• Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & International Marketing

SEO Translations for More International Success

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 4 min read
SEO Translations for More International Success


Translate SEO texts for better international search results and to make it easier for people to find you in every language. For successful international SEO, a good translation agency understands the need to localise and translate content in an effective and measured manner. Google implores the owners of websites to provide high-quality, accurate translations that portray the company and website in as accurate a way possible, no matter the language.

Why is international SEO important?

The whole purpose of international SEO is to ensure that both humans and search engines understand what your website is talking about in multiple languages. From your point of view a translation is first aimed at accuracy so that a search engine picks up an accurate account of the content on page, attracting your target market in the process. Once the target market has been reached, the second point of translation is to increase conversion rates in the same way that copy is written in your native language.

The Right Translation of Keywords and the importance of Keyword Research

In order to be successful with international translation and SEO for different target markets across the world, keyword research becomes an even more vital part of the process. Keywords are not just words in themselves. They instead provide a core concept for ideas and topics. In some cases, a keyword that makes sense in one language might not have a direct translation into a different language or it might have a completely different stylistic and cultural significance, including potentially carrying offence. Another part of SEO translation and keyword research is that the use of synonyms will change in different languages and the context they are used in. This is where thorough and well thought out SEO translation services are needed, understanding the nuance of translation and not just relying on a direct word-for-word translation.

Tips for international keyword research include:

  • Have a native speaker involved in the keyword research to understand nuance and cultural context.
  • Analyse competitors in the target market for valuable insight into conversion tactics
  • Understand target market language by looking at customer reviews and feedback
  • Always think about seasonal trends and peak periods

Pro Tip: Set Rules and Stick to It

“Once you understand the target market and have conducted thorough keyword research, considering all of the above points, you need to consider what rules you are going to set and then stick to them. Habits might be different in your target country to your own, so always consider how you can use social media to reach your target audience, how backlinks work in multilingual markets, what content strategy is most likely to be successful in your target market, and how your domain name should read. Also, consider that Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) might look different in different countries. Try out search queries in different languages. Once you have out this together, stick to the plan and have courage in your convictions.” - Jeroen van den Engel - Marketingmanager at Vertaalbureau Perfect / Translation Agency Perfect

Create The Right Structure for Headings and Subheadings

The structure of headings and subheadings is an essential part of an SEO plan because it helps to break down the content into easily manageable sections that are logical and make sense. It creates a hierarchy that is clear for search engines to understand and highlights what the main topic and the keywords are for both the search engines crawling the page and for readers. Use a H1 tag for the main title, and then H2 through to H6 tags for subheadings. Headings should be concise and relevant to the keywords and the target audience. The best structure and timeline are as follows:

  • Keyword research
  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • Headings and subheadings H1, H2, H3 etc.
  • Content body
  • Keyword placement
  • Addition of internal and external links
  • Optimisation of images
  • Mobile-friendly design
  • Page loading speed
  • User engagement
  • Social media integration

Translate SEO title, meta description, all Images and Alt-Texts

The original native language content for meta description and SEO title needs to be translated for other target markets in different languages. Image alt tags are also an important part of the process so you should also translate these into your target language alongside all other translations. Hover over the image that you want to work with and edit the alt text. You should also consider potentially changing the image completely for the new target audience, depending on the cultural significance and context of the images. Ensuring accurate translation of meta information makes it more likely that Google’s search engine will pick up your content and rank it.

Internal links are vital in establishing connections between relevant information and topics within your website. This helps an audience to discover what they need beyond the page they are looking at and helps to engage the target audience and to retain users on site for as long as possible. Correct internal links also helps to eliminate broken links and redirection loops. Internal links helps to enhance the user experience, as it builds a picture of what your website can do for the user. They help to build positive engagement metrics, drive conversion rates and build your website architecture. A network of good internal links gives crawlers a better chance to be effective and accurate and helps to spread link equity throughout the entire site.

Create Good Readable URLs

Although Google is pretty flexible with how it allows for different structures of URLs for a multilingual site, there are still some things you should be aware of, little tips that will help. You should choose from one of three URL structures:

  • Subdirectories for each language – for example yourwebsitename.com/nl
  • A subdomain for each language – for example nl.yourwebsitename.com
  • Or a domain name that is country specific – for example yourwebsitename.nl for Dutch visitors or yourwebsite.com for English visitors

Getting it right when creating a multilingual website involves a few different processes. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and careful planning to be successful with SEO for your native language and target market. SEO translation ensures that your content is accessible to users who speak a different language, whilst also improving the search site rankings in that language.

Felix Rose-Collins

Felix Rose-Collins


is the Co-founder of Ranktracker, With over 10 years SEO Experience. He's in charge of all content on the SEO Guide & Blog, you will also find him managing the support chat on the Ranktracker App.

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