SEO Translation: A Comprehensive Guide

March 7, 2024
SEO Translation: A Comprehensive Guide

According to Internet World Stats, less than 27 percent of web users speak English, and more than 50 percent of Google searches are in other languages. Adding SEO translation to a website means a brand is understood by other languages, and it introduces that brand to a global audience.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a vital component of good marketing strategies for any business, large or small. Optimizing a website drives traffic to a brand’s products and services, and gets the brand noticed. In this article, we’ll discuss what SEO is and how to achieve it to reach over 120 languages.

What Is SEO Translation?

Language today is no longer a barrier to a global market, and SEO translation has opened borders to every country. For example, the number of Arabic users using the internet increased to 2501.2 percent between 2000 and 2011 compared to only 301.4 percent for English use.

The internet is a global hub, and if a website is only available in one language, a business is missing out on the chance to reach international markets. SEO is a strategy to get your website to the top of search engine rankings. SEO translation converts your site content to other languages in a manner that performs well in search engines.

Creating a multilingual website and optimizing your translated content for SEO means a global audience will find your site and your products.
Part of an international SEO strategy is to stay competitive in a market, and you can rest assured your competitors have already translated and optimized their sites. SEO translation, however,  requires a skilled translator who is also knowledgeable in SEO tactics.

The translator needs to consider not just human readers but how to create a page that search engine algorithms will find instantly. Good SEO tactics include keywords, titles, expressions, tags, script messages such as snippets, and other tools that improve the searchability of a website. Sometimes a page might perform well when searched in its original language, but when titles are translated into the target language, it might lose its ability to rank solidly.

Keywords are important in SEO, but by translating an English title that is filled with high-ranking keywords into another language, the title may no longer be optimized for search engines.  The keywords are no longer valid in the new language context. The translator must convert the keywords in the new language in a way that reflects well in search engines.

Let’s imagine a company creates a blog on “how to salsa dance.” That blog will reach plenty of English speakers, but there are many people in other languages searching in Google who would love to read the blog. A Spanish person might search “aprende a bailar salsa” and with SEO translation that person would find your blog. “How to salsa dance” gets 10,000 searches a month and “aprende a bailar salsa” gets 2,000. By translating the blog to Spanish, traffic to your site increased by 20%.

Why Is Multilingual SEO Translation Vital?

While common SEO practices help get top rankings on Google, SEO strategies for native language content allow you to target different languages and countries. When a site is accessible to multiple languages, you reach new global audiences and get top rankings in specific regions. All this drives traffic to your site and gets your brand front and center to the world.

Translating your English content to Chinese makes it possible for users searching in Chinese to find your site in their language and your products. At its core, multilingual search engine optimization makes it easy for the world to find you and your brand. If your brand appeals to a local culture, whether that entails currency, cultural differences, or even colors, the user experience improves, and your new customers feel good about buying your goods or services.

The better your user experience, the longer visitors stay on your site. This also reduces your bounce rate and makes Google know you have great content. With Google’s volatile algorithm, it considers a user’s experience, and this means translating your content and optimizing for multilingual SEO helps visitors find your site and improves your traffic.

Read more: International SEO The Complete Guide

Tips For SEO Translations

Before embarking on a solid SEO strategy, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Here are some tips to consider for optimizing your site into a multilingual magnet.

Do It Right

It’s important to do SEO translation correctly, or you could affect rankings. Make certain you pick the right translation services that understand SEO inside and out. If you’re considering SEO translation, it’s a good time to redesign your site or relaunch it in a big way. Doing this allows you to focus on content that needs updating and ensures you’re using the most current version of English content.

Keep in mind that converting your website to a second language will increase the amount of time you’ll spend on updates, even if you have a third party help you. You’ll also have to create other versions of the site for each language you choose to offer content in. If you run a blog, that will need a version translation as well.

It's a good practice to begin with a leaner version of the site that only provides the most crucial elements. You can always expand the site later and it will be easier to complete.


Spend time researching before you translate. Translating keywords into another language must be tweaked. Every language has its own approach to communication, and this includes phrases, beliefs, and colloquialisms. Literal translations won’t come out like they are in English, so discuss the outcomes with your translator.

Research each page and strategize which keywords are more valuable in the new language, and make those a priority in the translation. A good translation company will help you choose the best SEO terms (check out this article on translation practices). You also want to make certain your translator speaks the target language fluently so you get all the phrases and tones correct.

SEO Translation For Titles

When translating the main content, you’ll also translate SEO titles and meta descriptions. This helps the translated content rank in search engines. These are important because this is what appears when someone searches Google. Include the focus keyword in both the titles and meta description.

Keyword Research In Destination Language

After you perform the keyword research in the main content, do some deep research on what people are searching for, and don’t assume people will search for the exact literal translation of the original focus keyword. You want to discover those search terms in every language you are using. Many keyword research tools support keyword research in multiple languages, but if yours does not, consider KWFinder or Ahrefs.

