Good localization is just good SEO.
Because having your content translated and localized specifically for your target market definitely helps that target audience find your content in the organic search results.
And when they land on the page, localization helps them to understand your products and the services and to take the actions you hope they’ll take.
Poorly translated content (i.e., content that wasn’t created for the local audience’s best interest) is more likely to struggle to have good visibility in the organic search results.
Localization projects can be expensive.
However, consider the alternative: a cheap, poorly translated website.
The results would be terrible – not just for SEO, but for the future of your business in that market.
Using the Right Word Matters
Any local keyword research should always be conducted as the first step of the localization project.
Using the right word during the localization process will help you connect with the local audience better, which will impact the business’s success in those markets.
The “right” word doesn’t mean that it is the word with the most search volume.
It means that it is the word most commonly used in the local market by the target audience for the type of industry your business is in.
The word “analytics,” can be translated as “解析” or “アナレティックス.” Both are correct Japanese translations.
Let’s say you are trying to gain subscriptions for your analytics tool in Japan.
The audiences in the analytics industry will not have any problems with either of the words.
However, if you are going after small-mid sized business owners, especially someone older, they may never search using the word [アナレティックス] as their search query and will not find your content when they search for a tool.
Challenges Many Foreign Website Owners Experience
Just because a person is a native speaker does not mean he/she can write professionally in the local language.
Not everyone has good writing skills.
Adding the translation skill makes it difficult to find the right person for the job.
Some people use translation software to do the job when they are asked to translate the content (this happens more often than you might think).
Many companies choose to use in-house talent. It makes sense as they often have a better understanding of the content.
The issue, though, still remains – he/she may not be a good writer.
From an SEO standpoint, it is a concern that neither the translator nor the in-house staff has an understanding of SEO.
Especially when a person is skillful about the writing and gets very creative on the localization work, the sentences get to be completely re-written, which may go against the content optimization best practices.
Generally, the translation project is held independently.
The SEO and other teams rarely get to provide the necessary input to create optimized content using the right keywords. Some companies have an in-house team to review and edit the content translated by an outside agency.
If a company cares about optimizing the content, that is usually when the content optimization happens, with quick keyword research by the local team.
While it could take a longer time for the content to be finally published on the local site, this is probably a more reasonable process for many businesses.
Local Content Maintenance
Unfortunately, another common challenge is maintaining local content.
Once the content is initially translated and localized with some keyword research, it is usually left as is and never updated – even though the content is always refreshed and new pages are added on a parent site.
The interests and queries of searchers can change surprisingly quickly, and the word on the site and even the content itself could become outdated.
The shift could come quickly and suddenly, even to some traditional businesses (as many learned during the COVID-19 pandemic).
Local businesses that adapt to such changes immediately can then update existing content or add new content to the site.
That is one of the biggest challenges for foreign businesses to stay competitive in other markets.
Tips for Keyword Research & Content Localization Success
1. Create a Translation/Localization Process Incorporating Keyword Research & SEO
While SEO should not be the job of translators or content editors, having some SEO understanding makes it easier to launch local sites that perform well.
Create SEO guidelines for them to follow.
2. Always Monitor Website Performance
Once you launch the local site, monitor the performance.
Solve issues quickly as you identify them.
If the pages don’t rank well, review the content optimization.
If the pages rank well but don’t get much traffic or conversions, review the translation/message and user experience points.
Be sure to test the form, and other conversion points are functioning correctly in the local market in the local language.
3. Talk to Local Team & Contact Points
Through ongoing communication with the local team and other contact points, including sales reps, find out if they have noticed any changes in the local interests.
Ask them if the content on the site needs to be updated or changed. They may have seen the local competitors’ recent activities.
Encourage them to provide such feedback that may help grow the business in their market.
It’s critical to effectively integrate localization, SEO, and content creation into a coordinated workflow.
The quicker this happens, the sooner you can realize greater efficiency and performance.
This collaborative process will enable the entire business to understand the needs and wants of consumers – improving product innovation, content engagement, and conversion.
Featured image credit: Paulo Bobita/SearchEngineJournal