Monday, 30 June 2014

Multilingual Marketing: Challenges with Translation in Digital & SEO

by Owain Lloyd-Williams

At Traffic Optimiser, we pride ourselves on our multilingual, multicultural digital marketing strategies that enable us to offer that little bit more to clients wishing to engage in activity across different markets.

With our team of digital marketing specialists being largely made up of bi or trilingual analysts, our daily operations see a rich pallet of content marketing, outreach and SEO activity being undertaken on a truly global scale.

Making sure everything from the creation of multilingual articles to worldwide social media campaigns run smoothly here at TO is Andrea Barp, our Translations Director who has a wealth of experience in the front line of translation management. Here, Andrea gives a few useful insights on the translation industry and the nature of our multilingual work.

How long have you been in the translation game? What brought you into the industry?

AB: I've been in this industry for 18 years now and counting. I started off as a translator from Danish and English into Italian shortly after graduating from university with a degree in foreign languages. My first project was a tumble drier manual in Danish sent to me by fax. The good old days. I then sent round my CV, and, thanks to my rare language combination of Danish-Italian, I was able to get into the business.

With so many resources out there these days, it’s very important to find solid, reliable translators. What’s your process for resourcing these?

AB: As with any other business, it's important to establish good partnerships with reliable suppliers that you can trust as if they were part of your own internal team. Even if at the end of the day it's always a client-supplier relationship, it's important to create a team bond to run projects successfully. I always look for resources that are easy to work with, energetic, curious and open to new challenges. Run of the mill suppliers not keen on pushing the envelope of their comfort zone are generally not a good match in today's industry, even when they have many years of experience. To find the right suppliers, I generally start from my network which, after all these years, is quite substantial, and then I extend the search beyond when needed, always looking for those important characteristics mentioned above. 

Let’s move on to translation at Traffic Optimiser. Right now, how many languages do we cover in-house?

AB: I think we cover about 10 languages internally with mother tongue resources. There are more if we include the second and third language proficiency of some of the team members. With our suppliers' network we cover about 50 languages at the moment, but essentially we can resource any world language.

What are the some of the major challenges you face when approaching SEO from a translation perspective?

AB: SEO is more than simple translation, and straight keyword translation simply does not cut the mustard. The way people search in London, Buenos Aires or Beijing is very different and this is the essence of multilingual SEO. I like to summarize the typical keyword translation workflow in the following way:

1) Translate Keywords
2) Obtain search volumes 
3) Test both accented and unaccented characters if applicable
4) Adjust the translated keywords accordingly based on search volumes 
5) Obtain search volumes again 
6) Sign off keywords and weave into website content and metadata, avoiding to overstuff the text with too many keywords 

What languages do you see as big ones for the future?

AB: Emerging markets, such as the BRICS countries, but also LATAM Spanish, Arabic, and Indonesian. However, we must always keep an eye on how the world political space develops over the coming months and years, as this may have an impact on how quickly certain economies develop.

You can find more information on the variety of multilingual services we offer here, and if you have anything to share about translation (or have some interesting translation anecdotes, for example) please feel to join in the discussion in the comments section below!

Image credit: Kenneth Lu


  1. I'm wondering also if there is an emerging need for various African languages given recent expanses of industry into the region.

  2. I guess within the next couple of years there is just no big demand for African languages as the Asian market will be too dominant (especially within the online marketing sphere). Anyway, interesting topic! Well done Owain. I'll add you on G+ to stay in contact with you!

    1. That's great - thanks for the feedback the G+ following! Will let you know when the latest blog post is up and I hope you enjoy it. I myself am partial to the notion of Asian languages becoming a major force in the future - particularly of course Mandarin but also the likes of Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian. Will hopefully give us all an excuse to head out there!

  3. Danish and Italian - what an interesting mixture! I thought I was unique with my knowledge of English and Czech but that's certainly a niche.

  4. Cheers. In today's global market I think it's crucial to stand out in some way. Kudos to you as well with English and Czech. Sometimes, I wish I had a basic understanding of at least one of the Slavic languages.