The Culturalization of Global Content: Translation and SEO
When Two Worlds Collide
by Huw Aveston and Andrea Barp, Adapt Worldwide
In today’s global and digital economy, visibility is crucial for success, on a local, national and global scale. This process of localization consists of three parts: translation, culturalization and visibility optimization. Content must be readable, targeted, accessible and searchable.
This is where nuanced multilingual digital marketing comes in. A key component of digital marketing is SEM (Search Engine Marketing), which can be split into two primary areas: SEO (organic search) and PPC (paid search). While the organic links are “free,” meaning at least no direct costs, the sponsored PPC links are much like any other marketing campaign. Every time a sponsored link is followed by a user, a fee is paid to the host search engine: pay-per-click.
For years, even some of the world’s largest companies have straight-translated PPC campaigns. Although only three short lines of content are visible within the search results, there is a major discrepancy in click-through rate (CTR) when comparing these straight-translations with a digital marketer’s culturally optimized content. Clicks equal visits, visits equal conversions and conversions equal positive ROIs.
SEO is all about visibility and getting your site on that all-important first page of search results for your key phrases. There are innumerable factors that affect organic search and rankings. On-page SEO on the other hand is, and will always be, the cornerstone of the practice. As many companies are learning, this cannot be provided by translation of pre-existing sites alone. The culturalization element is a necessity. People might be searching for cheap hotels in Dublin, but do not assume they are searching for lētas viesnīcas in Riga (that’s “cheap hotels” in Latvian).
It is also important to note that the whole world does not revolve around Google search engine. Translation agencies are now working hand-in-hand with expert SEM teams to target market-specific search engines, such as Chinese web search engine, Baidu and South Korean search portal, Naver, to provide Western brands with a fast-road into the East. This revolves around the perfect storm of translation, culturalization and search market expertise.
In today’s world, traditional marketing techniques are becoming increasingly less effective, and content marketing is becoming more and more popular. In essence, content marketing is about attracting customers with valuable and interesting content to provide knowledge and create brand empathy. The notion of brand as thought leader and sector confidant has proven incredibly successful within the new digital world. It’s an ongoing process very different from traditional one-off sale pitches.
In the modern search landscape, content marketing is one of the most important tools for search engine marketers. Content marketing is a democratic discipline and if you have good visible content, people will vote for you. As a result of this, culturalization has also become an increasingly important tool for those serious about profitably entering into foreign markets. Creating content that appeals to the widest audience while simultaneously providing a personal voice, through tone and excellent culturalization, provides an excellent opportunity for incredibly positive ROIs. Making content accessible across markets through this process is no longer take-it-or-leave-it but a clear necessity.
The newest form of SEM is App Store Optimization – SEO for mobile apps. Brands and developers have for years been creating one global version of their app, usually in English in-app and in the app store listings. We’re constantly surprised when we see major brands making such elementary errors, even though the costs are low and the benefits are gargantuan. This is poor practice, both from a user (conversion optimization) and search (visibility) perspective. All of the major app stores, from Google Play and iOS to Windows Phone and Amazon, allow developers to highly optimize and target their app’s listing (inclusive of keywords) within markets. It’s a two-part process:
- The user has to be able to discover the app in the first place (ideally through branded and non-branded search).
- The SEO must then engage the user enough to get them to download, through culturally and personally relevant content.
Apps, like any other content, should always be culturally optimized for every target market: the only way to strengthen brand engagement and recognition.
The days of SEM and translation existing in two separate worlds is coming to a natural end. Companies looking to venture into new markets or operate more effectively in markets they’re already in, are realizing that culturalization is no longer a luxury – it’s fast becoming a quick win. Global brands need to include SEM and SEO as an integral part of their localization strategy. The culturalization of content via experts represents the future of multilingual digital marketing.
Huw & Andrea
Adapt Worldwide is a Welocalize multilingual digital marketing agency and experts in the cultural adaptation of content across multiple digital channels. Huw Aveston is Co-Founder and Managing Director at Adapt Worldwide. Andrea Barp is Translation Director at Adapt Worldwide.