect if you have a text that your client wants to reuse).
We want to hear from you!
We hope we’ve helped you shed a light on the world of SEO from a freelance translator’s point of view. Although it sounds a bit scary, it really isn’t. All you need is a passion for languages, a bit of creativity, and a willingness to keep up with the latest trends. That’s because SEO has a habit of changing a bit.
If you’d like to learn more, or are looking for advice for how to get into SEO more, get in touch. We’re always happy to pass on our passion for marketing to like-minded people. We’re also always on the lookout for freelancers who’d like to make a difference helping our clients expand into new markets.