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How to Translate a Website for Accuracy and SEO [2024]

Want to learn how to translate a website professionally? Translating websites for accuracy and SEO is not as complicated as you might assume.

However, there are a couple of important matters to keep in mind when you’re translating a website or webpages for the best accuracy and SEO. There is a bit more involved than simply installing a language translation plug-in within your WordPress CMS and calling it localization. This is for several good reasons.

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Below, we discuss why it’s important to find the best way to translate a website for accuracy and SEO. Then, we’ll let you in on what those steps are. This will save you time, money and headache, and it will help you most effectively translate your website into different languages.

Best Way to Translate a Website for Accuracy

best way to translate a website
The best way to translate a website for accuracy is by doing it right the first time, even if it takes a more well-thought-out process.

After all, if you’re going to put time and money into translating your webpage content, you want to make sure the outcome is of the highest quality possible. This way, you won’t need to start over again in the future.

If you skimp on the translation process, you risk losing a lot of your existing work on establishing branding, voice, value propositions, and product (or service) descriptions.

Here’s the best method for translating a website for accuracy (and time savings), in a step-by-step approach:

1. Upload Your Webpage Content to a Translation Management System

The best way to translate a website for accuracy while saving time in the long run involves uploading your webpage content to a cloud-based translation management system.

Why Use a Translation Management System?

A translation management system will use the speed and intelligence of machine translation (and translation memory) to create a first-draft translation of your website content for you within just seconds or minutes. This saves you time on a large chunk of the translation.

Next, a human translator must make edits to the machine-translated content within the system, since machine translation is never going to be as good as human translation.

The benefits of a translation management system are:

  • Saves time & money spent on a first draft of the translation so that a human translator can focus on properly translating voice and specialized terms
  • Translation management systems use Translation Memory (see video below*) to save your company’s human-edited words and phrases from the first draft translation so that you never need to translate the same sentence twice
  • When you make tweaks across your websites in the future, the system will help cut down on the amount of time it takes to do so, since you’ll already have your existing translations stored in the system. It will identify in seconds what has been previously translated and what has been changed or added so you only need to focus on new content translation

Certain systems will output your translation in HTML format if that’s the format of the file you uploaded, making it easy to import content to new websites.

*Learn about Translation Memory in this 2-minute video:

Connecting Your CMS Via API to a Translation Management System

Connecting your website/content management system via API to a translation management system (TMS) will allow you to pull any previous translations that may already exist in your Translation Memories (TM). Any content that has not been translated would be generated with machine translation. You can then edit your web content and return and save that to your TM’s as well.

Our Recommendation for a Translation Management System

You can easily see how a translation management system is the best way to translate a website for accuracy. Not only this, but it will also help with consistency and time savings when it comes to translating a website into multiple languages.

It’s essentially an integral part of multilingual content management.

best way to translate website

Try Pairaphrase as your web-based translation management system.

Clients can do a lot with our translation API; as more and more users translate and edit content and their TM’s grow, they can reuse that translated content and populate all their websites and apps with previously translated content–continuously. This cycle can continue indefinitely.

2. Hire a Professional Translator

The best way to translate websites for accuracy also involves hiring a human translator.

Once you find yourself a web-based translation management system, the next step is to hire someone who is skilled in the target language and subject matter you discuss on your website.

Why Hire a Professional Translator
Human translators are able to understand cultural nuances and phrases in ways that machine translation cannot. We must stress that the translator should be skilled in the type of subject matter you discuss on your website. Otherwise, they might not be familiar with certain terms, regulations or practices involved in your field of work.

How to Work with a Professional Translator
After you upload your site content into your translation management system, you should hire a professional translator and invite them to work within your translation management system.

From within the system, they will edit the first-draft translations you created. This will result in high accuracy, as well as the further creation of translation memories to auto-populate future translations.

Do not opt for translating your website via a CMS plug-in unless it is tied to a translation management system that your company has used and has stored its translation memories within. Many of the CMS plugins that exist today for website translation will give you low-quality translations that will leave your site visitors scratching their heads, or potentially perceiving your brand negatively.

