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SEO Translator Beginner's Guide [2023]

If you are a translator taking your first steps into the world of SEO, you may be wondering how you can learn about SEO translation to start offering new services such as keyword research and keyword localisation. 


It can be a great idea to read an SEO Beginners' guide (type "SEO beginners guide" on Google and you will get some amazing free resources), but you do not need to be an SEO expert to provide SEO translation because you will play a very specific role in the wider SEO strategy of a website.  


I have worked with tens of marketing agencies, LSPs and direct clients providing SEO services in Spanish and English since 2015. And the truth is that my knowledge of SEO back then was limited, and I did not know much about things such as cannibalisation, hreflangs or 301 redirects.

Every week I get messages from translators wanting to learn SEO. Their most common question is 'How can I start learning about SEO translation?' In this guide, I will share everything you need to know to become an SEO translator. Let's dive in! ​

SEO Translator Beginner's Guide

What is an SEO translator?


SEO translators translate website content using the most popular keywords in the target language and make sure the content is optimised for search engines such as Google. Their job focuses on picking the right keywords and creating well-structured text to help Google understand what a website is about. Their tasks usually are:

  • Keyword research

  • Keyword localisation

  • SEO Translation

  • Creating meta titles and meta descriptions (metadata)

  • Translating Alt Tags

5 skills an SEO translator needs to master

     1. Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of finding the most relevant keyword(s) for a particular webpage. Your client will provide you with a list of web pages and you will have to find one or more keywords for each page.

You will need access to (paid) keyword research tools to conduct your research. My three favourite tools are:

  1. Semrush 

  2. Ahrefs

  3. Mangools


(Yes, in that order!)

These tools gather data about search terms used online and provide information for each keyword such as search volume (the number of people making a specific query on Google in a particular language and/or country) and keyword difficulty (a metric that estimates how hard it is to rank for a keyword in Google's top 10).

How do you do multilingual keyword research?

Here are 4 basic steps:

  1. Identify the main theme/keyword of each webpage in your target language, for example, 'Yellow Gold Wedding Rings'; this theme/keyword will be your 'seed keyword'. 

  2. Enter this 'seed keyword' into the keyword tool.

  3. Analyse the results and pick up the keywords that you think are most useful. *

  4. If you don't find any relevant keywords, use a different seed keyword, for example, 'Yellow Wedding Rings' and repeat the process.


* The criteria for keyword selection is

  1. relevance to the specific URL

  2. average monthly search volume

  3. keyword difficulty

Watch this video to learn how to do multilingual keyword research following the 4 steps above. 

     2. Keyword Localisation


Keyword localisation is similar to keyword research, but they are not the same. When doing keyword localisation, you will be provided with a list of keywords in the source language. For example:

Keyword Localisation Table

Usually, you will be asked to provide a "literal translation" of such keywords, as well as two related alternative keywords (Keyword 1 and Keyword 2) that you will find out by using a keyword research tool.

Keyword Localisation Template

The criteria for keyword selection are the same as mentioned in the previous section for keyword research.

     3. SEO Translation


You will be provided with keywords to use in the SEO website translation (someone else may do the keyword research or keyword localisation or you will do it before you start the translation).

Once you have a list of keywords (very similar to a traditional glossary), you will use the terms in a natural way, without stuffing the website with unnecessary repetitions that will put off Internet users. 

How do you do SEO Translation?

First, you need to pick one primary keyword for each webpage and use this keyword to help Google understand what the specific page is about. This is how you use a primary keyword:

  • In the H1 (the H1 is usually the heading of the page)

  • In the first paragraph if possible

  • In the rest of the text, but without forcing it


Then you may select other keywords (related to the primary keyword) that you may use as the secondary or tertiary keyword.

This is how you use a secondary or tertiary keyword:

  • In the H2(s) (the H2s are usually the subheadings of the page)

  • In the paragraph(s) below the corresponding H2(s)


4. Creating meta titles and meta descriptions


The meta title and meta description of a webpage are usually referred to as metadata: the information that describes what a webpage is about on the search results of search engines like Google.

meta title and meta description example

How do you create meta titles and meta descriptions?

The most common approach is to select one different primary keyword for each specific webpage and use it in the meta title and the meta description. Including the keywords in the metadata will help Internet users know that they are on the right path to find what they are looking for, so it is more likely that they will click on it and visit the website. 


Tips when creating metadata:

Meta title

  • It is as relevant as possible for the page.

  • It contains 40-60 characters including spaces.


Meta description 

  • It describes the landing page well.

  • It includes a CTA.

  • It contains 140-156 characters, including spaces.

Your clients will usually provide the metadata in the source language and you will need to translate and adapt it to include the relevant keywords.

     5. Alt Tags


An Alt tag is the information that describes the image of a webpage, and it is used for people who cannot view the image. 


Since images usually represent relevant things that the content talks about, translators just need to describe what the image is about. If the description (up to 60 characters) includes a relevant keyword for the page, even better.  A valid Alt tag for the image on the top of this page will be "The 5 skills of an SEO translator".

What can you do to become an SEO translator?

Optimizing your own website can be a great place to start practising what you learn online. For example, you can make sure that you are not targeting the same keyword on all your pages or using the same keyword in the metadata of all your pages.

Well-known LSPs usually have an SEO expert in-house, so if you are providing SEO services for the first time that person should be able to resolve your doubts along the way. And do not feel you need to know everything: If you do not have previous experience, you will not be asked to implement hreflangs or do technical stuff, you just need to know the basics.  

SEO Translation Training

What about an SEO Translation course? If you are not confident to provide SEO translation services yet and you would like to do an SEO course, I have had the pleasure of organising a Translation Workshop (I hope it is okay with you to promote my course, but if not, you can ignore this, no hard feelings). In this workshop you can learn: 

  • How SEO and translation work together

  • How to use keyword research tools

  • How to do keywords research

  • How to do SEO Translation

  • How to write metadata


Find out more about my SEO Translation Workshop here!

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