Search Engine Optimization for International Companies

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is hard enough as is. Throw in multiple languages and different locales and you’re in for a REAL treat. I’m going to talk to you about SEO for international companies but I’m working on the assumption that you know what SEO is and you have an SEO strategy. If you don’t know what SEO is, check this out: It’ll give you the basics.

What on Earth is Localization?

Alright, I feel comfortable making the assumption that you know what SEO is but localization is a completely different story. Unless you work in a specific industry like the language services industry, it’s unlikely that you’ve come across this term before. So, let’s dive right in!

Localization involves taking content written for one locale and tailoring it to meet the needs of another.

For Example:

You have an online store that sells, oh I don’t know, custom floor mats for cars. So far, you’re dominating the Canadian floor mat market and you see an opportunity to break into the Japanese market. To carve your niche, you start adding your website to online Japanese floor mat retailer directories.

Six months pass and not a single order has come in from Japan. Time to pack it up, right? Wrong! You need to localize. So, you hire a company to translate all of your text to Japanese and you’re off to the races.

Make Sure You:

• Adjust your website layout to account for an increase/decrease in text. Some languages add up to 40% more characters per body of text

• Update measurements, currency, and date format to fit with local customs

• Update photos to feature places and people that represent your new market’s culture

This is Just the Start…

Translating your text to the language of your market is only the first step in SEO localization. You need to do the exact same things you did for your English website SEO. Let’s review those steps and I’ll explain the localization strategy.

Link Building

You’re going to have to build links that are relevant in your new market. Where does your new market look for your product (directories, blogs, twitter, facebook)? Make sure you’re there and speaking their language. Connect with social media influencers in your target locale.


This is where you’re definitely going to need a professional. You can’t just ask someone to translate keywords that are popular in your current location and expect them to be popular in a different country. In Canada, we may search for “social media marketing agencies” but in a different country that string might be useless. The prevailing term for social media marketing in a different country might be “internet advertising companies” in which case you haven’t used any of those words.

I guess this is the perfect time to explain long-tail and short-tail keywords because this will be the most difficult part. In some languages, depending on the context, the form of a word might change (context-sensitive spelling). So a singular keyword planted throughout your content might be useless because people often search using long-tailed strings.

Website Design and Usability

Your website has to reflect the way users navigate your website. Look at other websites in your target locale and find best practices. Where do they prefer the menu? Do they use “bread crumb links” or navigation side bars? Do they mostly share using Facebook or do they use Twitter? Ultimately, sharing your content will help you leaps and bounds so you need to set sharing features up in a way that your target market is most comfortable with.

This is just a taste of what you’re in for when you decide to do SEO localization. If you have any questions visit

For more on international marketing check out:

Translate Tweets to Explode in the Twitterverse (and make more cash online)

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The World’s WORST Interpreting Advice

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Now, onto the show…

It’s hump day and to make it more palatable, I decided some humor was in order. I read a lot of advice blogs because, quite frankly, I’m not good at a lot of things. I need all the advice I can get. I am, however, an expert in doing this WRONG. So heed this warning:

The Following Interpreting Advice Should Not Be Used Under Any Circumstance.

You have been warned…

Tip #1 – Give the “gist”

Doctors, lawyers, and insurance brokers are often in a hurry. Time is money or so the saying goes. Do them a favor. When interpreting for one of their clients only relay the gist of the conversation. Details are not as important as you may think.
Example – If a patient tells you “I think I’m having a heart attack and I can’t breathe” save the doctor, the patient, and yourself sometime by giving the gist –“I am not feeling well”.

Tip #2 – Always Be Late

As an interpreter, you don’t want to look overeager! Arrive fashionably late. Not only will you look cool but it’ll also give your clients some extra time to sit in awkward silence. If you can, arrive with latte in hand. It’s a signal to everyone that coffee was more important than being on time. You’re an interpreter rock star.

The only thing cooler than being late is…

Tip#3 – Don’t Show Up at All

Supply and demand! This is basic economics people! If demand is high and there is little supply, you can charge a premium. But don’t wait until the scale tips naturally, give it a nudge by giving the impression that you’re too busy to take on new clients. If they really want you, they will cough up the extra dough.

Tip #4 – ABT

Everyone has heard of the acronym ABC (Always Be Closing). It’s a classic sales tip that reminds you that everything you do in sales is to put you in a position to close (strike a deal). ABT is similar. It stands for Always Be Texting. People LOVE gadgets and with the iPhone 5 recently debuting, your clients will surely be impressed when they see your fingers a-flyin’ across that remarkable device.

Tip #5 – Fake It ‘til You Make It

This is my last piece of advice to interpreters. If you don’t know the equivalent of the word in the target language, make something up. Don’t forget, you’re a professional. If you skip a beat or have to pause to think of the word, you’ll look amateur. Besides, neither of your clients will know that you switched a word. After all, you’re the only one in the room that knows both languages!

