Don’t Just Translate Websites, Also Apply Global SEO Best Practices

As an international search engine optimization (SEO) expert, I have the privilege of traveling the world since I get invited to speak at conferences and teach workshops around the globe. Besides doing what I love and getting to meet interesting people, I greatly enjoy experiencing new places and foreign cultures. In the recent past, I’ve been speaking quite a bit at localization and translation-related industry events. Recent speaking engagements took me to Israel, Romania, Greece, the UK, and Amsterdam, Holland where I gave a keynote entitled Boost Global Sales with Multilingual and International Search Engine Optimization at XTM LIVE Europe. Global SEO is a hot topic these days and my schedule continues to fill up with new and exciting speaking engagements.

With all that said, I’m still surprised (actually a bit shocked) how few language services provides (LSPs) have jumped on the opportunity to also provide international SEO services as part of their website localization solutions. When I talk about the topic at these conferences, my sessions are usually packed and I end up having great conversations over dinner and at the networking sessions. Many of the LSPs that attended my session then ensure me how important this topic is to them and for their customers. Yet, the majority of LSPs still seem to drag their feet when it comes to getting serious about it. They certainly know it’s important but for some reason hesitate to act on the opportunity to start to offering multilingual SEO to their customers. Yes, being able to offer global search engine optimization to their customers means that they either have to learn how to do it or team up with a strategic partner who can be brought in to ensure that the customer receives what they are paying for. Not only is there real money to be made but more importantly, by not offering these services I honestly think that the LSP is doing a disservice to their website translation customer. Based on a number of conversations that I had with customers of LSPs, they actually thought that their website translation project also included multilingual SEO.

Think about it this way, businesses today can spend a lot of money on their English (or other source languages) SEO strategy, but they may not even think about having an international SEO (ISEO) strategy after getting the website localized. Here’s where you, as LSPs, can help educate your customers about the importance of ISEO.

While I’ve seen an uptick in requests for international SEO training from customer-side companies, I’d be thrilled to see an increase in requests from localization companies. If you’re with an LSP and would like to start the conversation, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

To encourage you to take a closer look at this opportunity, please find following some information that may get your attention:

Upsell Opportunity: On-page Global SEO and Multilingual Content Marketing Services

Getting Started with International SEOJust as with English content, multilingual content is also fighting to land at the top of search engine results pages. According to a Common Sense Advisory Report, for a website to reach 80% of the global online audience, it needs to be translated into 12 languages. To reach 90%, it takes 21 languages. And a monolingual website won’t even reach a quarter of the world’s internet users. Clearly there’s a need for multilingual content, and in turn, with all of that content, companies need to have a plan to land organically at the top of search engine results pages. Nearly 75% of all clicks in the search engines will go to the top three organic search results. Newly localized websites will have to compete with other websites that may be hosted in the target country, have been around much longer, etc. If no SEO best practices are applied, there’s a very slim chance that the website will achieve high rankings in the search engines.

Here’s where LSPs have an opportunity to upsell and offer ISEO services in order to help their clients’ customers find the businesses. Just as clients are doing for their English content, you can offer ISEO services for their multilingual content. This service naturally falls into the area of LSP because it’s about language, and who better to do that than an LSP? However, businesses may not know or think about this amazing opportunity to grow, so it’s up to you to explain the importance of ISEO and what it can mean.

Many companies will author and publish content such as blog posts, press releases, case studies and white papers in English only. So make sure to talk to your customer and let them know that by translating and optimizing this kind of content, their multilingual websites could get a boost in the search engines.

International SEO has become quite involved and pretty technical but here’s the good thing: You don’t need to know everything there is to know. As long as you’re able to help your customer perform keyword research for SEO, then transcreate the keywords (I’ll talk more about this just below), and perform basic on-page optimization tasks, you’ll already do them a huge favor. Here’s additional information about the international SEO process.

Example of How ISEO Can Impact a Business

Let’s assumes that a business ranks as #1 organically for a specific keyword on Google in the United States. Let’s also assume that 33,000 people are searching for this keyword on a monthly basis. Adding in some numbers:

  • With 33,000 monthly keyword searches and an average 35% click-through rate (CTR) for a #1 rank in Google, that means 11,585 site visitors per month in relation to that keyword
  • Using a 2.5% conversion rate, meaning the percentage that people convert to customers, that’s 290 new customers
  • If an average purchase is $100, that means $29,000 in new revenue

Now let’s assume that a business localized and properly optimized their website into four languages and the total search volume for that particular keyword in the four languages is a combined 100,000. If the localized website would also achieve a #1 ranking in the search engines for all four languages, that could mean:

  • 100,000 people in the four languages perform monthly searches and a 35% CTR for a total of 35,000 site visitors
  • Using a 2.5% conversion rate, that means 875 new customers
  • With a $100 average purchase, that means $87,500 in new revenue

So by implementing an ISEO strategy, the company could dramatically increase their revenue in a month! The above assumptions only looked at one keyword so you can imaging the opportunities that present themselves by implementing a winning ISEO strategy. And you can help your customers do this!

Transcreating Keywords

ISEO is a similar process to SEO but with a few distinct differences. You take the English keywords, but you don’t just translate them word for word – you have to transcreate the words, which involves doing keyword research in the target languages by professional, native-speaking linguists who are trained in the art of SEO. Once you have transcreated the keywords, you use them strategically in the content of the target language and throughout your on-page optimization efforts (meta tags, hyperlinking, keyword placement in content, etc.). For additional information, make sure to read a guide entitled An Introduction to International SEO Keyword Research and the Transcreation Process.


There’s much more to the topic of ISEO, but since I can only scratch the surface here, I also invite you to view this hour-long webinar that I co-presented:

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can answer any questions you may have or if you’d like to talk shop.