This January, we’ve been excited to launch our brand new blog series: The Future of Translation. 2020 has marked the beginning of both a new year and a new decade, giving us the perfect opportunity to explore what’s next for the language services industry. Last week, we looked at the evolution of AI translation. In our final part of the series this week, we’re going to dive into multilingual SEO as the future of global marketing campaigns.

Let’s not run before we can walk: Before we explore multilingual SEO, we need to get to grips with SEO by itself.

Whether you’re a business owner, marketing manager, web designer or salesperson, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of SEO.

SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation, for those of us staring at the screen with a puzzled expression) is quite simply a practise of optimising your website so that it can be easily found by Google and other search engines.

After all, we all know that the higher we climb those all-important search results, the more traffic we’ll attract to our site and, crucially, the more potential customers we’ll reach.

It’s no surprise, then, that SEO has become big business. Nowadays, everyone who has a website – from the local bakery to the biggest multinationals in the world – can take advantage of SEO best practises. What’s more, SEO is especially attractive to those forward-thinking companies with big ambitions – like those who want to go global as part of their growth.


But with everyone from SEO marketing companies, to web content writers to PPC agencies promising fast results, who should you trust to help drive international sales?

Could you be throwing your money away?

There are countless guides to SEO floating around the internet. But how do you know if you’re doing it right?

Let’s say that you have a product that you’re aiming to launch in an overseas market. One of the first steps you’ll likely take is to invest in professional translation services to translate your website – including your website copy, product descriptions and blog content.

Of course, you should be applauded for understanding the importance of translation and language services. After all, 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language, 30% of consumers claim to never buy from English-language sites, and another 29% say they rarely do. Investing in professional translation services to break into your target market is a no brainer… Right?

Well… On the one hand, yes. Getting your message right in other languages is crucial, particularly when marketing your products and services.

But what happens when you launch your English-language marketing campaign and want to begin pushing your product in your target market? With a bog-standard translation of your website – which is to say, that the meaning of the original text (source text) is conveyed in the translation (target text) – I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re extremely unlikely to see a return on your investment.

But why?

Translating your website? It’s all about multilingual SEO

Spending money on translating website copy without a multilingual SEO strategy is like buying a Lamborghini with no engine. In other words, it’s a waste of time and will cost you far more in the long run!

You may be proud of your organic traffic on your English-language site, but if you’ve spent a significant chunk of time perfecting keywords to target in English, a straightforward translation of these words won’t cut it. This is because basic document translation only takes into account the linguistic elements of the text.

Sure, any translator worth their salt will use context and cultural knowledge to inform their translation, but translating keywords isn’t as simple as that.

A successful multilingual SEO strategy means researching what people are searching for in your target market and, with a specialist on board, integrating keyword research into the translation process.

An image of an authentic trattoria in the snow. The translation of the word 'trattoria', is a great example of where multilingual seo is needed. While 'ristorante' is the more literal translation, 'trattoria' is used in more specific instances.

Multilingual SEO: Food for thought

For example, let’s say you opened a restaurant in Italy that was mainly frequented by English-speaking tourists. After some time, you may decide you want to market your restaurant towards Italian-speaking locals.

The basic translation of ‘restaurant’ into Italian is ‘ristorante'. However, should the locals be after a more simple affair, they may consult Google looking for a ‘trattoria’, or the even more informal ‘osteria’. The linguistic and cultural distinctions between these words are second-nature for Italians, but are usually lumped under the single word ‘restaurant’ in English. Without multilingual keyword research, you could be missing out on key consumer insights.

What’s more, even if countries share a language, such as Argentina and Spain, or the USA and the UK, they will not necessarily search for products in the same way... There’s no point trying to sell sweets to a candy-filled market, or pushing crisps when people want ‘chips’!

This means that keywords will have to be localised for the target regions as well as the target language/s.

Translate your content into sales

Content marketing is a brilliant way to increase engagement and boost SEO – but translating blog posts is no longer enough. Don’t forget to optimise and adapt your content to take into account the linguistic and cultural nuances of your target market, with the main objective being to boost your business in that particular market.

Indeed, it is proven that content performs best when it is language-specific and region-specific.

In other words, multilingual SEO shouldn’t just be an afterthought in 2020 – this could end up costing you more in the long run. Multilingual SEO is the key to the door of untapped foreign markets and should form the basis of your global marketing campaigns.

How will yours translate into sales?

Why Wolfestone?

Here at Wolfestone, we’re experts in providing high-quality multilingual SEO services – We have a track record of helping our clients successfully go global.

Get in touch with our friendly team and find out how we can help you reach your goals.

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