At AT Language Solutions we always highlight the importance of translating your website into several languages: it internationalises your company, thereby increasing your sales potential in foreign markets. A professional translation of your content is essential when it comes to penetrating new markets. But for your internationalisation strategy to translate into conversions and sales, you need to look at international SEO translation. That way, it won't have a negative impact on the positioning of your entire website. This post looks at some of the most common pitfalls when it comes to positioning your website into several languages.
Not putting translations in the hands of professional translators
A lot of websites and even online stores put their trust in machine translations to translate content into other languages. But this can result in a number of inaccuracies and spelling mistakes, leading to future customers losing confidence in the brand's professionalism.
And what's more, not working with native speaking professional translators means your content won't be adapted to the people reading it, with no attention paid to the geographical, ethnic, religious, or social norms and sensitivities of each country. One of the most striking examples of this was the damage to Spanish company Mango's reputation in France for selling a line of "slave" bracelets (in Spanish the word for slave can also mean a type of bracelet). The company was forced to apologise and immediately correct the translation error.
Not doing keyword research for the new language
It's a common pitfall to think that having professionally translated content in the languages required is enough. But no matter how well those texts are translated, it could be that the keywords you're using in the source language don't work in the same way in the target languages.
In many cases, the words users search for on search engines could be different depending on the country, even for the same product. That's why it's important to do keyword research for every new language, making your search terms for potential customers more accurate.
There are a lot of really useful keyword tools which you can use to refine your international strategy further.
Not changing the URL from one language to another
This happens most of all in e-commerce, with some not showing any indication of the website being in two or more languages. For example, imagine you have a website in Spanish and English; if the URL for a product is “www.miweb.com/mejor-producto/” for both languages, you're going to come across positioning issues. You always need to differentiate the URLs for the various languages, and that includes versions for Spanish (Spain), and Spanish (Mexico).
Not using, or incorrectly using, the rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” tag
The “hreflang” tag is one of the most powerful tags Google provides to optimise international SEO. So it's extremely important that each page correctly includes the “hreflang” tag on each of its versions. This tag always needs to be in the head of our page's code.
This is how Google recognises the language each version of the page is in, and it will give better positioning to pages which have these tags properly placed.
Use the rel=canonical tag to prioritise the preferred language
This is an error that can render your whole positioning strategy useless. If you use this tag you're saying to Google that, regardless of the language the user wants to see, the most important page is the one in the main language.
For example, the Spanish version is not relevant to a French visitor, which Google will consequently penalise your positioning for. We always need to remember that the “rel=canonical” tag was created to be used on duplicate pages in order to avoid a penalty from Google.
These are just some of the most common pitfalls when it comes to optimising international SEO, but there are a lot more. Which is why you should come to AT Language Solutions to translate your website into several languages, because we work with native-speaking professional translators. We can also help with your international SEO strategy and other translation services. Why not have a look at our website?