When you decide to translate your website for a global audience, it’s pretty obvious that you’ll need to localize the content into the languages you’ve chosen. But there are some important “behind the scenes" elements that need to get changed or added as well. Before you launch, make sure you’ve checked these six important website translation best practices off your list.
1) Add country- and language-specific meta data
Search engine ranking algorithms are a closely guarded secret, but it’s common knowledge that meta data (also called meta tags) are an important piece of the puzzle when getting your site to the top of the rankings. When you localize your website content, make sure your translation agency specifies the language and country within the meta data to improve search engine optimization (SEO).
2) Use translatable URLs
Another key tactic for improving SEO for your translated sites is to make sure you use URLs (also referred to as your web address) that are readable and translatable by search engines within your target languages and markets. And while Google is the preferred search engine for 80% of web users, if you’re going into markets where another engine is preferred—like China, Korea, or Russia—you’ll want to make sure that your translation partner knows how to tailor your URLs for those markets as well.
3) Use county-coded top-level domains and in-country hosting services
This goes hand-in-hand with translatable URLs. If you’re going into more “closed" internet markets, and China in particular, your site may not be accessible at all, or may not be indexed by local search engines, if you don’t have the right IP address.
4) Offer users a tool to select their preferred language
While geo-targeting allows you to automatically serve up web pages in the local language of your web visitors, it’s not wise to rely on geo-targeting alone. You can make your website more inviting to travelers and non-native speakers by offering a language selector tool so that they can easily choose their preferred language.
5) Leverage multilingual XML sitemaps
An XML sitemap is an easy and automated way to let search engines know about all the pages and posts available on your site for improved SEO. When you start targeting multiple languages and countries, customizing your XML sitemaps for each helps search engines return results in the correct language.
6) Use hreflang tags so search engines don’t get your multiple sites confused
If you have content in English that’s applicable across languages and markets, use the hreflang tag to help search engines index your sites by specifying which language you are targeting with each page. This helps avoid pages competing with each other, and also improves Google search results by displaying the appropriate content within the appropriate market.
This list of six tips is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to website translation success. For even more helpful insights on planning and executing website translation projects, check out our recent Marketing Profs webinar: