What’s Involved in SEO Website Translation?

Last updated Jan 22, 2024
By Gwenydd Jones

SEO website translation is where the translator makes sure your website translation gets found on search engines. This article will explain what you need to do to make sure you get an SEO website translation.

Make SEO translation part of your website project plan

You’d be amazed how many people treat translation as an afterthought. This is a big mistake. To make sure you get a translation that ranks on search engines, you need to think about it from phase one.

One important decision is whether to have a single website domain or multiple domains. This article I wrote “Multilingual Websites: Single or Multiple Domains?” explains how expensive it can be if you get this wrong. It’s essential reading if you’re planning to offer your website in different languages.

Want to translate your website? Essential reading on SEO website #translation. Click To Tweet

Find your own SEO translator

While your website designers and content writers start creating the website, you can start looking for an SEO translator. The website designer may offer to do this for you, but it’s best to pass. They may choose a cheap translator to do your translation because they’ll want to take a commission.

The effectiveness of the SEO translation will decide whether you rank in the new language. If you cut out the middleman and work directly with the SEO translator, you’ll spend the same money, but get a much better translator.

What to look for in an SEO translator

– The translator must have trained in search engine optimisation. Otherwise, they won’t understand the techniques they need to use in the translation. See how well their own website is ranking, to get an idea of what they know.

– The SEO translator must be professionally qualified. And they should have experience in SEO translation and marketing translation. They should have trained in copywriting as well.

– Look for initiative when you interact with your prospective translator. This is because you’ll need them to make suggestions and changes where necessary. Sometimes the content in the original language isn’t suitable for the new language. You’ll get much more for your money if they have the gumption to react to problems. It’s a bonus if they share ideas for improvement with you.

– Pricewise, you’ll need to pay professional prices to cover the translator’s time. Top translators are in demand and don’t give their skills away for peanuts. Look at return on investment. Professional SEO translations do what they’re designed to do: they generate leads and/or sales.

Of course, all the basics for getting a high-quality translation also apply. You can read about these in “5 Tips on Professional Translation Services Online“, by Lucy Williams.

Don’t let a non-native website designer go for whatever Google Translate tells them.

How to create a list of translated SEO keywords

There may be an obvious translation for some of your keywords. But others may have several translations. It’s a good idea to start with a glossary and then have the translator build on it. Some clients just get the glossary translated and run with that.

If you’re working direct with a trusted SEO translator, it’s worth getting them to spend several hours doing keyword research. Starting with your source keywords, they can try to identify which translation options get the most searches. They can also look at the level of competition for different options.

Their report may influence the final keywords you choose to target in the new language.

Which parts of your website should receive SEO translation?


Each of your pages will have a main keyword in the URL. So, the translation of this main keyword should feature there in the new language. It’s important to have the SEO translator look at this. Don’t let a non-native website designer go for whatever Google Translate tells them. (Not sure why? Read <i>10 Reasons To Use Professional Translation Services and Not Google Translate</i>, by Lucy). That way, you’ll get the cleanest possible URLS, targeted for the agreed keywords.


When you translate, the word order changes. The SEO translator will be mindful of getting keywords up front in headings. If the original headings weren’t SEO optimised, they can work in keywords.

Body text

As a website content writer, I prefer to focus on one main keyword in each page or article. However, I know of others who prefer to try to work in several main and minor keywords. You can brief the translator on your preferred method and ask them to work with it.

One of my clients likes to highlight all the keywords. This makes my life easier. It also lets them see how I’ve worked the keyword translations into their blog articles. Sometimes the texts I work with weren’t optimised for SEO when they were written. I then adapt the content to add more keywords and better position them in the sentences.

To make sure you get a translation that ranks on search engines, you need to think about it from phase one.

Meta descriptions

Perhaps you use the first paragraph of each page as your meta description. An advantage of doing this is that you can lift the translation to produce the meta description. Using this existing work will save a few pennies. But it’s worth writing special SEO-optimised meta descriptions. To rank, but also to try to pique the searcher’s interest.

Image titles and ALT text

Every little SEO-effort helps. Don’t forget to include image titles and ALT text in your SEO website translation.

Blog content

Some companies are hesitant about translating their blog. There is a larger financial investment involved, not to mention the time investment. Existing employees often have to learn to create the content and add this job to their daily task list.

When you start out with blogging and getting your blogs translated, you also have to take a leap of faith. This is because you don’t really start to see results until about six months have passed.

On the upside, lots of people enjoy blogging. And I can tell you that we and our clients have seen payoff. By doing SEO blogging properly, we all get more leads through search-engine ranking. As long as you start getting those leads, the blogging will pay for itself. That’s why it’s so important to work with an SEO website translator who knows what they’re doing.

Social media content

Don’t forget the messages you want to write on social media to promote your content. You can either provide these for translation, or ask the translator to write them. Worried about having to interact in a foreign language? Then write content that suggests action instead of content that asks for a response.

Templates for SEO website translation

All this may sound like a lot, but I set up templates with my clients, to make it easy to include everything.

The basics of working with your SEO website translator

Once you’ve talked everything through with your SEO translator and figured out a system together, you’ll quickly get into a routine. That is one of the many benefits of collaborating with a professional translator.

I’ll leave you with these articles, which you may find useful to help you get started:

Translation Quote Guide for Customers

How To Get a Translation: Complete Customer Guide

Why Use Accredited Translation Services?

How To Give Translation Instructions For Results That Sell

8 Ways To Get the Best Freelance Translation Services

Check out this article on SEO website #translation. So good I read it right to the end! Click To Tweet

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Written by Gwenydd Jones

Gwenydd Jones is a Spanish- and French-to-English translator, an SEO blogger and a course creator. She is the founder of The Translator's Studio and the lead teacher on its courses. Connect with Gwenydd on LinkedIn or contact her through this website.

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