SEO Translator

How to optimize your web site translation for the search engines!

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Hyphenation is an issue if you want to maintain the aesthetics of your website, specially in responsive designs. But how do you do it, and how does it affect your SEO?

This whole issue appeared when I was developing a responsive multilingual website and I realized how ugly the text looked on a mobile device. The customer wanted the text to be justified, and that looked great -on a computer screen. Unfortunately, when the text was made responsive we had a major issue – either we resized the text until it became unreadable or we used a bigger font and got plenty of empty space because longer words moved to the next line. HTML, unfortunately, does not know about hyphenation.

The answer, of course, was to use the HTML soft hyphenation character entity reference ­ (­ or ­). This HTML entity sets a soft hyphenation inside a word. within the HTML text. For those of you who are unsure a soft hyphenation text is, it means that the web page will hyphenate the word containing the soft hyphenation at the location of the soft hyphenation only if it cannot keep the whole word on the same line. Thus, a word like “unfortunately”, written like “unfortu­nately” would be divided into “unfortu-” in the first line and “nately” in the second line if it did not fit completely in the first line. It does mess up the text to include the “­” code when writing it, so you should include it only after you’re satisfied with the text. When viewing the HTML page, of course, you would not see it at all, only the hyphens if a page needs to be hyphenated. This is excellent from the responsive point of view, as you maintain an aesthetically appealing website, but at the price of some additional work.

I had thought about also using the <wbr /> alternative, but that gave me some problems, as <wbr /> (to my knowledge initially invented y Netscape) is not a standard and does not work properly on all browsers, hence that I thought that &shy; (obviously a standard code) would be more appropriate, though some older browsers will not be able to display that properly.

Interestingly, while researching other alternatives I stumbled on an interesting article on Stackoverflow on the subject of soft hyphens. The article did not provide any additional know-how on what I already knew, but it did include an interesting insight from Paramaeleon that I cannot resist quoting verbatim:

Syllabification isn’t that easy and I cannot recommend leaving it to some Javascript. It’s a language specific topic and may need to be carefully revised by the desk man if you don’t want it to turn your text irritating. Some languages, such as German, form compound words and are likely to lead to decomposition problems. E.g. Spargelder (germ. saved money, pl.) may, by syllabification rules, be wrapped in two places (Spar-gel-der). However, wrapping it in the second position, turns the first part to show up as Spargel- (germ. asparagus), activating a completely misleading concept in the head of the reader and therefore shoud be avoided.

And what about the string Wachstube? It could either mean ‘guardroom’ (Wach-stu-be) or ‘tube of wax’ (Wachs-tu-be). You may probably find other examples in other languages as well. You should aim to provide an environment in which the desk man can be supported in creating a well-syllabified text, proof-reading every critical word.

Nicholas also contributed t the discussion highlighting that:

The common example in English of Spar-gelder vs. Spargel-der is “re-cord” vs “rec-ord” (homographs but not homophones). The former is a verb, the latter is a noun. Algorithms are usually not smart enough for this, even in English (one of the best supported languages in IT).

Finally, CJ Dennis also mentioned:

I would suggest experts-exchange vs expert-sexchange. 🙂

What does this mean? What these three people basically highlighted is that hyphenation is not something that should be done lightly – you need somebody who knows the language, who knows the meaning of the different words and can hyphenate them not only based on grammar rules, but also based on their meaning and context. So using &shy; is something you DO want to do so as to increase the attractiveness of your site, instead of trusting some javascript to do it correctly (which it won’t do).

The final question is: Does hyphenation affect SEO? Would the “&shy;” code affect our keywords? Some very old articles (2007) like this one on Comgroups says it does. I very strongly disagree, based on my research of how Search Engines Identify Language. One of the key ways that they do is by identifying the words that a web page has, and these words (in foreign languages) have special codes embedded, either to display accented characters or special characters that are peculiar to one language. For example, the HTML code for “España” (Spain) is written like “Espa&#209;a” or “Espa&Ntilde;a”. Both are legitimate HTML codes. I simply can’t believe that search engines would consider the “raw” HTML code (and therefore consider the two codings as different words).

