A Guest Post by Miguel Bratos
Having a website translated properly is a difficult task. In this article, I want to discuss the process of translating a site while keeping its SEO power.
Step 1: Hire a Good Translator
First, you need to find a reliable translator or agency to do the work. As a Spanish proofreader, I have broad experience with English-to-Spanish translation mistakes, and I can tell you that the main issue is not vocabulary, but grammar.
Spanish and English have very different structures; for example, passive voice sentences in English are usually translated as passive in Spanish, when the most natural way would be to translate them as reflexive sentences with the impersonal “se.” Most people know someone that speaks Spanish or even a native Spanish speaker, but, believe me, you need a real translator. A Spanish native speaker might be an accountant, a plumber, or a real estate agent; but all these people are not professional writers.
Step 2: Do a Keyword Research
Once you have a translator, you need to do a keyword research exactly the same way as when you planned your site. If you rely on the translator to just translate keywords, he might choose translations that are perfectly fine in terms of language but are not good for search engines.
My point is that you need someone native to do the keyword research. Maybe your translator can do it, but make sure that the translator is very knowledgeable about SEO and keyword research. If not, hire a native SEO specialist for this small part of the project.
Step 3: Make Your URL structure
With the keywords in the target language, you can compare them to the original site. For SEO, we usually use one main keyword per page. Instead of translating your existing URLs, try to assign each keyword from your keyword research to each URL for the new language pages.
As a result, the structure of your site in the target language may be slightly different than in the original. That is not actually a problem because you have to adapt the site to the market when you translate.
There may be a few cases in which the new keywords won’t fit with your old URLs. In this case, you may be interested in a content copywriting service instead of a translator.
Step 4: Get it Translated but Advise About Keywords
Now you should have a clear idea about all the pages that you want to translate and the keywords you want to use. Depending on how big your site is, you can provide the translator with a scheme in Excel, or you can just put the new URL and the target keyword somewhere on each page to translate. It is important for the translator to know that he has to use that specific keyword several times.
Extra tip: Be Careful With Translation Plugins
Plugins are a great way to improve efficiency, but you do not want fast work. You want good work.
If the translator is going to use a plugin, make sure that the speed allowed by the plugin won’t interfere with keyword planning and its use. Sometimes, it is better to have the translations in files and have them uploaded by someone you trust in terms of SEO instead of having the translator do it.
You may think agencies are a better option than a translator because they will have different workers for each task. That may be true, but find out before hiring them. Some agencies just have native speakers as translators and SEO experts from countries where labor is cheap. They may be very good workers, but not natives in the target language.
If you want quality, having native speakers working on your site is a must.