Search engine optimization is the process of getting free or “organic” traffic to a website from search engine listings on the internet. The big search engines display web pages and content in order of what it considers most relevant to the terms for which the user is searching.
If you have a website about travel tips when going to France, you want your site to be at the top of that list when people type in related search words. Search engine optimization is the science behind making your website pop up first.
If you have a successful site in the United States hitting all the right terms, you may think to pull web traffic from France, all you need to do is translate your English terms into French and voila! c’est fini!
Not so fast.
Translating ad keywords for search engine optimization from one language to another is much more complicated.
For example, the original English term “low cost hotel” translates to “hotel bas coût” in French but since in France the monthly search volume for “hotel bas coût” is zero, the translation has failed. You may think if you get rid of the circumflex accent, things will change but you would be wrong. It still gets zero hits. “Hotel pas trop cher” gets significantly more search engine hits in France but “hotel not too expensive” is not a likely term used in a list of English keywords to translate.
Direct translations of a list of keywords will give you search terms but may get you no results. No matter how successful your current English campaign, finding the best keywords for your search engine optimization campaign will require you to look at the language of your target market as a separate entity.
Forget everything that works in your original campaign and look at working search patterns and keywords in the market you hope to break into. It requires more effort to discover the best term variations that can be made by removing accents, using singular or plural, and changing word order or prepositions. It may not be “bas coût” hiring a translator to help but the increased number of hits and web traffic you will get will be worth the time and money.