It is more logical to assume that search engines parse a web page, strip HTML codes and convert special character codes into the corresponding character, then storing it in their databases as UTF-8, as this would also occupy less space. And if they parse the page to do this, it’s trivial to simply delete the “&shy;” inside a word. Search engines are not stupid, so the impact of using “&shy;” is… nil.

Page title imageWhat happens if you have two pages with the same title? Usually, that is not good for SEO. But if you have a multilingual site and your pages in different languages share a same title, is this also bad for SEO?

Let’s be honest: This situation -unless you really don’t have a clue about SEO- will usually not occur. You want your titles to be keyword-rich, so they usually do not restrict themselves to a single word. And the probability that a sentence or a part of sentence that you use in your title is the same in two different languages is close to zero. Unfortunately, many CMS (customer management systems) don’t give you control of your website to a sufficient degree as to prevent this – the page titles are often generated automatically.

Now, this becomes a problem when you use certain words. For example, the word “romance” is spelled exactly in the same way in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Basque, Czech, Hausa and probably a lot of additional languages. If your web site sells fiction books, it is very likely that you will have a page with this category, and the title name will be repeated over and over. Now, this is likely to become unavoidable. But will it hurt your ranking?

It’s old news that the title of a page is specially scrutinized by the search engines, and that the keywords in the title carry more weight than those in the text. You would assume that the repetition of a same text across different pages in likely to be considered some kind of keyword spamming by Google and other search engines.

However, we should remember that the corresponding pages are in different languages. You should be aware how search engines recognize language (see also my book “Search Engine Babble” on that subject) to understand this, but the most important thing to remember is that the title is NOT the only criterion for language identification, and not even the most important one. The search engine -assuming you have sufficient text in your page- will eventually recognize the language of the page. The title will then be considered to be in the same language as the page and will therefore NOT be considered repeated content.

A same page title (in the vast majority of the cases, one single word) should therefore not be an issue. Of course, you should make sure that the page can be recognized as being in a specific language. Ensure that each page sends the correct language signals to the search engines. If you need to rework your site to make this happen, then start with the highest value pages (those ranking highest, that provide you with a higher income or receive the higher number of visitors).

All the above is is also true with a page header that is automatically inserted by some CMS, though usually you do have more control about page headers. Again, if sufficient text is available for language recognition, it should not be an issue.

In any case, and even though it won’t penalize you to have the same pages with a same title or page headers in different languages, it is advisable to change such titles and page headers if possible. Not only to prevent duplication – but also to add additional keywords to your title. Instead of “Romance” you could write “Romance books” (English), “Livres de romance” (French), etc. The moment you use more than one word, the probability that you will repeat titles is extremely small. And that will not only prevent a potential doubt by the search engines, but it will also allow them to classify you better and enhance your ranking in other keywords.


Choosing the Right Keywords for Multilingual Websites

Every company that has a website simply cannot ignore strategies for search engine optimizations (SEO). It is in almost everyone’s lips, because it is a very important aspect in making a website attract visitors. And playing a huge part in SEO is using the right keywords. This is a complex process that requires expert guidance. First, websites have to contend with the regular change in the algorithms of many search engines such as Google. Now throw in a foreign language or two into the process and the idea of making the keywords work becomes almost insurmountable.

When there is an absolute need to create a multilingual website, then there are many things to be considered to ensure that multilingual keywords will work and will guarantee good results.

Get to know multilingual keywords

It does not matter what the main language in your website is. What matters are the keywords used for the site to achieve high search engine ranking, as these keywords are the crucial link between your website content and what people look for on the Internet. Relevance of your website to the search also depends on the right keywords. In short, if you do not have the right keywords in your website, it will not be found by search engines. Keywords should be worked into your website’s copy and using the right keywords is instrumental in increasing your online presence immensely.


