Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is nothing new to the marketing industry. In fact, since the mid-nineties SEO has played a critical role in many organisations’ online strategies but it was really the advent of Google in 1998 that transformed website optimisation into a full-time marketing role for those hoping to attract more visitors and, as a result, increase potential revenues to their sites.
Less than 30% of web users speak English as their first language
Despite the perceived dominance of English on the web, less than 30% of web users speak English as their first language and this figure is decreasing as more countries become digitally-enabled. This proves the need for multilingual websites in order for businesses to communicate effectively with their customers, however, without a clear SEO strategy, these websites are unlikely to attract the desired visitors and so sales targets are unlikely to be achieved.
With web searchers generally clicking on one of the top three listings in their search results, it is critical for a website to rank as highly as possible
With web searchers generally clicking on one of the top three listings in their search results, it is critical for a website to rank as highly as possible. By simply choosing the right keywords, businesses will see a great improvement in organic search rankings, which will in turn result in more traffic to their website. For this reason, multilingual SEO has become increasingly popular as a localisation service and with large enterprises now being expected to provide sites in more languages, the need for consultancy support around multilingual SEO, PPC, blog creation, etc. is growing rapidly. I make the point about consultancy because this isn’t something we can expect all buyers to be familiar with: website localisation and multilingual SEO should go hand in hand but, in our experience, this isn’t always the case. We have seen wonderfully presented and localised websites generate little interest because market-specific keywords were not implemented. It is therefore the responsibility of the LSP to advise their customers on the ineffectiveness of basic translations of keyword terms and explain the importance of carrying out keyword research to find the most lucrative target language keywords.
SEO in any language is an ever-evolving skill – rules and strategies are changing daily
So it’s clear that LSPs needs to advise their customers correctly on what is required in order to increase visitor numbers to their multilingual websites but what role do linguists play? Linguists need to be capitalising on this opportunity by getting up to speed with the skills needed to fulfil these projects. SEO in any language is an ever-evolving skill – rules and strategies are changing daily due to competitor activity and search engine providers modifying the parameters around what will help and hinder rankings. If SEO translators don’t keep themselves up to date with such changes, they will soon find the provision of this service difficult. Some linguists, however, are very excited by this huge opportunity, which offers a specialised way of working and additional skills to add to their repertoires. Rather than being viewed as a supplier, the linguist has the chance to be viewed within the industry as a consultant.
The responsibility for increasing knowledge around multilingual SEO skills falls into two camps: Firstly, on the LSP to provide clear instructions and guidance for both customers and linguists, and secondly, on the linguist to not only, have genuine desire to learn about optimisation, but also the willingness to adhere to the instructions is essential.
So as ranking highly on the World Wide Web becomes more and more competitive, LSPs will see the demand for multilingual SEO services increase and linguists promoting their technical marketing experience will need to stay abreast of changes in digital marketing to ensure that they don’t get left behind as SEO continues to evolve.