In this blog series, we discuss terms and phrases often used by LSPs (language service providers) that form common industry parlance on both the buy and supply sides. Note that these are not specific to any LSP, nor is it our purpose to put down our peers and claim high ground (indeed, I am guilty of these myself more often than not).
Sometimes, some of these terms and phrases are so second nature or clichéd, that someone might use one without actually meaning it completely. This post hopes that you, the buyer, will stop when you hear one of these terms or phrases, ponder what is actually meant, and ask the right questions that will help you avoid any painful misunderstandings.
You can read our earlier post in the series on the use of the word “localization”.
What LSPs say
“We also offer SEO localization as a service.”
What LSPs mean
“We will take a list of your keywords and have them translated into multiple languages, without the need for any of that expensive local market research.”
Why it matters
SEO is a relatively new and exciting field, much like localization was 10 years ago. As the localization industry slowly creeps out of its awkward teen years towards maturity, SEO is still very much in its adolescence. One could be tempted to think of SEO localization as simply translating some keywords, but it is so much more than this. You must beware of underestimating the complexities involved before getting started.
In reality, managing SEO has a lot of similarities with managing localization. Both are very complex disciplines that are not well understood outside of the agencies that specialize in them. Both SEO and localization walk a fine line between being data-driven and quantifiable, and requiring a great deal of creativity. The most meaningful parallel I can draw, though, is that these are both practices that are often neglected until it is too late.
All too often, both localization and SEO are treated as after-thoughts, something to be tacked on after the product is already launched. Forward-thinking organizations know that SEO and localization — and localizing SEO — are things to start planning from day one.
Failing to plan is planning to fail
Why is planning so important? Because just like you’re authoring your English content in a way that maximizes discoverability, you’ll want to make sure that your translations are doing the same in different markets. This can only be achieved if you do your research beforehand, and make sure that each translator is armed with the information they need to incorporate this SEO perspective into their translations.
I’m not trying to scare anybody away here, but search discoverability can make or break a new company, and is only becoming more and more vital as search technology is constantly evolving. Many companies realize this and see the potential in SEO, yet sadly, few companies are willing to make the necessary investment.
Other companies think that localized SEO is simply a matter of translating some keywords for each language. This is a tempting misconception because translating keywords is cheaper than full SEO localization.
Localization vendors can help guide you through the quagmire of multilingual SEO, just as they guide you through the localization process. However, you do need to make sure that the vendor’s SEO is based on market research, and not just the translation of the English keywords.
Learn more: The 3 Absolutes for Multilingual SEO Success
Here are some questions to get the SEO conversation with your LSP steered in the right direction:
- What is your process for localizing SEO?
- What other clients have you worked with on SEO?
- Can you tell us more about how that was managed?
- What metrics are you using to track ROI on SEO?
- Do you have any case studies that show quantifiable results from SEO localization?