Finding the multilingual keywords is not difficult. It you have an English-language website, then you already have a bunch of good keywords. What you need is to have a good translation company do the translation of these keywords. A professional translator will have the language skills and the cultural insight that will ensure that the keywords to be translated will match searches done locally. If your international website is to be used as a money-making tool, you should also consider the dialects, instead of just the official foreign language. This means treating your target audiences as separate groups. As an example, lunch in French, Swiss/Belgian French and Canadian French is déjeuner.  However, in Belgium and Switzerland, it is called dîner, which in France is the term for the meal you eat in the evening.

What is important to remember is that people use day to day phrases instead of technical or corporate language when they do their searches. This means you have to carefully pick those keywords that have little competition and good search volumes.

You do not need an expensive app to make your website multilingual-friendly. Using Unicode for the text removes the need for encoding the website pages into different languages, as it can be used for more than 90 scripts and have more than 100,000 characters already built in. This means that symbols and special characters used in different languages are already available. Unicode works across any language, program or platform.

Optimizing for international market

Your website should be fully translated and localized before you launch it. However, do remember that it is not a good idea to translate your English website word for word as well as your keywords and phrases. Research plays a major part in the success of your multilingual website. You should know what terms the consumers actually use when searching for items in their own language, including, synonyms, acronyms and abbreviations.

It is also a good idea to make your website bilingual, and leave some English elements in it. You have to keep in mind that more people around the globe are now bilingual and most people know at least some simple English terms. Still you have to do your research as this should also be based on your target clients’ demographics. It is also a good idea to involve your local country teams in the development stage of the website. Their local knowledge and input will be very beneficial in creating a multilingual website that have keywords that are already localized.


Further reading/references:

This post was written by Mariana Sarceda from Day Translations.

Today we have a guest post from Day Translations:

website translation pictureWhen you want to go global, one of the things you have to prepare is a multilingual website. It can be an overhauling of an existing website or completely developing and designing a new one. Whatever method is needed for a website, once a client wants to have a multilingual one, you must be ready for the challenge, because it surely is no ordinary task.

There are many challenges in the development process to come up with a good multilingual website. The design process is more difficult and the website maintenance more time consuming. There are also political and cultural issues to be considered aside from the complicated issues regarding design elements. Is having a multilingual website really worth it?

Do you really need one?

From the point of view of the developer/designer, it is a chance to do business and earn more. You have to think if it will really be worth it to have a multilingual website, as the time to do it and the cost involved would make you think twice.

Web developers will charge more to add several languages to your website. The web designer will be challenged by the creation of the web templates. The content has to be translated so you need to hire a translator.

It will cost you more to have a multilingual website

If you want to add more functionalities to an existing website or have a new one developed, it will cost you a great amount of money to make it multilingual. The features of the website will have to conform to the language mix, including postings for web articles. Each content to be added will have to be translated, and if content is added regularly, then it would mean having a translator on call all the time. If you have customer service, then you have to make sure that you have staff that can answer inquiries in different languages. This will make it too difficult and costly for you.

Difficulty in promotion

Your company’s products and your site’s promotions will also need additional work, since you will have to access language-specific social networks as well. If you have several languages, you have to be ready to address different cultural communities, speaking different languages. If you are targeting the Taiwanese market you need to be active in Plurk, where about 37% of traffic originates. If you want to be active in mainland China, you need to have someone speaking the language and penetrate Weibo, which has 30% share of Internet users, and registered users numbering about 503 million.

Language detection system

The question you need to answer would be whether you want to display just the default language or whether you want the website to have a language detection system, which will also require you to choose the system for detecting the language and decide the specific language depending on the browser language of the user.

The encoding will also be different although easier for the developer. The encoding to be used is UTF-8, which is a character set that works across several operating systems and software. It is a stable encoding system that makes sure that no part of the website encoding will disappear even if the site changes into another language.

Deciding on the default language

It is important when you have a multilingual website to decide which language you will use as your default so that the search engine will not get lost. There will also be some challenges to be faced on the length of words and font sizes as some characters require bigger space.

