How to Translate Your Keywords

January 21, 2016 Peter Betts

As a localization provider I have talked with many companies and SEO agencies who like to use Google Translate to translate their keywords. Other companies use someone in their office for keyword translation. In either case these are not the ways to run an effective global content marketing program.

Machine Translation Shortfalls


If you are using Google Translate or another similar machine translation tool for keyword translation you may be getting a translation with a different meaning or context than you are intending. Google Translate now offers some context clarification for single words, but not for what may be full search terms or long-tail keywords and phrases.

Google Translate is also not specific to a locale, so if you are translating text from English into Spanish, you won't be able to specify if it's for Latin America or Europe.

A few examples of single English words with double meanings are: solution, hatch, season, patient, and charge. If you don't have a professional human translator that understands the context of your message, your message can easily get lost.

Don't Skip Keyword Research

Companies that use a native speaking staff member to translate their keyword list might think that seems like a great option to assure proper context, and while it perhaps is a step above using a machine translation tool, it is still lacking in providing effective localization. The person often doing this translation is just translating the keywords from the list and is not doing keyword research to see how searches are being performed in a given market. The way something is searched for in Argentina may not be the same as in Mexico or Spain, even though they are all using the Spanish language.

For example, in English, coffee shops is a common phrase, which is translated into Spanish as cafeteria, but in Spain, when someone is looking for a place to drink coffee the term café is searched for in much larger volumes. A professional translator familiar with the language and locale would be able to provide you with the correct term for your target audience.



For each target market you should do keyword research to effectively localize your keyword list. If you are running a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign you will want to be paying for the terms that the local marketplace is searching for and for the proper context otherwise you will be wasting your PPC budget. If your SEO results are not meeting the level you expect in the global markets you serve you may want to evaluate how you are developing your global keyword lists and develop a new strategy.

Further Resources on International Search Engine Marketing (SEM) including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Advertising (SEA) and Social Media Localization

Global Digital Marketing for multilingual websites or for content destined for specific locales (country + language + geography) is more than just translating keywords. Today companies should work with a combination of owned, earned and bought digital media in order to drive traffic to their localized or translated websites. Localization of any media requires in-country native speaking professionals to copy write and localize content in order to engage potential customers. Whether you work with a traditional digital marketing agency, or you are one, GPI's global digital marketing team can serve as an extension of your in-house digital marketing department to help you deliver your message around the world.

For more information on specific topics related to global digital marketing, you may wish to review some of our previous blogs:

Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our language and technology services. Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs. You may request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects as well.

About the Author

Peter Betts

Peter has over 18 years experience in business development within the localization industry supporting clients for documentation, software and website globalization services. He started his career in the translation industry in 1995 and over the years has worked for several leading localization service providers. Throughout his career Peter has led by example and always put his clients’ needs first to ensure client expectations are understood and successfully met. Over the years Peter has trained extensively in Solution Selling, Action Selling and Localization Sales, Testing and Project Management. Peter handles many of GPI’s global accounts helping educate clients on GPI’s comprehensive suite of globalization services and industry best practices.

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