Factor the following into your localization strategy
Over the last few years Matt Cutts, the Head of the Web Spam team at Google, has posted several hints to the fact that Google uses localization as a criterion for ranking well on their search engine. This was later confirmed when details were released about Google’s Panda update. Yet, a lot of search engine optimization companies aren’t applying this idea to their localization strategy.
Basically, Google has decided it will, or at least consider, serving you search results that match your locale. This makes sense. If you’re searching for a place to get your oil changed, do you want search results from all over the world or do you want results from your city?
The logic holds true for the association between their top-level domains and your localized website. if you search on google.fr, you’ll likely only want to view French websites. In this case, your English only website, as relevant as it may be, will not rank.
Since its release, Google Translate has become to the go to application for multi-lingual integration on the web. Google Translate is a machine translation platform that uses a statistical model to translate content from one language to another. The technology has vastly improved since its release, with new languages added and updates to the way the platform renders its translation. But, its still not perfect. Google Translate is known for oddities and abnormalities in translation, causing a disconnect between the text’s original message and the newly rendered version. But this is only one of the major issues with Google translate.
In 2011, Matt Cutts, the head of Web Spam at Google, announced that websites that are translated dynamically with Google translate do not help webmasters increase their search engine rank. These translations are not indexed or stored by Google thus have no chance of appearing in a search. Even more shocking was that Cutts said that sites that are auto-translated my appear to Google as spam, risking delisting from the search rankings. Further to the point, Cutts stated that Google would rather a webmaster translate their site using a proper localization strategy because it is more easily read by human beings and that Google Translate often produces results that that are contrary to Google’s terms of service.
How to add this to your localization strategy
Google has made it pretty clear. Your localization strategy should include a plan on how to deal with the Google algorithms.
If Google prefers local content than your localization strategy should include the following:
- Registering all of your addresses with Google Local
- Using Google Analytics to see the top languages that view your site and then translate them accordingly. Let the user pick the language they would like to view your site in. Do not rely on Google Translate for this
- If you have sites that cater to different countries than add local content and use local currency and time/date formats. Even adding widgets (like a weather widget) for the major cities in that country would be a huge advantage
- For the best results, let a professional localization company like the Word Exchange handle your localization strategy