The primary step to availing your website’s services internationally is translating your content into the respective international languages. While automated translations services have recently been adopted as the preferred method, there has always been a concern that the output is never search engine-friendly compared to manual translations. SEO is one of the key factors that will determine your website’s success in an international audience. Consequently, it is imperative that you get it right.
Recent developments in machine translation software services (SaaS), coupled with search engine guidelines (such as Google), permit you to configure SEO in your website while using an automated translation services. Additionally, translation editing as a feature has also been a useful addition in ensuring a website is search engine-friendly.
All of this is available in Linguise; a well-crafted neural network translation service. In this article, we will present a guideline on how you can configure your website to be search engine optimized while using an automated translation service, and how Linguise enables you to do so.
Why is SEO important for your Website?
Search engines play an important role in referring customers to your website and this is commonly referred to as organic traffic when it happens free-of-charge. You need to be ranked highly by search engines. To ensure you’re ranked highly in an international region, you need to inform search engines of the existence of international pages of your website and when to display them. You also need to avail your services in the customers’ localized (native) languages. According to a study conducted by Alexika, 65% of customers prefer products in their native languages.
Google has a set of guidelines that can help you optimize your websites for a high search engine ranking in an international region. So, let’s have a look at what you should do (according to Google) to ensure your website is search engine optimized, while using an automated translation service.
How can you perform in multilingual SEO while using an automatic translation service?
In case you were wondering, yes, it is possible to perform in SEO while having multilingual pages in your website. Holdersing.com is a perfect example of a website with multilingual pages utilizing Linguise as the translation service and performing well in SEO in different regions.
The website generates most of its traffic via organic search.
Adhere to Google’s basics
Google is the most popular search engine boasting an impressive 86% of the market share according to Statcounter globalstats. With that in mind, Google has a basic set of guidelines of how to keep your website search engine friendly when you expand to new languages or country based language variations.
We can summarize this in a single statement: You need to tell Google that you have multiple versions of a page in different languages for different regions. How do you do this?
You can inform Google that you have international versions for your pages in the:
- HTML head element
- HTTP header
- Sitemaps (XML).
How do you generate alternative URLs for different regions/languages?
The rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” is a very useful tag attribute which indicates that, a given page has a relationship to an alternate language version at a specified URL. It is a signal, not a directive. This attribute can be implemented in each of the above (HTML, HTTP, and sitemaps), depending on the size of your website and the number of regions you want to target.
If you have a smaller website and want to target a small number of international regions, it is advisable to use the HTML head element to implement rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x”. Here you will create subdomains for language and regional variations.
For non-HTML documents, use the HTTP header and for large sites targeting numerous countries, you should use sitemaps.
rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” permits you to target customers speaking the different language variations in the same or different regions, for example English in US and UK or French in France or Canada. There is a set of designated language and regional codes for which you include inside this attribute.
What if the user’s browser settings do not match with any language/region?
Here you still use hreflang but replace the language code with “x-default” such that it becomes hreflang=”x-default”. Despite being optional, it is highly recommended so that you can control the pages that are displayed when the languages don’t match.
When implemented correctly, rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” lists all corresponding URLs for each page, making it difficult for an outsider to join as an alternative language version of your site. There are many more guidelines on error-free hreflang implementation on Google Search Central.
How do you handle duplicative URLs?
Whenever you have specify rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x”, remember to include canonical URLs. Canonical URLs are representatives of duplicate pages on your website, like a master copy for your pages. Including canonical URLs prevent the problem of having duplicated content appear on multiple URLs.
Disclaimer: It is important to translate all parts of your website, including those that are usually overlooked such as the checkout page.
Set up the correct URL structure
You should deploy alternative web structures of either:
- New ccTLDs that geo-locate to the respective countries by default or
- Your gTLD with subdomains or subdirectories that can be registered via Google Search Console to geo-locate your content where it is intended.
When should you use a new ccTLD?
Only acquire a new ccTLD if:
- Your top competitors in the target market are also using ccTLDs and
- Their popularity or authority is low.
