Translation and SEO or Search Engine Optimization are two very different skillsets.

Translation and search engine optimisation are two very different skills. Superficially, they seem to have very little in common. Nevertheless, it’s not just useful that translators also know SEO; we would say it’s a necessity. Translation has a habit of losing content along the way. Literary writers often complain how the subtext of their work is lost in another language. In a way, SEO is not that different from literary subtext: it’s present beneath the surface, it has a huge impact on the text and at the same time – when done well – it’s invisible. When you want to have your website translated into other languages, SEO is hugely important. After all, it’s what makes your site visible to the audience. A translation can be excellent in its own right while still losing track of SEO best practices. The result is a great copy that nobody reads. Conversely, a translator with the necessary expertise can actually improve on the SEO of the translated version compared to the original.

Keep in mind that there is a substantial difference in the popularity of keywords per language. Let’s say that the keyword “wooden staircase” is a popular search on Google. In that case, if your website is about staircases, it would be wise to use these words together in the English copy. But what if the French translation “escalier en bois” is almost never entered? It would be pointless from an SEO viewpoint to simply translate your English website. The translator should in that case pick a different keyword that is popular in French and make sure the page uses it frequently and in the right places.

SEO and copywriting are complex balancing acts. Professionals should strive for a maximally effective result on the technical side of SEO, never sacrificing the need for a fluent, pleasantly readable and informative copy. Translation of that copy returns those challenges but the best answers to them may be different than they were in the original language.