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Choosing Multilingual SEOs



8:42 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi there,

I am a newbie here and intend to ask you guys for small advice. I am on the verge of having my site translated and optmized in 15 languages.

I have contacted a few companies and I got some serious proposals... would you know of them, any advice/experience?

Would be good!

Thanks a lot.


[edited by: Rumbas at 12:23 am (utc) on Dec. 31, 2006]
[edit reason] fixed urls [/edit]


1:02 pm on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

You should check if the plan is for microsites or a full and comprehensive appproach.

You should ask who will be working on your campaigns - and whether they are native-speakers.

You should also check if those native-speakers are trained in working on your activity - or brought in to boost their language capabilities eg students.

You should also check how keywords will be incorporated into the translations and how and how the translations will be validated.

Hope that helps!


12:26 am on Dec 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator 10+ Year Member

Welcome to the forum Frank :)

Andy made some really good suggestions which I bascially just want to echo.

Go have a look in the libary here and you'll find a lot fo really good stuff:

Let us know what you end up doing and how it's turning out? :)

Good luck!


1:01 am on Dec 31, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

You should also bear in mind that having your site translated and optimised into any language or languages is not as straight forward as finding native speakers or mother tongue speakers ..nor is that always the best and most effective route

( and this applies however well or badly that is done and whatever means you may have / or not to assess the quality of the translations )

..plus bear in mind that Search engines change their indexing algo / criteria etc and your translated pages will need to be periodically re translated /SEO'd in the various languages to take this into account ..and that's not counting the link aquisition that needs to be done in each language ..( SEO is not all about "on page factors" ) but you and search engines know this already :)

This also means ( amongst other factors ) you would also have to be prepared either to answer all email enquiries in those same languages ..or pay for them to be translated into your own language and then for your replies to be translated back into the enquirers language ..and how much would your translators charge you for that ongoing service needs defining up front ..customers whom you cannot talk back when they enquire prior to purchase .. are worthless use of your bandwidth ..

And I'm only just beginning there ..the design of sites and their "stickyness" and ROI changes and is dependant on the visual culture of the target markets ..the same page design ( talking "images" and "layout" here not just text ) will not sell so well in swedish as to japanese ..nor to french ..or whomever ..


Translation is about the understanding of cultures ( and their identifiable iconograpohy and semantic associations ..and the resultant motivations and psychology and triggers to action etc ..and they can depend on the age of the individual and or their status , income , background etc etc etc )..it's not about word for word ..

it's way more complex ..:)..n'est-ce pas

[edited by: Leosghost at 1:08 am (utc) on Dec. 31, 2006]


1:16 pm on Jan 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi Frank

SEO for multi language sites is far from trivial, and I recommend you understand the challenges fully, before you are sign any agreements.
1) Lets say you have an English page on the url www.mysite.com/news.aspx
2) Lets say the same page is available in German on the same URL www.mysite.com/news.aspx.
If this is the case it is very likely that Google will only index your site in one of the languages. "Google does not use cookies". If this does not make any sense, the more reason for you to investigate it, as you may otherwise learn it the hard way.
Could you tell how your URL-design will be on th esite?

/Jesper, Denmark


8:40 am on Jan 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

my 2 cents worth
PRIORITY: proofread, edit, edit, proofread and check again your master English content. If i had a penny for every typo, spelling mistake, grammatical error etc. in client's content I would be long retired!

1.ensure that whoever you contract can demonstrate results with previous clients
2. ensure that the process that you will have to work through is outlined throughly. it should be clearly staged, timeframes specified,and the order in which things are done is soooo important e.g. do the keyword research and competition analysis before even one word is translated (sounds like common sense eh? but then again, there is nothing so common as ...)
3. expect some quite different keywords/keyphrases between languages and cultures. this means you should also expect some alteration to navigation structure and links, url names etc.
4. check that the translators, proofreaders etc. are in-country (they live in their home country). translators who live away from their native language can lose "currency" as language evolves a lot quicker than we assume.
5. independant proofreading and editing of the translations. the agency should package it so that there are at least 2 sets of eyes at a minimum going over all content
6. ideally, the translators/editors should be practicing SEO operators. some agencies separate the process, but I think the only way to get good readable copy and good optimised text is to integrate the two.
7. the entire translation/seo process is a collaboration between you and the agency; expect to be doing quite a bit of the work yourself if you want it to be effective. the agency will require a lot of input from you to make it work, and you know your product and services best. be available, answer questions promptly and accurately.
8. and finally, depending on the language, get ready for some killer PFI fees!


11:18 am on Jan 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

check that the translators, proofreaders etc. are in-country (they live in their home country). translators who live away from their native language can lose "currency" as language evolves a lot quicker than we assume.

