Seo Localisation for European Languages: best practise

by oskarokupa on November 10, 2008

When we want to initiate a European SEO campaign for the most popular languages, FIGS (French, Italian, German and Spanish) we very often encounter the downside of faulty translations which don’t take into account average search volume of the keywords translated or use a language that, although correct, doesn’t engage Internet users in the respective countries. This is normally due to a lack of work on localisation, or try to adapt the original English copy to the cultural and colloquial nuances of the different markets.

To avoid this issue, the translator needs to have a thorough knowledge of SEO and use a number of techniques in order to make the copy SEO worthy. Here are some tips and examples anybody can use to make the process much easier.

In order to carry out a smooth process of website localisation we need to have the following elements in place:

  • Local Keyword research. Unlike with English, there are not very good commercial keywords tools that give reasonable reliable figures. For languages other than English is much better to use Google Keyword Tool where you can narrow down terms by Language/Country.
  • Target Phrase Selection. Spreadsheet where you will include the list of the keyphrases to target for a specific page in the respective language. This document will be used as a point of reference while localising the content. The average number of keywords is 2 / 3.
  • Original English content
  • Fluency in reading and writing in both English and the language targeted

Website localisation best practise

  1. English content.
  2. Read the English content attentively.

  3. First translation
  4. The translation will have to use natural/conversational language trying to intersperse the main keywords selected in the Target Phrase Selection at least twice a two word keywords and once 3 word + keywords. Optimising for more than 3 keyphrases is complex unless the content of the page is very extensive. That doesn’t mean we can’t use secondary relevant terms. We should have along with the keyword list to target semantically related terms to the ones targeted. Use the Keyword research to find related terms to the main ones that actually have search volume ( real people search for them). The title of the page will be the point of reference to assess the main keywords we want to optimise for.


    English version

    “How to… “ guides

    I need to connect several computers to the Internet

    View guide

    My wireless network does not cover my whole house

    View guide

    View all

    Spanish version

    Guías de cómo:

    Conectar varios ordenadores a internet

    Ver guía

    Mi red inalambrica no cubre toda mi casa

    Ver guía

  5. Use headers
  6. A keyword in Headers gives more weight in terms of relevancy than a keyword in content. It is therefore recommended to try harder to include keywords in the headings.

    English version

    Extended range with no dead spots:

    Embrace Wireless N, the Wi-Fi technology that keeps its promises

    Visit our microsite >

    Spanish version

    Rango inalámbrico extendido sin puntos muertos:

    Adaptate con Wireless N, la tecnología inalámbrica que cumple sus promesas.

  7. Keywords review
  8. Concepts such as keyword density have been controversial in the past. My take on this is that by targeting only one to three keywords per 250-word page and making sure the terms or phrases appear in the beginning, middle and end of the body copy, your specific density is not much of an issue anymore.
    Once the first translated version is done review once again the target phrase selected. Using ctrl F in word for example is a good way to find them easily and count the keywords in the translated document.If one or several of the keywords do not appear at all review the content and try to include the missing keywords. If you feel that it would damage the user friendliness of the page we should have a number of related phrases ready in the keyword research to be able to cover a wide range of translation needs.


Targeted Keyphrases

compartir banda ancha configuracion inalambrica router inalambrico n rango inalambrico extendido

Spanish version with targeted keywords

Compartir banda ancha: Conectar varios ordenadores a internet

Ver guía

Extender rango inalambrico en toda mi casa

Ver guía

A Spanish native speaker will get the same message from this translation but additionally we have added two of the keyphrases within the first two sentences. We have added the terms Compartir banda ancha in the first sentence what is directly related, and rephrased the second sentence by using a grammatical variant of the third keyphrase (rango inalambrico extendido – extender rango inalámbrico)

Tips & Warnings

  • The final version should feel natural and engaging for the end user.
  • Remember to keep your target audience in mind when editing. In other words do not use language that will not be readily understood by your potential prospects.
  • Don’t be afraid of thinking out of the box. Creativity is essential for localising.
  • Follow SEO friendly content guidelines but don’t get obsessed about them. Search engines understand linguistic semantics so if a targeted keyword does not fit naturally a variation may be used.

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