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Keywords and Special Characters for a Translated Site

Use the exact word with special characters or no?

     
7:44 pm on Sep 19, 2001 (gmt 0)

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After reading some of the excellent threads in this forum about translation, I am toying with the idea of translating some sites/pages for additional traffic and link pop.

However I am a little confused about special characters. This was touched on in a few posts, but I need more understanding. Once you find your target keywords, and let's assume they have special/accented/non-English characters, what do you use for SEO and body text? Do you use the exact word for that language, or the closest English-character equivalent?

I have seen a couple posts that state people often search for the closest English-character equivalent, but other posts suggests many have their own language keyboard. I'm a little confused, but it would seem you don't want to optimize for the exact, proper term. That would then make the body text improper, right? I also noted another post that suggested building English-character "feeder" pages to the proper character pages, which is a little more than I would like to get into.

Am I making this harder than it has to be? (I do that sometimes.) What is the best route to take, for SEO, and proper translated pages?

9:18 pm on Sept 19, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Hey Drastic
This is a complex thing since a lot of different languages are involved. For the major languages (i.e. spoken by tens or hundreds of millions) like french and german using specific characters IMO is highly advisable. Three reasons:
- National SEs do not always treat both versions as the same search. Example:
"Möller" and "Moeller". You get the same serps in Google but very different ones in Fireball.de, an important german engine.
- Users will be appalled by a page not using language specific characters.
- Sometimes special characters make for a difference in meaning!

In urls it´s not really possible until now to use special characters, which gives you the possibility to work in the closest ASCII version of the words. Also you could work them in in meta desc. and meta KW.

I`m not sure about the situation for languages like danish or swedish, but we do have experts here!

12:07 am on Sept 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

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The danish equivalent to Müller would be Møller. Checking on 2 spiderbased search engines I get:

Opasia.dk - Google.dk db:

møller 84600
moeller 3590

Kvasir.dk - FAST filthered db:

møller 72952
moeller 1866

Conclusion so far, local engines recognize the local version of the special characters. Here mØller is the right.

>Do you use the exact word for that language, or the closest English-character equivalent?

The searches show that the engines see exact words. The English-character equivalent yields fewer results.

I would try to make the prober format into code if possible. That would be to insert 'Ø' and not '&oslas;'. However in my experience the html format '%oslah' would be picked up in most cases.
HTML code for danish letters altered to reflect difference - they can't be copy/pasted as is

3:52 pm on Sept 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

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As usual, excellent European advice from 'learned members' - thank you.

I am wondering if an apostrophe is classed as an 'ascii character'?

Specifically, I am thinking of reserving a .com domain for an impending French and German SEO campaign. What would be the best course of action if the French phrase domain should really contain an apostrophe - ie. 'l'ecole'.

I assume that if this character cannot be included in a .com domain the only alternative is to simply omit it entirely ie. lecole?

4:10 pm on Sept 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

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the following should be of use...I find them all invaluable

[ppeph.gla.ac.uk ]

[w3.org ]

[hclrss.demon.co.uk ]

[cs.tut.fi ]

4:21 pm on Sept 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Different engines appear to treat this differently and we have as yet no comprehensive list of who doeas what. Some (simpler engines) will simply strip accents, dots and anything else away to reach the nearest a-z, 0-9 ASCII equivalent. Others (more advanced) are very particular about accents. Simple test: Try these two. One is an English word for a type of leather, the other one the French word for Sweden. If you get the same result, then the engine strips accents. If not, then you know.

suede
suède

4:44 pm on Sept 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

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>closest ASCII version of the words

Shot in the dark, having just started reading on XML. Brief excerpt from HTML4 Unleashed:

"The ENCODING declaration identifies the character set in which the document is coded. Unlike HTML, which favored ASCII, XML favors Unicode, which allows foreign character sets to be used far more easily than in HTML."

Possible that XML has usefulness for translations?

6:01 pm on Sept 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Having searched on MSN.fr and AV.fr for a while I have yet to see a domain which uses aphostrophe's where they should, or, obviously accented characters.

I think I would tend to optimise pages for really important keyphrases for both the 'accented' and 'non-accented' versions of the phrase, much like a English 'misspelling' of a key search term.

It was the aphostrophe in domains that was specifically perplexing me as I think a 'direct' translation of the English domain should really include this. Obviously, this 'direct' translation would be valid from both linguistic and cultural perspectives. I may approach a 'domain broker' I deal with and see if they have any thoughts on this.

7:48 pm on Sept 20, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Mark,
for urls in french it appears the most common way is - as you said - leaving the apostrophe out. Example:
"www.lequipe.fr" about "L'Equipe".
I also saw domains hyphenating the space that would be taken by the apostrophe.
In the body text however I would stick to the apostrophe: french users would surely type the term in any engine with the apostrophe.

Marcia, unicode will become more important as the globalization of the web proceeds at great speed. The ability to represent character sets like cyrillic for example makes it the inevitable choice. With translations however I see no real advantage using unicode. A website translation uses the targeted language and it´s characters, it doesn´t have to care for readability in other language areas with different character sets. But perhaps I´m missing your point (happens sometimes :) ) - what advantages did you have in mind?

10:27 am on Aug 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Ok, I've read the thread and I'm a little unclear on something. I'm working on pages for a Norwegian company which is operating on a gas field whose name has a special character in it.

What is the best approach to this? -

1: Optimise keywords with special character.
2: Optimise without special character.
3: Optimise with both

I believe using the third option will reduce amount of repititions I can use on the gas fields name, as I understand 3 is the agreed maximum to use in one page's keywords - UNLESS using the english-character nearest equivalent means the keyword is perceived as different by the Search Engines and not the same?

Any help appreciated!

11:30 am on Aug 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Hi richmc - welcome to the board

>as I understand 3 is the agreed maximum to use in one page's keywords

Wouldn't say so...that is if you're not referring to the meta tag keywords, which is of limited importance anyway.

Your third option - give the engines both - is the best, if you target all engines, international and local.

11:36 am on Aug 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

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thanks for the advice heini :-)
11:39 am on Aug 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

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oh, and yeah, i am refering to meta keywords.

throughout body text of article the Norwegian proper form is used, and I guess mixing both up in the text is gonna look really bad so i'm avoiding it ;-)

1:28 pm on Aug 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Well you got the title, meta desc., alt txts, headers, anchor txts, internal linkage...lots of opportunities
 

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