That part ..I'd have to disagree with ..the greater part of the ineptly done ( by others ) translation that I have to cope with ( word for word dictionary "translation" in the main ) is done by supposedly MA level ( in their own language ) "qualified" in-country speakers ..
Their "translations" rarely result in somthing which reads fluidly ..as they are working from , let's say ..English ( in which they may have some academic qualification but no real comprehension of the nuances and subtleties ) and translating to french ( their mother tongue , in which they are highly qualified , but write stilted and artificially , as if they were trying to win a Prix Goncourt or writing a thesis on medieval accounting practices in artisan goats cheese production by monks in the monasteries of le Haut Var..circa 1240 AD ) ..the problem often being one of , they dont fully grasp what they are translating from ..and they express themselves in a style that is light years away from and several IQ points above ( way too verbose ) to the ususal writing style that your target readers ( in their native language ) prefer ..( or even comprehend ) readers of your website should not be intimidated by the prose style of your translators ..

If they are ..they will stop reading and leave ..

( thanks ..for getting as far as here :-)

Almost by definition ..someone who has a higher education qualification in their native language is very unlikely to use the same expressions and vocabulary in their search string inputs as some one with less literacy ..

( or in simpler terms :-) french language prof's dont put the same words in the search box as hairdressers from Lille ..so they write invariably lousy performing copy for beauty products or hair removal products aimed at Madame Dupont who maybe didn't go to University ..but who has money to spend on cosmetics ..

You would be amazed at how much of that I see ;-)..even from established multi lingual SEO/translation companies ..the problem is they can't spot it when their translators write that kind of copy ..because once written ..they then get it proof read by yet more people who come from the same kind of background and write the same kind of polysyllabic stuff designed to impress their home country academia rather than their countries average reader ..

You can imagine what that does to the SEO ..what use is being number one on any search engine for a word or a phrase that only 1 in 10,000 of your target searchers would use when searching for your product or service ..

People who grew up loving a diet of Jane Austin or Baudelaire and never ( because it's considered beneath them ) read Stephen King nor Simenon ..tend to write lousy copy for those selling pizzas or ball bearings or acne cream or hotel rooms in Kenyan wildlife resorts ..or ( you get the picture ;-) .."horses for courses" say the English ..wheras the french say "chacun ça *****" ( I could have used the correct french word ..but didn't as in english it would n't get past the bad word filter here ) ..but you can see the french phrase doesn't mention "chevaux" ( horses )..because there I'm translating an everyday easily understood idiom into something that that works and can be understood ..not word for word ..nor with pretentions to high literature ..

As regards needing to live in ones mother tongue country to stay fresh and in touch with the evolution of it's language and it's idioms ..Sat' TV ..radio ..the innerweb tubes ;-) ..DVD's.. participation in fora such as this ..and visits back to the UK ..be they for business or pleasure ..phone calls etc ..take care totally of that ..you dont need to live in London all year round ..to know how they speak on Oxford street is different from Brick Lane ..or "brummies" ..

I dont need to live 24/7/365 in the UK to know that the language has evolved to the point where virtually the entire government cabinet and shadow cabinet speak now with the vocabulary of a football player from south london who failed CSE english and that the Prime Minister has not much better diction than David Beckham ..nor that 90% of the population including all female politicians say "you know" .."I mean" and "like" ..as if they were 10 year old girls discussing pop singers..instead of using commas and other more normal forms of punctuation ..( or actually admitting that they have nothing to say nor possess the IQ requisite to formulate a coherent phrase without saying "I mean" 10 times before the full stop ..or more often glottal stop ) ..that doesnt mean I'd like them all to speak "posh" either..Just a little more variety and spice in the English of those who still live in England and work and play full time there would be appreciated .

.'s'cuse me ..sudden attack of Victor Meldrew there :)

You'll notice ( peut etre ;-) it is possible without being too heavy handed ..well ..maybe just a smidgin ( nor possesing a degree in English Lit at BA honours grade ) to lightly optimise even a post on WebmasterWorld for an ex England team captain footballers wife ..and even get in a heartfelt rant about the degradation of a language by those searching to sound like the common folk and thus influence them via empathy ..SEO is a lot like image management for politicians and "celebrities"

Equally façile to do the same thing in french for Zinadine ..

Without having to have attended the Sorbonne , nor live in Paris ..ni Marseille ..

And to keep it even handed ..whilst Mr Chirac's french is certainly better than Mr Blairs english ..they are both equally skilled at talking much and saying little ..when it suits them ..
Also at saying little and nevertheless being cristal clear ..again when it suits them ..

