In last weeks post we discussed using geotargeting to attract foreign language searchers to the relevant part of our website, I’d just like to add a refinement to that then discuss various translation options.
If we have multiple language versions of the same content we should use the
rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” tag to indicate to Google that this is the case so it displays the right content to the right user. The other useful thing about this is that it avoids any duplicate content issues. So if, for example, you have an Australian and US version of your site and the main site is for GB English using this tag would eliminate any potential duplicate content issue.
There’s some very specific information at Google about how to set up these tags at this link:-
Setting up an appropriate sitemap is an alternative way of addressing this – if you read through the content at the link above you should find out which is the best option for you. (do them both if any doubt)
Whether you use the same site or different sites with country specific domains you are still left with the question of how much to translate. Here’s an example…
This customer of ours decided just to translate individual pages for the countries they were interested in. Above is the Russian landing page which serves for both SEO and Pay per Click driven traffic (Google Adwords and Yandex were used for PPC– the main Russian search engine being Yandex).
Of course we must remember to translate the metadata as well for SEO purposes…
We have other customers who have translated their whole site. Obviously this leads to a better overall user experience and enables you to capture more foreign language keywords (an average of 3 phrases per translated page) – but its not always necessary, at least initially.
We tend to use a specialist translations agency but some people are tempted to use auto translation services. Here’s an example from one of our customers…
This is the Norwegian version – clicking on any of the flags on the site does an automatic translation of that page in real time, courtesy of Google Translate.
The advantage of this is obvious from a translations cost point of view. The disadvantages are that the translations aren’t always totally accurate and of course you cant use these pages to capture search traffic (as typically they don’t end up in the Google index).
If you go this route I’d have at least one professionally translated landing page and give a ‘health warning’ that the auto translated pages are not totally accurate.
We have mentioned Google throughout this post but next week I’ll discuss other search engines – some of which are more dominant than Google in certain countries you may want search visibility in.