When the popularity of you competitors using ccTLDs is low, acquiring a ccTLD gives you a chance to compete with them. You should only use ccTLDs under the above circumstances because:
- It is expensive to maintain,
- You divide your authority across multiple domains,
- The rankings tend to be low initially, and
- You may require more resources to localize your content.
When should you use a subdirectories or subdomains within a gTLD?
If your competitors in the new market are currently using ccTLDs and they are very popular with the audience, using a new ccTLD will push you low in the ranking. In this case opt for geo-localized subdirectories in your current gTLD. If you can’t do this, acquire a new gTLD and use subdomains in it. This URL structure has the potential to generate a lot of traffic for a multilingual site. Here is data on Holdersing.com who use it.
How do you handle titles and phrases?
A large quantity of traffic with a high bounce rate is utterly useless to you. You want to make sure that you’re always attracting quality traffic with a high conversion rate. One of the ways you do this is by optimizing your titles for search engines.
The recommended length for title tags is 50-60 characters. If you’re selling products, attempt to include a keyword that describes your product. This serves to filter out irrelevant traffic. However, if you’re running a blog, you might want to consider long-tail key words. You can also use WP Meta SEO to optimize your titles.
Having looked at what you need to do to perform in SEO, let’s see how Linguise is a far much better option than manual translation and how this service enables you to perform in multilingual SEO.
Linguise vs Manual translation
Linguise, being a neural network translation service, is superior to human translation in almost every way. Human translation takes a significantly longer period and costs more per unit of work compared to neural network translation. It also produces a result of much lower quality. Here is a short comparison of the two, within the relevant parameters.
Linguise allows revision and management of translated content, thereby retaining a good quality from human translation. We’ll get into this later.
How does Linguise ensure you perform in multilingual SEO?
- Translating XML Sitemaps
Linguise uses your XML sitemaps to inform search engines of the URLs designated for specific languages or regions. Conventionally, this process is tedious. It involves using the <loc> element to specify URLs, accompanied with an xhtml:link in every language/region variant. This process can get hectic quickly when your website has numerous pages or when you intend to target numerous regions.
With Linguise, however, the process has been extremely simplified. All you have to do is copy the original URL and add the language-region code (or simply the language) and the software will take care of the rest.
The new pages generated are fully translated; they are real pages with their own URLs. For translation errors and content localization, Linguise provides you with an easy-to-use platform to make these changes.
- Front-end translation editing for content localization and quality enhancement
Machine translation is never 100% perfect. It could make errors on things like puns, technical terms, cultural references, etc. Alternatively, it may miss to translate some sections of pages, for example customer details on the checkout page.
Additionally, machine translations usually produce conventional versions of the translated languages. Customers may not necessarily search for products in these versions of languages. This severely cuts down your website’s organic traffic.
This is why translation editing is so important, and Linguise lets you do this from the front-end!
Using the Live Editor feature, you can edit your translations live as the changes reflect instantly. For the languages you don’t speak, this service permits you to invite experts to edit your content while managing their access to your languages.
All you have to do is go to the member’s tab on your Linguise dashboard and add the email addresses of those you wish to invite. You are also required to define their access roles alongside the languages they will be handling, for example manager or translator. Managers have access to multiple languages while translators are limited to a single one.
Translation editing will permit you to integrate the key search terms that customers in the international regions prefer, consequently optimizing your multilingual SEO.
- Linguise can handle inline HTML content
Automated translations systems including Browser translation services find it difficult to accurately translate inline HTML elements and CSS code because, this code is split into different components which are assembled differently across different languages.
A special system customized for each language to articulate these parts correctly is required. Linguise has this kind of system, a customized system designed to accurately translate HTML inline content alongside any other metadata on your website that are relevant for SEO. Linguise has special rules to handle HTML inline content to raise the quality of your translations. All of this is automated as soon as you set up Linguise on WordPress.
Linguise is well crafted to handle all that you need when expanding to different regions or languages. Although manual translations are good for content localization for SEO, the cost and time implications are just too much. Linguise on the other hand, partners with you to ensure your content is search engine friendly, at a far much lower cost and in much less time. In this way, your website will attract as much organic traffic as possible. It seamlessly integrates with WordPress while being theme/plugin agnostic. So if you want to perform in SEO without having to go through the complicated processes, sign up and start translating.