And neither has an MA in their own language ..but they influence millions ..

The copy on your translated pages should influence your visitors ..and did you have an MA in your own language when you wrote the original?..donc ..what's important is that it's grammatically correct ..if it needs to be for your readers?..and if it doesnt? ..it's no sweat ..the lyrics of most million selling pop songs have lousy grammar ..but the singers are rich ..and the record companies are richer ..;-)

edit reason ..typo ..probably not the only one . the grammar I'll leave as is ;-)

[edited by: Leosghost at 11:26 am (utc) on Jan. 10, 2007]


10:05 pm on Jan 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member henry0 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Leo, the point regarding translation done by native NOT leaving away from their native Country seems to me a good one.
I will use my example:
FR Born, 20 years plus in the USA.
Same for my wife
Well, more and more (at home) we do speak some strange language mixing sentences or part of, with English and FR by instinctively selecting from English or French words or section of a sentence that seems at the moment more ad hoc.

Writing in FR became drudgery!
Further I am no longer grammatically correct. (Hummm possibly in both tongues :) )

Do I still speak fluent FR indeed, but I know that I am not up to speed and sometime search for a word.
When we go back and visit family in Brittany, they always at the beginning will state that we “talk funny”

Strange that you do not feel the same? Or going through the same process


10:30 pm on Jan 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In my experience living away from your native tongue country affected my native language skills in 2 ways:

1. I tended, over time, to incorporate the language of the host country in to my native language (this is especially true when conversing with other ex-pats in that country). After 10 years in Japan it got to the point that I really had to think hard some times as to whether a word was English or Japanese! My English was peppered with common Japanese terms and most long term English speakers in Japan end up using a kind of pidgin English.
2. The way I used language changes, the style changed. If you are living away from your home country for an extended period, using a different language all day every day, then the way in which that language is used tends to move across into your native language. The cultural context can be so different; so the style of communicating changes. So when I used to come home to NZ for visits from Japan it took me a while to pick up the style and become truly 'fluent" again.

I guess that the internet, TV, DVDs etc. can help keep people current in their native language (especially new slang terms etc.), but it still never stopped me getting into some real linguistic conundrums!


10:42 pm on Jan 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member henry0 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

So I am not alone!


10:51 pm on Jan 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

No henry, you are not! I had the same comments about "speaking funny", and my Japanese wife now has the same when she goes home to Japan. We are all residents of a linguistic no-mans land!


11:33 pm on Jan 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

...and optmized

You may find this thread helpful, even if you only end up supervising:

Creating HTML mark-up for languages you don't know [webmasterworld.com]


12:04 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Ouieh ..but in H's ( ça va H? TVB? ) case everyone knows ( it says so in the telegram ) that the only people who speak weirder than those from Plouha ..are those that only have Celine Dion's thankyou speech to base their french upon ..and that of ton pere , ta mere , tes freres , tes soeurs , tes chiens et tes chats ..now her folks and the others in her family tree were living away from the foyer for so long that they fell way behind the "tchatche" ..

And I have to admit it is easier when one can travel a short distance or get live TV or radio to stay synchronous with the evolution of ones first language ..

Side note ..the most amazing linguists I ever came across were the Maltese ..the people who worked in the international depts in the banks in Malta can run from Malti to English to French to Italian to German to Arabic to Farsi ( not the same thing ) ..plus Urdu and Hindi and some Japanese and Mandarin and Spanish and Portugese ..and mix and match all of them in the same sentence ..at breakneck speed ..choosing the most appropriate word where the comprehension potential was at it's maximum ..( they probably added Russian to their repertoire since ) times change and money moves ..

I've met lebanese who were similar ..whatever language works ..use it ..

and for now Spanglish ( which is easier to understand than one would think ) and Arabic, French , Hindi and Mandarin may be enough to get by ..or bought ..

then there is teenspeak ( or mumble and shout ) ..sulk is a sub dialect, as is angst ..which is punctuated by doorslams and textile trademarks ( the rest of that niche vocabulary changes every 6 months or so ) ..and goth ..and chav ..and the japanese teen market has pink ..Bill speaks and can SEO in "pink" I'm sure ..:)
and strine which is/woz .. different from "hobbit" ( nod to a2z .:)..because since hordes of the things everyone knows that in north island everyone speaks elvish ..and to follow the road which goes ever onward you need the knowledge and an a2z ..e'en in rivendell

and I come back to the design and layout ..in some markets ( south east asian ) the graphics can genearate as many clicks ( depending on the age etc of the target demographic ) as the text ..

and then there is Icelandic and Bjork ..I like Bjork ..since the "cube" days and before ( and my keyboard cant do the correct O with the line in ..without I go into the char list and font box ) ..and the fact that the keyboard here is not as easy as the clavier of someone who lives in the country ..is probably the only valid reason to choose "in-country" translation over bi-lingual or polyglot ..

