Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Translating a Website - Keyword Analysis

If you've ever translated a website you probably know that it is at the very least a daunting process. I've been through this several times and have a few pieces of information which should prove helpful related to keyword analysis and translation. Getting this part right in advance can save you a lot of headaches down the line and can improve the overall quality of your translations.

Keyword Analysis

Don't trust your translation company to translate your primary keywords. Many keywords which may be specific to your industry may still be used as the English word vs. what ever translated version your translation company provides. There's nothing more frustrating than finding out you translated primary keywords only to see your foreign customers use the English version once you've launched your site.

1. Make a list of primary keywords or difficult to translate keywords (industry specific terms) and translate just those terms into your target languages.
2. Perform searches on the English and translated terms in the appropriate language specific search engine (nl.google.com, de.google.com, etc.). Make sure you limit the search for pages in the target languages.
3. Use a machine translation tool to translate these pages into English. Review the site and see how the site uses the word in context and make note of whether they use the English or translated version of the word. Also see if the site is relevant to your business and if they're using the words in the same context.
4. Poll your customers, send an email announcement, create a blog post, or create a translation wiki. A little debate and feedback can go a long way in helping you decide what the best version of a term is.
5. Buy PPC on both the English term and the suggested translations in a new campaign. Limit that campaign to just your target language. Start counting impressions on your ad. Don't worry too much about translating your ad or website at this point (especially in western languages). English ads and websites on foreign language search engines are quite common. This is by far the most accurate way to measure the use of words in a specific language.
6. Make sure to keep an eye out for "anglicized" translations. Sometimes neither the literal translation nor the English version is used. In these cases your customers may be adding language specific extensions to English words to make them easier to understand when reading. Ask your translation company to check for anglicized versions of your keywords.
7. Provide a glossary to your translation company for hard to translate words so they're aware of the exact meaning of specific words. Make sure to include any specific research you've already done.

If you follow these steps you can get a good idea in advance as to whether the literal translation, English version, or anglicized version of a keyword is used. This will prove very valuable to your PPC and SEO campaigns, and will greatly improve the quality of your translations overall.

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