If you want the foreign language version of your website to generate traffic, you need to go through the same process of working on your SEO as for the original website.
As a website owner, you want it to generate plenty of traffic and rank high in the Google organic search results. In order to achieve it, you invest plenty of time (or money) to work on your SEO and make all the necessary steps to increase the number of views and conversions on your website.
This is absolutely natural and the majority of businesses do exactly the same thing. Yet, many of them forget that when they decide to create a foreign language version of their website, they need to go through the same process to drive traffic from Google organic search in that language. Mere translation is not enough.
In this post, you will learn what to do to make sure the Polish language version of your website generates high traffic among your target audience and why this is so important.
Why do I need to care?
Launching a foreign language version of your website can be a costly and time-consuming process. If you leave it at the stage where you only get translation of the copy, the outcome might not be worth the effort. Even a perfect translation of your website will not yield great results, if it’s not search engine optimised, simply because your target audience will not be able to find it.
By not following the steps you made when search optimising your original website, you run the risk of losing with your competition on the foreign market and wasting your money you invested in the translation.
After all, the main reason to create a foreign language version of your website is to provide the best user experience possible. In order to achieve it, you need to make sure that Google shows an appropriate language version for a given location.
So, what’s different?
The main reason why website translation without regard to SEO is not enough is that your new target audience differs from your regular clients: they live in a different country (or even continent), they have different mentality, habits, background and culture.
This is why your message needs to be precisely designed to reach and influence them. The better you define your target audience and the more personalised your message is, the more effective your actions will be.
To give you an example: one of my clients is a nail artist and her customers are both English and Polish women. Now, her English clientele includes higher middle-class ladies, usually running their own businesses, very independent and career-oriented. For them, an impeccable manicure is part of their professional image.
However, most of the Polish women who visit her beauty salon belong to the lower middle-class; they work on managerial positions but not the top ones; family is more important to them than career, and they want well-done nails to look good. Two types of women as customers will require different types of messages, therefore the Polish copy will not be merely a translation of the original, but its transcreation.
So, what exactly do you need to work on to get traffic from Google organic search results in Polish? There are a few main elements of your translated website that you should optimise for SEO and we will look at them one by one.
The foreign language version of your website needs to be equipped with elements that will allow it to be indexed and differentiated by the search engine from other language versions. Otherwise, you might get an algorithmic penalty from Google and your traffic will simply plummet.
In order to avoid a harsh penalty, first of all, you need to embed your translated website correctly.
There are three ways to do this. The examples below are for a Polish language version:
- Subcatalogues, e.g. http://example.en/pl;
- Top level domain, e.g. http://example.pl;
- Subdomains, e.g. http://pl.example.en.
All three methods are correct, yet which one is best for you will depend on your individual needs and the risks you are ready to take.
For example, choosing a separate domain or a subdomain is relatively safe, because in case of any penalties from Google, other domains and subdomains remain unaffected. This is not possible in the case of subcatalogues. The latter are a perfect option if you want to maintain full unity of your website and are sure there is absolutely no risk of a potential algorithmic penalty.
Whichever you choose, remember to use a domain without the "www" prefix.
The title of a website in the context of search engine optimisation means the value of the title tag for each subpage. SEO experts agree that the value of this tag is the most important aspect of website optimalisation. Therefore, your website title should not be a literate translation of the English title, but a Polish title truly reflecting the content of the copy. Having said that, it is very often the case that a translation of the English title will suffice, still there are instances where you would need to transcreate rather than translate the title.
Similarly to the title, headings need also to be carefully looked at, as they play a vital role in the search engine optimisation of your website - they tell Google what the content of each subpage is. Therefore, if the content of your subpages is different for the Polish language version, then make sure that the Polish heading is a true reflection of the actual content rather than a translation of the English one. And don’t forget to check the keyword search rate for the Polish headings.
You know it too well that when you create content for your website, it needs to be original, rich, preferably long and easy to digest by the reader. Only then you can expect your website to rank high in Google search results.
The same rules apply for other language versions, so if you want the Polish audience to find you, make sure that the copy of your Polish site is well-optimised with regards to suitability, content richness and, most importantly, KEYWORDS.
In order for the Polish version of your website to appear in the organic search results, your copy and content should include keywords that are popular in the Polish language.
How to find out which keywords are popular? Uncle Google gives you a helping hand, i.e. the Google Keyword Planner where you can check monthly amounts of searches of a given keyword. When analysing the keyword searches, don't forget to chose the right language and location.
The Google Keyword Planner tool will also help you check if your industry and products are popular in Poland and how they compare to other countries. Another helpful tool here is Google Trends - it allows you to check if your products are gaining or losing popularity in other countries.
Cutting costs or improving SEO?
One of the common trick to cut the cost of website translation is to translate only part of our website. For example, you might want to translate only "About" and "Services" pages and leave out the rest, because you don't think Polish customers will be interested in your case studies or any other additional info.
However, even if potential customers don't need detailed information about our company in their language, Google does. The more content you include in your copy, the more stuff Google will have to link organic searches to. Also, more content equals more keywords to be searched for by the Polish users.
Whether it is more beneficial to translate only basic information or the whole website will depend on your needs. If you want to appear high in Google search results, you should invest a bit more in translation and have more content translated. Yet, if you have a very tight budget and you don't need to target wide audiences, translating only part of your copy will be a better option.
Launching a Polish version of your website will make it appear in Google organic searches for Polish keywords, which ideally will generate more traffic and increase your sales. If you want the new version of your website yield solid results worth the investment, it should meet the requirements of the Google algorithm. Paying attention to the issues I described above should help your Polish website achieve a better Google ranking.
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