I would have tried to SEO in the word vespertine ..but one should try to keep ones post homogenic ..plus we were talking about the evolution of language and other modern things I figured it would have been a touch blatant ..and would have taken an army of me ..and no one would enjoy it :)

However the subject of traduction and SEO in translation is vast and this discussion is but a debut and I am doubtless surrounded by those who would take issue with me and dissagree the subject is still open ..the argument not yet won ..so no medulla for me ..

's'cuse the length of the post ..it became something akin to a hyperballad ..but how else to insert the search for Bjork discography including medulla except via an awfull pun ..

O..Henry.. j'ai hante pour moi ..but it's fun ..( ça m'amuse) ..en plus the best way to explain ..is by example ..

make your work your play ..and it will work better ..or not .. but a translator without a sense of humour is like an egg without salt ..

and like WebmasterWorld it takes many threads to weave the magic


12:23 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I'd missed that thread before tedster ..thanks ..another golden fil to embellish our knowledge of the subject ..and shows the importance of having the structure of weft and warp in place before creating a multi language tapestry of a site that can stand up to wear and tear and time ..and still be a place where the weary wanderer of the net can be attracted to and tarry a while ..and sample ones wares ..we hope .:)


12:37 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

btw leo, we aint all hobbits down here (i don't have hairy feet).


1:23 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

No ..but you are blessed with magic ..you have an elvish bride ..fortunate mortal ..:)


4:24 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Does anyone have any suggestions for multilingual SEO tools if someone wanted to try to optimize their own multilingual site, like the keyword selector?


11:22 am on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Google labs functions in many languages which can give you an idea of the trends in the way searches for your keywords are moving ..but if you are looking for the sort of "people who searched for this also searched for that" type tool?

Never seen one that was worth wasting the time spent typing a keyword into it ..especially not multilingual ..even G's "did you mean" facility that takes over when a mispelling is typed in falls down on easy non english mispellings ..

example ..type "sster" ..it will ask you did you mean "sister"..

however type "seur" ( which is the translation in french ..and it will give you instead a result in spanish ( because the word exists ) ..

one must type "seour" ( which is a mispelling but also a transposition ) before G will prompt you with did you mean "soeur"

BTW the first result for "seour" ( just below the "did you mean" ) comes from the urban dictionary ..the word "seour" is indeed used in the "snippet" and is "soeur" mispelt ..but the real error is that the text in the snippet should read "petite"..and not "petit" ..( beware of autotrans such as babel fish and online bi-lingual and other dictionaries and wiki's ) they are frequently wrong ..

Trying to SEO or translate into a language in which you do not "swim" from another in which you do not also "nage" will leave you stranded on the shores of confusion , washed up on the rocks of miscomprehension in the backwaters of the lousy serps ..

<voice off>"Essaie pas le mélange métaphorique d'expressions, ca ne te réussit pas"</voice off>

True ..mes excuses :)..the meaning of translation can get lost in geekworld ..

not to speak of the perils of translating bad poetry ..so I wont .

edited typo and added ""'s as the "voice off" was not mine ..but WebmasterWorld TOS prohibits one from linking to its owner

[edited by: Leosghost at 11:27 am (utc) on Jan. 11, 2007]


4:52 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Speaking of SEO for foreign languages, anyone have any opnions on whether it's worthwhile using tools like Wordtracker to do KW research for non-English words? Are their sources global, or only U.S./UK based?

Or are there other tools that anglo-centric SEO'ers might not be aware of?


5:17 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Use Adwords tool and the foreign language Overture tools (when they are working...).

Espotting used to have some foreign ones as well, but I never used them and the bookmarks I have don't work any more.


8:51 pm on Jan 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

i would treat overture with caution (as in any language)due to the content network and the fact that they collate statistics by measuring "like" words which means it can inflate results.

keyword discovery from trellian seems to do a reasonable job in Japan, Korea and china. I havent really used it for European languages.

Globally I would say Google, except in korea where market share is so low as to not count.


7:47 am on Jan 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>> i would treat overture with caution (as in any language)due to the content network and the fact that they collate statistics by measuring "like" words which means it can inflate results.

Well, of course, any keyword tool should be taken with very large grains of salt (including Google). OT is not only inaccurate because of the collation but also because some competitive areas are polluted deliberately or as a by-product of marketing searches.

But taking the tools together over time can give a good idea of what relative levels are. Of course one of the best ways is to invest some money in Adwords...


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