One of the participants at the Web-Writing Webinar on 11 April asked me how translators should deal with keywords when working on website translations. The question threw me for a minute, but I realised afterwards (as you do) that the answer should have been: “With great caution”.
Selecting keywords is an important part of the search-engine optimisation (SEO) process. As such, I think it’s best left to SEO specialists. Finding appropriate keywords for the translated (or localised) site isn’t just a matter of translating those of the source-language site.
Ideally, the client should engage an SEO company to optimise their site for the target language, region and community, and send their translator the keywords and phrases for seamless — and judicious — incorporation in the translated copy. And ideally the translator should be an integral part of the web team, not an after-the-event add-on.
That’s what would happen in the ideal world. If, however, your client hasn’t had any SEO done, then one option is to identify suitable keywords and search terms using Google Adwords or similar and send them to the client for further research and approval. That way, you’re providing added value but returning responsibility for SEO to the website owner, where it belongs.
Another point to consider is that SEO costs money. If you, as a translator, offer to do keyword research, you should be paid for it. Are you confident enough in your SEO expertise not just to do that research, but to charge appropriately?
Big translation or localisation companies may take a different approach, or work with their own SEO specialists (do you? please let us know!).
The Yahoo! Style Guide includes a section on keywords and a useful list of keyword research tools. These are useful if you’re trying to optimise your own site but, once again, I’d recommend great caution where clients’ sites are concerned.
I highly recommend the Yahoo! Style Guide — but if you decide to buy it, please, please, order it from your local “bricks and mortar” bookshop.
By Marian Dougan