Use A Human To Review

Machine translation is an optimal way to get a translation done quickly, but if you are focused on SEO translation, you should implement using translation services with a human translator. Google doesn’t agree to  text translated by a machine with no human review. Always use a human to review machine-translated material. When optimizing titles, slug, and other content you’re already reviewing your site, but get a second review by a translator.

Using machine translation services for your workflow will save you time and money, and the steps look something like this:

  • Machine translation service generates your base template translation.
  • Get a human review of baseline translation and correct errors, then optimize the content with the optimal focus keyword. Most translation services utilize a human SEO translator along with machine translation, so find one that does.

SEO Translate URL Slugs

In addition to SEO titles and descriptions, a good SEO translator will translate the URL slugs. These are what appear after the domain name, for example, The type after is all your slug and must be translated with everything else. This provides important information about the content of the page for search engines and humans. The URL slug is an ideal location to plant your main focus keyword.

Avoid 100% Machine Translation

If you use automatic translations, Google recommends using your site’s robots.txt file to block search engines from crawling the automatically translated content. Many times, automated translations have errors and don’t make sense to Google, so the text could be viewed as spam. The best bet is to manually review or have a human translator review the content after machine translation. This will avoid any errors and makw your content Google-friendly.

Multilingual SEO Translation Tactics

While the SEO translation tips are beneficial to optimizing your content, there are some other secrets worth sharing for multilingual SEO tactics. These will help you establish a top ranking for your translated content.
Implement a multilingual XML sitemap. This is similar to your original XML sitemap, but a multilingual sitemap helps Google navigate across all the translated versions of your pages.

Implement the Hreflang tag. The hreflang tag informs Google which language and locale to associate with every piece of content, and this helps Google make certain they rank the proper version of the page for every language.

Implement an indexable URL for each language. Google needs to be able to easily crawl each language on your site, so help her find it. A good strategy is to create a subfolder for each language and keep all content related to that language site in the proper folder. This will keep you organized from day one, and it’s especially important if you have or will have multiple language sites. It’s a lot of content so keep them in folders.

Do You Need Multilingual SEO Services?

You’re probably aware of the adage “leave this one to the professionals” and while that might be true for a lot of cases, for this particular one, like most things in marketing, the answer is “it depends”. There are two main things you need to consider before you even begin to think if you need to get the experts involved in your multilingual SEO project. But just in case you’ve already decided that you need help, our multilingual SEO services might be the right fit for you. Now, onto the two questions you need to answer to know if you need multilingual SEO services. 

Are People Searching for Your Product or Services Now? 

The success of any multilingual SEO strategy or even any regular SEO strategy depends on existing search data. If your product is new or has just been conceptualized then there are other marketing channels that you should look into before you start with SEO. Take any 

How Soon Do You Need The Results?

Contrary to popular belief, SEO is not often a one-shot solution to your marketing needs. Evidence of this is seen in the pricing models agencies are putting out on their websites. A minimum commitment of 6 months is usually required for them to take on your account. It’s a process that would require varying levels of constant optimization. 

For this, our team at Tomedes has come up with pricing and service models that would allow you to pick the right plan for your business. We can take care of your end-to-end multilingual SEO strategy, or even work with your marketing team and give insights and data that you can utilize to bootstrap your own multilingual SEO campaign.  


What is the impact of SEO translation on global market accessibility?

SEO translation significantly broadens a brand's global reach by making its website accessible and understandable in multiple languages. This not only enhances the user experience for non-English speakers but also boosts the brand's visibility in international search engine results.

How does SEO translation differ from standard website translation?

Unlike standard translation, SEO translation incorporates search engine optimization strategies tailored to each target language. This involves not just translating the content, but also optimizing it with relevant keywords, meta tags, and culturally appropriate phrases to ensure high visibility in local search engine results.

What are some key considerations when translating keywords for SEO?

When translating keywords, it's crucial to understand the cultural and linguistic nuances of the target audience. Keywords should not be translated literally; instead, they should be adapted to reflect local search behaviors and terminology, ensuring they resonate with the intended audience.

Can SEO translation affect a website's ranking in search engines? How?

Yes, SEO translation can significantly impact a website's search engine ranking. Properly optimized multilingual content can lead to higher visibility and better rankings in local search results, driving more targeted traffic to the site.

Last Words

Applying SEO translations in multiple languages can be laborious, but the results, when the multilingual SEO translation is done correctly, far outweigh the work. Doing so opens your world to diverse, cultural markets, and increases traffic and sales.

A good translation service like Tomedes understands how to find the right terms for SEO, as well as provide the most accurate translations in the world. What language can we speak for you? Call now to launch your project.

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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