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What Is Content Localization? Insights on SEO Translation

International SEO calls on marketers to localize their content for a specific country. Independent of language, the process involves tailoring content to a specific culture. UK users, for example, will find ecommerce sites that display currencies in pounds and use terms that they are familiar with to be the most helpful.

Localization, therefore, can be done within a specific language. While you may have two sites in Spanish, one may be focused on Mexico and the other on Spain. Often, this content may be a near-duplicate (to save time, in which case a hreflang tag will help you avoid duplicate content issues).

Localization is, however, a part of the translation process. It goes hand-in-hand with SEO translation when you’re not only localizing content for a specific culture, but also for a specific language.

Translating Cultural Expressions and Terms into Your Target Language

Before we go on, I would like to express the importance of hiring a native-speaking translator. When localizing content, you are doing so for the user. When writing content that is to be localized, the writer should do it in a manner that is most natural to them. This text can then be worked on later (if you’re localizing for the same language).

This localized content can be targeted towards a specific country. For example…

  • If you have an English text that you would like to translate and localize into Dutch, you can change some of the terms. These include things like currency, names of cities/regions, i.e. everything that will ensure it makes sense within a Dutch cultural context. It of course depends on the text (if it is very general, you probably won’t have to do much).
  • The keywords are also important (which I shall detail later). Make sure you do your keyword research in your target language(so, in my case, Dutch).
  • You then simply translate the text. For most people, this means sending it on to a translator.
We paid our Dutch translator in tulips (not really).

SEO Translation: Tips and Things to Keep in Mind

For the most part, translators are not SEOs (some are, though). So, while you have the power of a native speaker who can bring your message across expertly in their own language, you still need to detail the specifics of what you want.

The first thing I would therefore like to address is keyword research. Keyword research, especially in a language you probably aren’t even familiar with, may sound scary. Don’t worry, however: you only need to understand the terms that appear in the search engines, because that’s what people are looking for. You can use a dictionary to get a general gist of the “lingo” that is used. Keyword research in another language is a process that goes beyond the scope of this post, so take a look at this resource.

google translate
Don’t ever use this to translate. EVER.

Once you’ve got the foreign language keywords you want to use in your text, it is important to structure them. If you have some familiarity with the language (or are perhaps fluent in it but don’t trust yourself to write quality content), you can dictate to the translator where the keyword should appear.

But what if you’ve no clue? Well, the best trick I found was to simply put the keyword at the end of the sentence it ought to appear in. Write a note to the translator and tell them to use the keyword where it makes sense grammatically. This is the glorious marriage of optimization for both users and search engines (not a very exciting wedding, I’ll admit).

IMPORTANT: When doing keyword research in a different language, stick to primary keywords. Unless you know the language really, really, really damn well. Secondary keywords will come naturally to the translator. When preparing texts for translation into Dutch, I avoided secondary Dutch keywords like the plague. It was different when doing it in German since I am fluent in the language, but this is an exceptional case.

A lot of people tend to balk at the idea of dealing with another language. Yes, it is a challenge however if you want to your business to go global you need to suck it up and dive right in. You should also consider investing in the services of a translator. Alternatively, of course, you could just hire a SEO who is fluent or (ideally) native in that language.

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