Learn how translate bearing in mind your SEO

Published on 20/01/2019

An efficient SEO (search engine optimization) strategy, or what is also known as organic positioning, is composed of many elements. Website content is one of the most important elements. Quality content, content growth and the appropriate use of our keywords are indispensable to appear on Google’s first page. In this post, I will talk about some of the key elements to take into account, so that when we do the translation of our website, we also prepare it for organic positioning in the target language.

Índice de contenidos

Index of contents

Index du contenu


  1. Translation of Meta Tags
  2. What Meta Tags to Translate?
  3. Keyword Analysis
  4. URL Translation
  5. Translation of Image Name

Translation of Meta Tags

One situation that I usually find in my professional practice is that sometimes the head of the marketing department in charge of managing the translations has limited technical knowledge about the elements and technologies used by their website. This is generally because, both in large companies and in SMEs, the website has often been developed by an external company specializing in web design and optimization for search engines.

As you may already know, meta tags are part of a website code and are visible on very specific occasions. To give an example of content in meta tags, many websites will show us a descriptive text of an image only when we put the mouse over the image: this text is inserted into the code of a webpage. Meta tags are part of a web content correctly developed to achieve organic positioning, for this reason, its translation is mandatory if you intend to achieve organic positioning after the translation of the website.

Translation of Meta Tags

What Meta Tags to Translate?

The first thing we should ask ourselves is whether our company seeks to position itself organically or not. This must correspond to a well-analysed strategy. That is, we should study the competition and see if we have real possibilities of getting positioned on Google’s first page (or the favorite search engine of our target audience, which will not be Google if we target markets as relevant as the Russian, Chinese or Japanese markets). Although we already know, in the case of Europe, that beyond Google’s first page we find nothing. A positioning strategy requires a constant budget and work, and it is possible that because of our size and sector we want to compete with companies for which we simply do not have a budget.

What Meta Tags to Translate?

So it is possible that sometimes we are clear that we are not going to invest in the organic positioning of our translated website and that we want to have the website translated for the presentation of our company. In this case, we may want promote the website through a SEM strategy. If this is the case, we can reduce the meta tags to translate to the next two:

Meta title tag: describes the title of each of the web pages that make up a website and corresponds to the text we see at the top of the browser. An example is shown using AbroadLink's website and a Google search:

Title meta tag

Title meta tag

Description tag: this is a tag that describes the web page. Along with the title, it is one of the most important labels for positioning, so it is also advisable to translate it. It will be what Google shows as a description of the page in case we appear listed in the case of certain searches. Please note that our customers can make a specific search using the unique name of our product.

Description label

As I said, the two previous tags should be translated for marketing reasons, even if we don't intend to position the website, but their translation is essential if we are working on positioning the website. Apart from these tags, there are many others that we should translate. In general, a website that has been meticulously prepared to be positioned will have the tags listed below.

Below are listed those tags whose text does not appear directly in the body of a web page, but which is important from the point of view of SEO: tag with keywords (<keywords>) and attributes with text in the image tag <img> (these tags have two relevant attributes: the attribute <alt> which is the text that appears when we position the mouse over an image and the attribute <title> , which is the one that describes the image when it takes some time to load and is relevant to Google when we search for images).

Keyword Analysis

Another very important aspect that we should take into account when translating our website thinking about SEO positioning is which keywords have been positioned. A well-planned SEO strategy begins by studying the keywords we want to position. These keywords must appear throughout our content and in the different elements that make up the page, both in the meta tags and the main body of the page (as well as in its different parts: titles, subtitles, paragraphs, external and internal links ...). It would therefore be advisable for the translator or translators of our website to have a list of these keywords that form the backbone of our SEO strategy in order to pay special attention to their translation. If resources allow, we should even carry out the same keyword analysis as we did for the original website for each of the foreign markets and thus ensure that the translations correspond to the most frequent searches in that market in which what we want to position our website.

URL Translation

Another very important part of keyword positioning is the name of the URL of each page. A fairly effective SEO strategy is for the URL to have the keywords we want to position. In general, the various CMS, such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, PrestaShop or Magento, will internationalize the URLs using the title of the site, but it is advisable to optimize these adaptations. One way to do this is by directly translating the URLs of the website to be translated if the URLs were already optimized.

URL Translation

If you do not use a CMS that adapts the URLs of the translated website, the URLs will need to be translated manually. This aspect should not be neglected because it has a huge impact on positioning and the perception of our website by the user.

Translation of Image Name

Although this is an aspect with little weight on the positioning and will hardly be visible to the user of the web. The only way a user could see the name we have given to a specific image is to download it, which is not common. The translation of the name of the images will be time-consuming, since it will imply to create as many images as translated languages. However, an advanced positioning strategy usually includes this element as well.

Translation of Image Name

The optimized translation of a website goes beyond the mere translation when our website aims to position itself on Google’s first page. In these cases, it is crucial to make sure that all the textual elements of the web that are relevant for positioning are translated and that these texts contain a uniform and appropriate translation of the keywords that we want to position in the target language.

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Josh Gambin

Josh Gambin holds a 5-year degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (Spain) and a 4-year degree in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Granada (Spain). He has worked as a freelance translator, in-house translator, desktop publisher and project manager. From 2002, he is a founding member of AbroadLlink and currently works as Marketing and Sales Manager.

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