When Translation and SEO Collide

Working as a translator (or at least a good one) implies exercising a high level of attention to detail, the kind of nit-pickiness that will drive your friends mad but which will elate your clients.  Translators need to have a strong command of both their source and their target languages to be able to do their work properly; however, the work of a translator will often imply possessing other kinds of knowledge that are extraneous to the linguistic world per se.

These days, translators need to be competent with a variety of software programs that expedite their work (CAT tools in general).  In today’s internet-driven, search engine-dependent marketplace, it turns out that having a certain degree of familiarity with SEO tactics is yet another area of secondary knowledge which translators would be wise to brush up on.

Web content is unique and provides translators (and writers as well) with a real challenge, especially in the case of translators that are accustomed to more erudite and sophisticated print media.  Not only is the average reading level of the internet user fairly basic, it’s important to keep in mind people’s reading habits when browsing the web and to be aware of which phrases and keywords are most heavily associated with a given topic.

To clarify this matter, consider the following scenario: an online entrepreneur creates a wonderful website full of quality content that has been search engine optimized in every way possible.  Sentences have been kept short and sweet, the various pages contain a reasonable density of keywords, and so on and so forth.  Is this person going to be satisfied with a face value, word-for-word translation that ignores all the optimization that went into the source text?  NO!  They will at the very least expect that the keywords be chosen wisely in the target language, and may have a slew of other SEO criteria to which they will hold the translator.

It’s no surprise that more and more translators out there are boasting SEO knowledge, as this is a skill set that is proving to be weightier by the day.  If the mere mention of SEO gives you cold sweats, then you might want to check out some of the following links to start building a bit of awareness in this area:

Google’s SEO Starter Guide

Google’s Webmaster Central Blog

Search Engine Land