In this blog post, we will explain to you why keyword localisation is an essential part of any translation of any website if you wish to generate traffic to your site – which we assume you do.

Read on, and get to know why keywords cannot simply be translated to your desired target language, but needs to be localised in order to reach your audience.

Keyword localisation is crucial for a multilingual website

Imagine this:

You have a text in English that is SEO-optimised in line with your chosen keywords. You want to get the text translated into other languages as well. So you send the text over to your preferred translation agency and ask them to translate your English SEO text into however many languages.

Et voilà!

Now the only thing left to do is kick back and wait for the translations to come through so you can upload them. Or so you thought!

But then the translation agency comes back and ask if you have a list of localised keywords for the languages you want your original English text translated into. By ‘localised keywords’, they mean the words or terms that people in the target market actually use when searching.

You reply that the English text already contains keywords and simply needs to be translated. After all, the original text has already been optimised in line with your chosen key words, so surely it’s just a case of cracking on with the translation now, right?

But what it actually comes down to is that keywords can’t simply be translated like for like. Unfortunately!

Keywords need to be localised to the individual languages and markets so that the translated texts can attain visibility on Google and other search engines.

Let me explain why it’s done, and not least – how!

Reasons why keywords need to be translated

Keywords are those words or terms that people type into the search field on search engines such as Google when they are looking for a product, service or anything else online.

If you want your website to pop up on the first page of results whenever people search for things that are relevant to your business, then it is absolutely crucial that your website is optimised in line with the right keywords.

To find out which keywords are the right ones for your website, you will need to perform an analysis into what words people actually use when searching for your product or service online. This is known as keyword research. But it is not enough to simply identify the right keywords for your original English text. You will also need to identify the best keywords to use in the languages and markets that you want your SEO-optimised text translated into as well. This way, you can be sure that the words used most often when searching will be the words that appear in your translated texts.

The reason why you’ll want to use the keywords with the greatest search volume (the most searches) is that this will help you draw more organic traffic to your website and thus ultimately boost your sales.

If you simply translate the keywords that have been identified for your English text directly, there is no guarantee that you will end up with the precise keywords that are used most often on search engines in the target language. Because as you doubtlessly know, the vast majority of words can be translated in multiple different ways.

Let’s look at an example.

Why it makes sense to localise your keywords

Let’s imagine that you own a company which sells durable and practical garments to be worn at the workplace. You want to translate your text into Spanish, but first you need to identify your keyword in English.

You’ve got several different options:

  • Workwear
  • Work clothes
  • Working clothes
  • Protective clothing

All of these terms perfectly describe what you sell and so they are technically all great options for you and your company. But when it comes to SEO, it can make a huge difference which of these four terms you use in your English texts as there is considerable variation in how often they are used in real-life searches (their search volume).

Just take a look at the table below:

Keyword Search volume*
Workwear 19.000
Work clothes 3.700
Protective clothing 800
Working clothes 250

The table shows that, in the UK, an average of 19,000 searches are made for workwear each month. That is more than five times the amount of estimated searches for the search term work clothes, which is otherwise a perfectly fine description of the products you sell.

Now that we’ve identified the right term, it’s time to get translating into Spanish.

But workwear can be translated in several different ways. For example:

  • Ropa de trabajo
  • Ropa laboral
  • Uniformes de trabajo
  • Vestuario laboral

All of these options are absolutely correct in and of themselves, but if we take a look at the table below, we can once more see that there is a considerable difference in their search volumes and thus in their value as SEO keywords:

Keyword Search volume*
Ropa de trabajo 11.00
Ropa laboral 5.300
Uniformes de trabajo 5.200
Vestuario laboral 3.500

The conclusion is therefore that if you simply choose to translate your English SEO text with its English keywords directly, you run the risk that your English keyword might be translated into a word in the target language which has a less than optimum search volume.

This could cause you to lose out on potential traffic to your website which might otherwise have led to more conversions and thus a greater turnover.

How are keywords localised?

I hope the above example has made clear why we shouldn’t just translate keywords blindly – instead we need to localise our keywords for each specific language and market. This means undertaking keyword research in order to identify which of the various translation options has the most searches (search volume) in the target language so you can make sure to use the exact right keyword on your website.

There are various different tools which can be used to research which words people use most often when searching for your product or service in different languages so that you can be absolutely sure that the keywords with the largest search volumes are implemented in your translations.

Here at COMUNICA, we take pride in our ability to help customers with the translation of all kinds of texts, including translation of website texts that need a little extra work in order to make sure that Google and other search engines will not only be able to find your website, but recognise its value and decide to rank it highly in the results.

We recommend that companies who want their website texts translated begin by compiling a list of localised keywords for the target language in order to make sure that the correct keywords with the greatest potential are implemented into the translation rather than a direct equivalent which might not do anything to make your website more visible in search results.

Get in touch if you would like to learn more about how COMUNICA can help you with your SEO texts from start to finish so that they will look the part not just in the eyes of your customers, but in the eyes of Google, too.

*Search volume as at 12 November 2020.