Companies that are serious about expanding into international markets will eventually come to realize that the transcreation of their websites and marketing communications is critical to success in many regions around the world.
English is no longer the dominant language of the internet and consumers in countries where English is not the official language show a strong bias towards localized content. In fact, many of these users report avoiding websites entirely if they are not accurately translated into their native language.
However, many businesses ignore transcreation when it comes to their on-page SEO strategies – choosing instead to translate their source keywords directly into the target language without considering local keyword volumes, user intent and, in many cases, not conducting keyword research in their target market.
Most people know that machine translation of their source content isn’t going to result in high-quality translations, but many businesses still think that having content in another language, even its been translated by machine, is going to improve their SEO. Unfortunately for them, this is not the case.
John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, stated on its product forum in 2010 that sites using Google Translate and machine translation in general, is not going to allow brands to produce content that is well received by the search engine.
He said that “in general, when we determine that a page contains only auto-generated content, we may remove it from our index. If we determine that the largest part of a site consists of auto-generated content (such as when it’s automatically translated and crawled & indexed like that for several languages), then we may opt to remove the whole site from the index. This may sound a bit harsh, but auto-generated content that is created for search engines is a really bad idea and a waste of our resources.
In other words, Google sees content translated by machine as duplicate content and is likely to de-index machine translated content that make its way into Google’s search results.
So companies should always use human translators to produce accurate translations of their source material in order to rank highly on search engines. But to really succeed in search, brands should transcreate their content and here are the reasons why.
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1. Truly unique content
Content that is transcreated is truly unique since it is developed with the target audience in mind and in many cases is quite different from the source text.
With search engines and machine translation tools becoming more sophisticated, it makes sense to create truly unique content for every page on your site and transcreation allows you to do this effectively.
2. Higher click-through rates
By crafting your page titles and meta descriptions to appeal to users in your target market, you can enjoy higher click-through rates from organic search traffic. This in turn sends the right signals to search engines to let them know that your content is relevant to the search query, encouraging them to place your content higher in search results.
3. Reduced bounce rate
If users arrive on your site from search engines only to return a few seconds later, this sends entirely the wrong signals to search engines. It lets them know that your content is irrelevant or of low quality and this might force search engines to demote your site in their results pages.
So, reducing bounce rate is key to informing search engines of the quality of your content and building authority in your niche. Website localization and transcreation of the source content to appeal to users in local markets can help in significantly reducing bounce rates.
4. Increased dwell time
The more engaging your content is, the more time users will spend on your site and like bounce rate, increased dwell times send signals to search engines to let them know that your content is relevant and useful to users.
5. Repeat visits
Repeat visits to your site not only send quality signals to search engines but directly impact your positions for the personalized search results. Both Google and Bing deliver personalized results for logged in users which often ranks sites much higher than their default natural search positions for users that have previously interacted with your site. The more repeats visits to your site from these users, the higher your site appears on future, related searches.
6. More social sharing
Whether social sharing directly affects SEO has been a matter of discussion in the industry. Some studies have shown a link between social shares and search engine positions but many critics have suggested that it is merely a correlation and not the cause.
Google itself went from stating that its algorithm does not use social signals in May 2010 to suggesting that it does in December 2010 before backtracking and revealing that it doesn’t again in January 2014.
Whether you agree or disagree, social sharing still indirectly helps your SEO by increasing the likelihood of your content being found, shared again or linked to from other sites on the internet. And transcreated content, which is adapted to suit the preferences and behaviour of users in the target market, is much more likely to be shared.
7. More relevant backlinks
Increasing the number of high-quality, relevant backlinks (links to your site) is an important element of SEO strategy. Many SEOs believe that link signals are the strongest signals available to Google to determine quality and relevance.
It is important to receive backlinks from high-quality sites in the target country since this reinforces relevance to users in the region. Transcreation allows brands to develop content that users can relate to which encourages social sharing as mentioned above and increases the likelihood of links to the site appearing in local news and on relevant blogs in the local area.
8. Increased trust and authority
Search engines don’t reveal their secrets so no one knows exactly how they calculate and rank sites based on authority but all SEOs are in agreement that authority signals exist and are in use. Types, quality and relevance on inbound links, bounce rates, dwell time and repeat visits are all believed to contribute to a lesser or greater extent to trust and authority. Positive reviews and sentiment online could also be contributing factors.
Poor translations certainly impact negatively on trust and authority but even the more accurate translations often fail to capture the desired persuasive or emotive spirit of the original text. For content to really travel and succeed in building trust and authority, it needs to be transcreated.
9. Higher conversion rates
The entire purpose of SEO is to drive conversions which could mean leads, sales or file downloads, depending on your business model. So, a well-thought-out SEO strategy would focus on the site’s objectives as part of the overall business strategy. A site’s conversion rates is an extremely important KPI for determining effective search marketing tactics and every business should include some sort of conversion metric to measure success.
Transcreation, including the adaptation of not only copy but images, logos, symbols and colours, is proven to increase engagement and conversion rates in local markets. By working with a dedicated transcreation team, businesses can build, test and optimize their digital offering in the target market, improving on all the metrics previously mentioned to deliver a successful SEO and conversion rate optimization strategy in overseas markets.