International Keywords: Research, don’t translate them.
Integro clients are always asking us great questions, and “can you translate keywords?” comes up a fair bit. In a world where digital is key, and where search engine optimisation (SEO) is pretty much vital in an online company’s success, keywords are never far from our minds. Of course, it’s natural that businesses doing well in their domestic market will want to expand internationally, but this means making your keywords international too! While this is no easy feat, it is not as scary as it sounds, especially with Integro to help you along the way!
Now, a lot of translation companies offer keyword translations, and suggest that it’s an easy process: you provide them with your list of English keywords, and a linguist will translate these into your target language. Unfortunately, it isn’t this straightforward and paying someone to do this will probably be a big waste of your time and money.
The whole point of keywords is that they reflect the search terms that people are using in your target market, which means they aren’t going to be exact translations of what people are searching for in your domestic market. Different cultures will have different needs, expectations and ways of searching for a particular product or service, meaning that a simple linguistic translation your English keywords will be ineffective. Because of this, it is important that you conduct keyword research in each of the target markets you are looking to break into. Keyword research will reveal every search term and phrase that potential customers are using to discover products and services like yours, as well as showing the search volume and the level of competition for each term, so you know which are worth spending your money on.
This means that, in reality, your English keywords can be pretty irrelevant to foreign markets. Keywords will vary massively from market to market. In any country, search terms will cover a variety of different interest areas, ranging from terms related to product names, terms related to brands, terms related to price (i.e. cheapest, best value, free, free trial) and quality (best, premium), as well as terms related to competitor brand names. Not only will these vary from market to market, so will the priority of each of these things as different cultures have different priorities. This will probably help you to see why a linguist is essential. Only a native speaker, in or from your target market can understand the minds and the buying culture of your chosen market. They will know what those clients value, the intent of a certain search term and how likely any particular search is to indicate an interest in the product or service you offer. Keyword research will uncover a lot of irrelevant terms and information, uncovering a range of both short and long tail keyword results, and only a native speaking linguist will understand which of these are relevant or useful and how they might be used.
The other reason we’re so glad to have clients ask “can you translate keywords” is that at least thinking about the keywords that matter for your target market is such a vital thing to do. Any good web designer will tell you that before you build your English site, you should know the keywords that you’re aiming for. So, of course, if you’re going to translate the site, you should start by knowing the keywords, search habits and the range of terms that are actually being searched for, before doing the translation. Without it, you’ll be making the standard mistake of assuming that consumers abroad act in the same way as consumers here. As a result of all this, you will need the help of a specialist international marketing translation company, such as Integro. Integro’s expert team will produce a competition analysis for you, reviewing the language, business model, positioning and pricing of your competitors in your target market, to determine how difficult they are to compete with and what steps you need to take to do so. Just get in touch using the form below.