Keyword Research and SEO Translation – by David García Ruiz

This is not another post about basic SEO techniques for boosting your site’s ranking on Google. Instead, in this post, I’m going to explain why keyword research and international SEO campaigns often need the assistance of translators to deliver the best results, and why keyword research and SEO translation can be an added service you offer your clients. But first, let’s understand what they are…

Keyword Research

A keyword or keyword phrase is one or more words that people use on search engines like Google. For example, imagine you’re in London looking for a restaurant and you type “Best restaurants in London” into Google – this is a keyword (four words long).

Keyword research is the process you undertake to find out the keywords people use when looking for specific product or service online. How does this relate to translation? Before starting the translation of your website, you need to know what your customers are searching for in the target language.

By doing keyword research, you can find out the most relevant keywords your international customers use in local search engines such as or

Let’s use the search term “wedding ring” as an example. In the UK, over 74,000 people use this term in searches each month. The Spanish equivalent is “anillo de boda“, but only 5,400 people in Spain use that keyword every month. This doesn’t mean that people in Spain don’t search online for products related to wedding rings. It does mean that the term “anillo de boda” isn’t the term they search most often….

Language geek time!

In actual fact, in the Spanish language, the term “alianza” is used to refer to a wedding ring; surprise surprise, when we change the search term to accommodate this, we see that there are almost 10,000 searches each month using this term instead on

What can clients learn from this example? If they just translate “wedding ring” literally and use “anillo de boda”, they’re missing out on 9,900 potential clicks going to their website.

Multilingual keyword research

Multilingual keyword research requires a deep understanding of the local terminology of the target country, as well as solid knowledge of SEO principles. While keyword research is an inbound marketing technique (which is often thought of as a job for marketers), the question is the following:

Will marketers learn a new language and the habits of a new culture or will translators learn the insights of SEO to perform keyword research?

For obvious reasons, keyword research can be an added service for translators. If you want to learn more about this technique, here are some great resources: or

SEO Translation

Moz defines International SEO as…

“the process of optimizing your website so that search engines can easily identify which countries you want to target and which languages you use for business”.

In other words, international SEO means using keywords appropriately within the content and code of a website. Obviously, this content and code can be in different languages.

Once you have a list of relevant keywords for the website you’re translating, you need to incorporate them into the translation in a natural way. “Incorporating” relevant keywords into existing website content is known as “optimisation”.

With this in mind, and borrowing the idea of optimisation, SEO translation refers to the process by which the translation “incorporates” the relevant set of keywords in the target language matching each keyword in the source language.

Keeping with the wedding theme, let’s say we have the sentence “A wedding ring is the ultimate symbol of love”. If we just translate “wedding ring” by its (literal, no keyword research) equivalent in Spanish “anillo de boda”, we simply won’t capture all potential website traffic. In practise this means incorporating both Spanish keywords (“alianza” and “anillo de boda”) in the translation. In a nutshell, you cover all bases.

One important point to bear in mind is that stuffing any and all possible translations of the terms found in your keyword research simply won’t work. SEO translation must be done in a way that flows for the reader – so you don’t put customers off – and is appropriate for search engines, since the overuse of keywords can lead to penalties and have a negative impact on your website’s ranking.

To sum up, keyword research and SEO translation often complement translators’ services. With our in-depth knowledge of language and localisation, adding these skills to our repertoire is definitely worthwhile, as the results for our clients are clear, demonstrable and valuable. If keyword research and SEO translation can seem a bit confusing at first, don’t worry, once you’ve completed a few projects it will make perfect sense. Promise.

keyword research

Born and raised in Spain, David García Ruiz has lived in the UK since 2011 and runs his translation business from Swansea. He is a professional Italian/English into Spanish translator and specializes in marketing and SEO translation. He holds an MA in Translation from Swansea University and is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, as well as an Associate Member of the Institute of Translation & Interpreting.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with him via his website

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