Best Way to Translate a Website for SEO

how to translate website

The best approach to translating a website for SEO (search engine optimization) involves a three-pronged approach:

  1. Avoid triggering a duplicate content penalty
  2. Develop a site structure strategy
  3. Designate target keyword phrases that you’d like each of your translated web pages to rank for

Your website’s SEO matters because it affects how high your website appears in search engines such as Google for specific keyword searches.

These searches are performed by potential customers or clients, so you want to make sure that you don’t do anything in the translation process that will negatively affect your search engine rankings.

The best way to translate a website for SEO is to use the following three tactics.

1. Avoid a “Duplicate Content” Penalty

One of the best ways to translate a website for SEO includes making sure your site doesn’t cause a duplicate content problem.

Here’s why.

When Google sees the same content (word for word) across multiple places on the web (especially in the form of whole web pages and worse—websites), it can penalize your websites. This isn’t good, because it means your web pages could drop in ranking significantly.

This is something you absolutely should take preventative measures against because organic website traffic via search engines is essentially free and fairly passive. You don’t want to lose free leads because your site isn’t showing up in search engines, where people often search for products and services.

So how do you avoid duplicate content?

How to Avoid Duplicate Content Penalty for Translated Websites

Google itself has suggested that human translation is the best answer, which continues to build the case for our earlier point of hiring a professional translator.

Why? This will create a unique version of the content, which will help you avoid a penalty. They claim that if you use an automatic translation tool (pure machine translation) such as Google Translate to create multiple versions of the same site, they will be able to pick up on it and potentially penalize you.

In summary, hiring a human translator is not only one of the best ways to translate a website for accuracy, but also for SEO.

2. Develop a Site Structure Strategy

Another component of the best way to translate your website for SEO is by developing a site structure strategy. That’s right! A well-thought-out approach to structuring your content for various languages can help you optimize the site for SEO.

Below, we discuss a couple of different approaches to structuring your site for international use.

gTLD (Generic Top-Level Domain)

If all your language versions are in different subfolders on a gTLD (generic top-level domain) such as .com, .net, .org etc. (e.g. yourwebsite.com/fr for French) you can set up your Google Search Console to geo-target the site user so that your site will show in the appropriate language.

Also, you would translate your page URL’s to read in the target language. For example, for yourwebsite.com/our-products it would be yourwebsite.com/fr/nos-produits.

This approach is our main recommendation for SEO because it will keep all your SEO efforts on one site as opposed to needing to establish domain authority for separate sites.

ccTLD (Country-Code Top-Level Domain)

If you choose to use a ccTLD (country-code top-level domain) such as .fr, .in, .de, etc. (e.g. yourwebsite.fr for France), it’s important to note that Google will assume the site is relevant to the geographic area targeted by the ccTLD (not specifically the user’s native language) and will help the site appear on SERPs in that area.

It’s also important to know that a ccTLD approach will require you to purchase a new domain for each area you’re targeting, and this can get costly depending on your budget.

The other thing to note is that your domain authority will not pass from one site to another. This means that each site will need separate work on it to gain its own authority in search engines. For certain ccTLD’s, you’ll need to prove affiliation with that country.

3. Develop a Keyword Strategy

Multilingual SEO doesn’t need to be complicated. However, you do need to develop a keyword strategy for each page regardless of that page’s language. This does take some time and research.

Keep in mind this is worth it in the long run, and it is an important component of the best way to translate a website for SEO.

How to Do This

Hire an SEO expert and have them research the best keyword phrases for your website, mapping unique keyword phrases to the appropriate pages. Have them communicate with your translator.

Your translator will know how to best translate the keyword phrases and how to incorporate them into the site content and meta data so that translations stay intact. Then, your translator should work these into the content and meta data in a way that makes sense, with the guidance of the SEO expert.

Get Started by Uploading Your Website Content to Pairaphrase

The best way to translate your website into different languages is by starting with Pairaphrase, a web-based translation management system for enterprises.

Pairaphrase will help you translate faster, safer and smarter.

With an easy-to-use interface and features such as translation memory, translation editing, lightning-speed file translation, collaboration, security and compatibility with 20+ file types (including HTML and XML), Pairaphrase is the number one choice in web-based translation management.

What’s more, Pairaphrase places a strong emphasis on security. This means that your business files are encrypted and your content is never shared with third parties or made public.

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