There you go folks, straight from the horse’s mouth. As a connoisseur of doing things poorly, these must be the WORST pieces of advice that I could give to interpreters.
Now get out there and interpret!

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How to Recover from a Bad Translation (and come out on top!)

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Before he knew it, phone calls were coming in droves. He stopped checking his email because his inbox was becoming unmanageable. How on earth was he going to explain this one to his boss?

John, a copywriter at a well known advertising agency, had just released (or rather unleashed) his latest ad for a major Japanese electronics manufacturer and to his dismay (and the dismay of many), the ad featured some rather awkward (read: inappropriate) copy. It turns out the translation company he hired used machine translation and neglected to proof read, as did John.

Now John, a relatively unknown copywriter, is out of a job (big deal!). The real damage done was to his client, the Japanese electronics manufacturer. As the executives of the manufacturing facility sat in the boardroom trying to figure out how to bounce back after this PR nightmare, they read this very article:

How to Recover from a Bad Translation:

Step 1:

Take a deep breath (everything will be o.k.)

Step 2: Assess the Damage

Assessing the damage is easily done thanks to social media. If you’re a high profile company and you’ve made a “booboo”, you can bet it’s already on Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere. Do a keyword search for your blunder and see what comes up.

Step 3: Respond

Again, thanks for social media, you can respond quickly to those who have expressed concern over your, for lack of a better phrase, poor judgment. Apologize for the mistake! As viral as your blunder went, your apology will spread just as quickly.

Step 3: Turn a PR Nightmare into a PR Dream

I know it may feel like it but this isn’t the first time a company has released poorly translated adverts or, more generally, an embarrassing, under-thought out, advertisement. The most successful companies turn this bad press into a chance to do something fantastic.

Think of a way to get the community involved. Could you have a contest that has people Re-caption the advertisement? Probably! Could you poke a little fun at yourself on Youtube? I’ll bet you can!

Be creative.

Final Thoughts

In the age of social media, everything you do is a chance for you to engage with your customers. In years past, you didn’t have that option. You made a terrible marketing decision? YOU LIVED WITH IT UNTIL SOMEONE ELSE MADE A BIGGER MISTAKE. Now, you can get right in there! Apologize, mend fences, and have a little fun.

For more information on how to choose a language service provider that won’t EVER put you in this position, visit

Also, check out this articles:

How to Choose a Language Services Provider

Three Reasons to Stay with Your Language Services Provider

Do This, Not That: Public Speaking Tips for Interpreters

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To be a great interpreter, you need to be a great public speaker. Having done a little bit of research on the topic of public speaking, I’ve found that most of the basic rules don’t apply. Most of the foundational skills for public speaking involve skills that are based on being a bit candid. Storytelling and using humor, for example, can make you a great public speaker but they will make you a poor interpreter. As an interpreter, it isn’t your job to be funny or a storyteller (you know that!). It’s your job to relay the messages of someone else who is a great public speaker.

As I researched, I asked myself “what makes a great interpreter in a public setting”. Here are three general tips that I’ve come up with:

1. Have you ever encountered a speaker that was fidgety? I mean constantly moving, shuffling papers, or adjusting their clothes. Did it bother you? If you said yes, you are part of the majority. Generally, audience feels less engaged and more distracted when the speaker nervously fidgets.

Do This, Not That
Before starting to interpret, make sure you are comfortable and organized. Adjust your clothing and arrange your materials prior to beginning your interpretation. Relax, put your hands at your sides (unless you’re an ASL interpreter), and start interpreting.

2. Omit your “umms” and “ahhs”. Make a concerted effort not to make “thinking noises”. This is often distracting to the listener. You’ll come across very professional and prepared if you omit your “umms” and “ahhs”.

Do This, Not That
If you need a moment to think, pause silently. I know interpreting must be on pace but an “umm” takes just as much time as a pause but it is far less distracting. Cutting out thinking sounds will be difficult especially if it is habitual. You’ll need to work to cut it out of your daily communications and work toward cutting it out of your interpretations.

3. Dress professionally and you’ll feel professional. This is classic advice. This is the advice my father gave to me and his father to him. The reason it’s classic is because it is one of those things in life that just happens to be proved time and time again. Trust me; this piece of advice is the real deal. When you feel professional, you’ll be confident and that will show through your voice, posture, and mannerisms.

Do This, Not That
Everyone has a different opinion of how professionals dress but there is some consensus. For men, you can’t go wrong with a dress shirt, black trousers, and black shoes. It is pretty standard and inexpensive to purchase if you require a professional look. Women can often dress in more versatile clothing (and to be honest, I’m not about to give advice on women’s fashion. I’m pretty clueless in that department). If you need some advice, check this out:

So there you have it folks, three public speaking tips for interpreters. Have any more to add? Comment below! If we get enough, I’ll put them in another tips blog.