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Stay in Control: How to Add SEO to Your Localization Process and Keep Automation


8 min read

Written by


Paulina Makles

Published on

07 Jan 2022

SEO localization lies at the border of digital marketing and localization – and takes what’s best from both worlds. But it’s more complicated than just adding keywords to your content. There’s a gap between how these two worlds function and managing SEO localization can become a strain on your project management team.

In this post, we explain how to utilize standard localization tools to streamline the process that includes content optimization.

Leverage your translation memories – but in a new way

At first glance, it might seem like using translation memories (TMs) won’t help you keep your optimized content organized. There’ll be deviations from the source, words or phrases without equivalents, and differences in sentence structure. And keeping track of what has been changed can become a struggle and make the process more manual than desired.

But if you think outside the box TMs can help you a lot. Consider dividing your TMs into two groups: pre-optimization and post-optimization. 

There are several good reasons to do that: 

  1. First, you are able to track your localization teams’ performance and reap the usual benefits of TM leveraging.
  2. Second, you have a clear view of what has been changed in the optimization process and can track keyword performance.

Keeping everything in your CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tool and/or TMS (Translation Management System) of choice is essential to maintaining consistency and keeping the process automated. SEO can seem like something not made to fit into the standard localization process, but it’s fairly easy to mold it so it does.

If your SEO team is not the same team that does the localization, they will probably have little to no idea how the localization process works. Let’s look at an example. 

Say you have a web page that you translated into Spanish. You want your Spanish SEO specialist to optimize it. Normally, an SEO expert will expect a monolingual file, possibly delivered via email.  They would then edit and send back to you, probably with track changes. But if you want to then sync it with that “post-optimization” TM you set up, you are in for a long and manual process. 

Instead of succumbing to manual elements of content optimization, add a step in your automated process where the localized files are automatically sent to your SEO team in a bilingual format. SEO magicians do the optimization in the target, files get uploaded back to a separate TM, and you sleep soundly knowing that you have full control over the process.

If you have a localization partner who can also manage the SEO part of optimization that’s even better. They can automatically store your localized content in one translation memory and the optimized content in another with no exports or changes in workflow.

The good old glossary

Glossaries have been a part of the localization process since the beginning and even with something as relatively new as SEO localization, they still come in handy.

To put it simply, content optimization is editing the localized content and adding relevant keywords throughout. Keyword lists are created through research of phrases and terms that users are searching for in a particular target market. Each of the keywords will have an average monthly search volume assigned to them so you know if it’s something your clients are looking for. You should also have a back translation for each of the keywords so you know it is relevant to your brand.

Do you see the resemblance?

A keyword list is no different than a simple glossary comprising of a keyword, its back translation, and search volume. This is a  simple view for your team to use, instead of a bulky spreadsheet they have to comb through to find keywords that are relevant. If your localization team is fluent in content optimization, you can plug the glossaries into your CAT tool. Otherwise, you can utilize this solution to maintain your marketing terminology.

You can easily update the list, manage various keywords lists for different content types or topics, create and review reports on keywords use, and keep consistency across all your content. Sometimes the simplest solutions work best. 

Language quality assurance (LQA) steps will benefit from having keyword lists segregated into glossaries as well – LQA reviewers will have access to the list of used keywords that should not be changed or tampered with at the quality check stage.

Add organic traffic to your KPIs

When dealing with SEO localization, language quality is just one of the metrics you should be tracking. To have insight into how your content performs, you should consider monitoring your website’s organic traffic as well. 

Organic traffic is the number of people that find you through a simple search: so not through ads or through typing your website address into the address box of their browser. How you optimize – and if you optimize – your content will vitally influence how your website ranks in search results.

There are a variety of tools available in the market to check how your traffic changes – and you can check how specific keywords you use in your content impact the long term. Consider using Google Analytics for websites optimized for Google; Ahrefs or SEMRush will help you with websites optimized for the Russian market (Yandex) and China (Baidu) as well.

Uncharted land, discovered

Remember that content optimization will not yield visible results immediately – give it several months before you decide to change your process. A well-prepared keyword list is the cornerstone of content marketing strategy and should be consistently used throughout what you put out online.

You will discover that you can easily divert your local users’ attention straight to your localized website, greet them with content that is relevant to their needs and convert them into loyal buyers.

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