While no one is stopping you from having a multilingual website, this article just wants to emphasize the issues and challenges that creating one will entail.


About the author:

Day Translations is a translations and interpreting services provider with headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and offices worldwide. Our team of experienced and devoted translators and interpreters are available 24/7 and ready to deliver accurate, perfect and timely translations and interpretations in any language pair in the world.

Today we have another guest post from Brianne Walter.


SEO questions you may ask yourself - what are we doing wrong?How do you optimize your site for getting listed on the first page of search results? This is a question to which every blogger or website owner would love to find the answer. Setting up a site or a blog is not a rocket science. The difficulty lies in promoting a website or blog. With the release of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, most of the websites have been pushed down the search results. The main idea behind these updates was to identify websites with poor quality content and remove the ones with duplicate content.
Are you getting nervous after reading this? Well, just relax. We are going to throw light on what you should do and what not to do for optimizing your site for the search engines.

Important things to consider for search engine optimization

1. Proper Keyword Strategy
If you want your site to get listed in the top results of major search engines, keyword is the first thing you should consider. Use short, easy keywords, Internet users aren’t going to waste time entering a long keyword phrase. They use only few words to search the required topic. Hence, you need to use short keywords while optimizing your web page for the search engines.

Also, add a few misspelled keywords on your site because sometimes users in a hurry type in keywords incorrectly. Some users are not aware of using correct spellings in the keyword.

2. Research
Spend more time on researching the keywords that can improve your search engine rankings. Use free tools like Google keyword search to find out the exact keywords being used by your visitors, how frequently they are being used and which are effective to boost your rankings on it. These keywords should flow naturally in your content and should be relevant to the topic. You could artificially place any choice of keywords, but if they are not related to the topic, not only will you drive away your readers but you also get de-indexed from search engines.

3. Placing of keywords
Make sure to include keywords in your title, first paragraph, headers and the last paragraph. Wherever it is added it should look natural. Search engines quickly identify pages where keywords are repeated a few times. However, don’t stuff your content with too many keywords because increase in your keyword density makes the search engines feel that you are trying to spam.

4. Content is the King
Create content that provides valuable information to the readers. Write in simple language so that even average readers can understand them easily. The title of your content is the first thing that grabs a visitor’s attention so make them catchy and they should reflect your content. Divide the content into short paragraphs and use bullet points wherever applicable. Create an interesting introductory paragraph. When search engines approach your site, the first paragraph is the one that gets scanned for relevant information. Write a strong conclusion that summarizes your content and include your targeted keywords in it. Search engines read the end of your article to make sure it is still related to the topic.

Make sure to update your content as regularly as possible. Implementing a WordPress Blog is an easy way to do this. Updating your blog regularly tell the search engines that you are delivering fresh, interesting and up to date content.

5. Check out your competitors
Visit your competitors’ blogs and find out the techniques they have implemented for better rankings in search results. Apply them to your content. This is the most important trick overlooked by online businesses.

6. Site map
Create a complete site map of your site, which will help both your visitors and search engines at the same time. The site maps carries the history of ALL pages/ posts of your site such as the date the page was last modified, as well as the priority number of what you feel the best pages of your site are. All these details help search engines to index each page of your site properly.

7. Get quality external links
Getting few links from reputed websites is much better than getting more links from poor quality websites.

Common SEO mistakes to avoid

1. Avoid paid Links
Google and other search engines do not pay attention to paid links or similar activities.

2. Avoid black hat techniques
Don’t trick search engines using black hat techniques. If you do so, your site may be penalized for that.

3. Avoid stealing other’s work
Never copy other’s content. Always provide fresh stuff for your visitors. This keeps your visitors coming back to your site for more which is good for search engines.

By following these SEO tips, you can be sure that your website will rank higher in search engines.


Brianne Walter is a freelance journalist who has been writing about mobile technology, customer relationship management and women’s health for more than a decade. These days she is busy to contributes on getamplify