Getting Google on your side with SEO

When you’re working on your own online presence or writing or translating copy for your clients to use on the web, SEO is the key to visibility. You probably know that SEO stands for search engine optimisation, but do you know what exactly it involves? Here’s a brief introduction and our top tips for translators and copywriters.

Illustration with laptop, data and magnifying glass

What exactly is SEO?

The name ‘search engine optimisation’ is actually a bit misleading. It’s not about optimising Google, Bing and Yahoo but the websites that need to be found on those search engines. More often than not, SEO refers to the steps taken to improve search rankings on Google, the most popular search engine in the world.

To present search results, Google searches the web with automated programs called web crawlers, before analysing and indexing the pages it has learnt about by crawling. The internet is overloaded with information that needs to be sorted in some way if anyone is to find what they are looking for. Google relies on algorithm ranking systems based on many factors, including the keywords used in a search, the relevance and usefulness of a page, the expertise of sources and the user’s location and settings.

Apart from looking at relevant words in the title, body text and metadata (see below), the systems also analyse text based on its quality, difficulty in consideration of the target audience, readability and usability. By considering these factors in your writing, you can improve a website’s ranking and boost its visibility in search results.


So how do I do SEO?

As a general rule of thumb, Google looks favourably on websites that have been designed with their users in mind. That means providing a short and informative summary of the site content on the homepage and keeping the URL structure clear, for instance. Most importantly of all, though, you need to include relevant keywords and produce high-quality content.

Keywords are the words and phrases that people might use to search for and find your website. You should settle on one or two keywords for every page on your website and then include them in the main copy and the meta title. Make sure that you use different keywords for each page of your website to avoid forcing your pages to compete with each other.

It’s important that keywords always fit in with the website’s content. Using keywords solely on the basis that they are probably often used in searches won’t achieve much. And nor will repeating keywords over and over again in an attempt to improve the ranking.

Like the keywords, the content also needs to be relevant and give the user added value. High-quality copy encourages people to spend longer looking at a website – another factor that determines the Google ranking. If you craft good copy, it’s also more likely that other websites will link to yours and that can only be good news for your ranking.

SEO in the world’s languages

English may be the language of the internet, but only 30% of web users actually speak it as their first language. Businesses looking to target an international customer base need to create a multilingual website and that means they need to think about SEO in more than one language. It’s no surprise that the demand for SEO-optimised language services is growing fast.

Have you ever thought about the fact that website localisation and multilingual SEO go hand in hand? Unfortunately, what we’re seeing all too often is website copy simply being pasted into a Word or Excel document and run through a CAT tool like any other text for translation. Sure, this method produces lots of lovely multilingual websites. But if those websites don’t feature the right keywords for the target market, they won’t appear on SERPs (search engine results pages) and the world won’t even know they exist.

Localising keywords

As more and more customers are getting wise to the fact that they need to think about SEO, we are seeing more and more requests for keywords to be localised as part of website translation projects. The first step is to translate the keywords literally into the target language. We can then check the search volume of the translated keywords using a free tool called Keyword Surfer. This browser extension shows the search volume directly in the Google search bar. So now we can search for the translated keywords and check their search volume for the Swiss market (you can select the country settings in the tool):

Once we’ve done that initial research, we can try to find similar keywords with a higher search volume. We also include a back translation for the client’s benefit.

If you ever need to come up with alternative keywords, there are several tools you can use for inspiration. The most obvious option is to use good old Google! Just type in your keyword and see what suggestions it comes up with.

Relevance and competition

It’s not all about the search volume when you’re trying to find the best keywords. You also need to consider 1) the relevance of a keyword for the website content and 2) the competition or keyword difficulty – a metric used to determine how difficult it is to rank at the top of the SERP for a particular keyword. The most lucrative keywords strike the perfect balance between search volume, competition and relevance. With that in mind, most businesses invest in longer, more specific keywords known as long-tail keywords.

Whilst most long-tail keywords may have a low search volume, they involve less competition than short-tail keywords because fewer websites will be trying to attract visitors with the exact same keywords. What’s more, the conversion rate – the number of purchases (conversions) divided by the total number of visitors – tends to be higher because more specific search terms are more relevant and the customers using them are more likely to know exactly what they’re looking for.

Where do the keywords go? 

Once you’ve worked out the keywords you need to use, you’ll have to start thinking about placing them strategically throughout the website. The spots listed below promise the greatest success.

Meta title and meta description

These are the short texts that are shown in the search results or under the link. Somebody’s decision to click on a search result – or not – is influenced heavily by these texts. They act almost like a shop front for the website, with the idea to encourage passers-by to step inside and have a browse around. The meta title and meta description don’t actually appear on the website itself.

→ Read more on metadata optimisation
→ Check out this tool for previewing the meta title and description in the search results

Website title
Keywords can be placed in the main title that you can see on the web page. You may want to include something like a product name, a product category or the title of a blog post. Remember that the title tells the reader exactly what’s on the page. It should make them want to keep reading!

Page content
You should use all your keywords in your page content. It’s best to break up long chunks of text with punchy subheadings, which guide the reader and are looked on favourably by search engines. Images are another effective way of breaking up a page and they improve the overall look and feel too. You can add alt text to describe any visual elements. Whilst it won’t be displayed on the web page, it will be read out to anyone using a screen reader. Interestingly, this text can also be used to boost the Google ranking.

Useful links

Did you enjoy reading this post? Have you tried your hand at SEO? Send us an email to

Achieving goals together

  • A reliable partner

    It’s very easy to process jobs in our portal myFREELANCE and you can look forward to punctual, monthly payments.
  • Your link to Apostroph

    With Apostroph, you will have personal contact with our project management employees. They will answer your questions and help you process your orders.
  • The Apostroph community

    A lively exchange, exciting and entertaining contributions in the Language Lounge and continuing education opportunities are what make our community what it is.