Let me guess: you need to somehow translate your website to German? However, the “how to” raises questions upon questions. In this article, I address some common topics and share my advice as an SEO consultant: what should you consider when it comes to (German) SEO translation, SEO localization, and SEO transcreation? Take 5 minutes to read this article before you start translating your web page for the German-speaking market.
Website Translation – a Q&A Session
Is it better to go for a standard or a search engine optimized translation of your website? What is the difference between German SEO translation, SEO localization, and SEO transcreation? And which of those is the right choice when translating your website to German? In short: How do you get a German website translation that attracts customers – and, most importantly, ranks high on google.de?
As a German SEO consultant and copywriter, I handle multilingual website projects on a daily basis. One of my specialties is translating English websites into German. In this article, I will provide insight and answer questions that my clients often ask me about German website translations. However, most of these insights apply to translating a website into any foreign language.
Where to start?
Before you start translating your website or finding a German SEO translator to do it for you, have a look at your original website:
- Does your company follow an SEO content strategy?
- Has your website been created based on SEO criteria?
- Does your website feature any meta data (SEO title & meta description)?
- Does it make sense to translate all existing content into German – or only some of it? Which SEO content is actually relevant for German-speaking customers? For example, promoting a cookbook in Welsh to the German-speaking market is not necessarily in your companies’ best interest.
Depending on how you answer these questions, there are 4 1/2 possible scenarios for German website translation.
4 1/2 Ways to Translate Your Website
The better the content in the source language, the more work and cost you will save when it comes to website translation. This is something I have experienced over and over again during my work as a German SEO translator.
That said, which is the right way to translate your website into German? And how do you make sure that customers will find your website on google.de?
Carry on reading and decide which of the following cases best applies to your own website translation project.
1. Classic Translation
Your website is not SEO optimized (on purpose).
Your website was created purely to serve as an online business card. This means, you do not want or need to be found on Google for reason X or Y. In this case, a traditional translation of your website is a sensible choice.
2. SEO Transcreation
Your website is not yet SEO optimized (but you eventually want it to be).
If your content has not been crafted according to a content SEO strategy, now is the time to reconsider. Transcreation means that your existing copy gets a thorough overhaul while being translated into another language. This usually his happens in regard to cultural and – in case of an SEO transcreation – with SEO aspects in mind.
When you opt for a SEO transcreation, it makes sense to revise your original content first with regards to SEO ‒ and have it transcreated second. Doing so based on a professional content strategy will make your website ranking highly on search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing ‒ both domestically and in German-speaking countries.
3. SEO Translation
Your Content is already SEO-optimized.
If your existing content has been created based on an SEO content strategy, choosing an SEO translation to convert your original copy into German makes the most sense.
To begin with, an SEO translator translates the relevant set of keywords and then validates them. This is necessary because search terms or search intent can differ from culture to culture. Therefore, never have your keywords translated 1:1 verbatim.
For example, when I start with a German SEO translation, I need to ask myself if I should translate the original English search term “seo translation” literally to “seo übersetzung” ‒ or rather choose a more economic search intent “seo übersetzer”?
To know the answer, I work with keyword tools that show me the numbers. Thus, I can find the right German keyword translation before starting the actual translation of a German web page based on this decision.
As a German SEO translator, I first adapt the existing SEO content strategy to the target language based on my keyword translation. Then I translate the SEO content itself to German and, if necessary, adapt its meaning to the modified keywords. Once the SEO translation is complete and online, your multi-language website is ready to rank on top of google.de.
4. Website Localization
If your original website is already SEO-optimized and its content is suited for the German market, it is still necessary to localize the translated SEO content.
SEO localization (or SEO localisation, as the British call it) focuses on translating cultural aspects that cannot be translated literally. For example, measuring units, address formats, DIN standards, national holidays, punctuation marks, etc.
During localization, a SEO translator translates copy and, at the same time, changes those cultural details so that a German user can understand the full meaning of your web content.
Make sure that your SEO translator is experienced in user experience and UX writing .Monika Weber, German SEO translator
In addition to search engine optimization, (German) website localization plays a particularly important role in user experience (UX) and user friendliness. After all, only if users understand all the information on your website, they will place enough trust in your business to actually buy your product.
4 1/2. Create New SEO Content in Your Target Language
Yes, you are absolutely right: writing new content is not a form of translation. (Hence ½.) Nevertheless, I wanted to point out this possibility to your.
Should you discover that your German target group has different (additional) questions and needs than your local customers, you can identify these topics as part of a multilingual SEO strategy ‒ and create (or let someone create) specific German SEO content for them.
1, 2, 3, 4 or rather 4 1/2? You might want to get advice from a content writer before you start a German SEO translation project.
Which Parts of Your Website Should You Translate?
When translating your website into German for SEO and UX purposes, make sure that the translation is thorough. For optimal user experience, simply all content should be translated into the target language.
This means translating not only SEO copy but all other kinds of content as well. In many German website translation-projects, certain pieces of content are often overlooked.
In addition to SEO content, you should translate the following elements:
- alt tags
- H1 heading & subheadings
- meta descriptions
- open graph tags
- SEO titles
- structured data markups
- title tags in links
- URLs of all pages and images
If you keep all of these elements in mind, your SEO translation and the success of your multilingual website will be a breeze.
PS: If you want to compare this blogpost to its German SEO translation, click here.