localization seo
how to do international seo

SEO Localization Explained

Digitalization is growing at a great pace, and globalization, which has gained importance with digitalization, was reflected in the annual plans of companies as an addition to localization. Localization, which was sufficient on its own in the beginning, had to evolve because search engines were constantly evolving to provide a better user experience. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) localization was born right at this point…

The word SEO has become a term that almost everyone who has a website is familiar with today. This vertical, which has many subheadings and methods, continues to become increasingly popular. In this article, we aimed to answer all the questions of people who want to come up with their SEO localization strategy, are now aware that website localization and SEO are an integral whole, but don't know where to start and are struggling with a lot of questions. In this article;

we have described these titles in detail. If you're ready, let's by start answering your burning questions.

What is SEO?

The word “SEO” stands for ” Search Engine Optimization." The purpose of SEO is to make your website visible to users during searches for your target keywords.

Google ranks first among its search engine competitors with a share of 75% of users, which makes SEO much more important for companies. SEO is a very deep and specialized field with many subdivisions. Today we will focus more on SEO localization rather than SEO in general.

What is a Keyword?

A keyword is a name given to the words or groups of words that users type into the search engine to find a particular service. You can find dozens of different versions of keywords consisting of more than one word. These words are completely formed by the searches that users conduct in the search engine. The most important point to keep in mind here is that a suffix or word added to the keyword makes it a new keyword.

How can I analyze the search habits of my target audience?

You can analyze the searches made by users for the service you provide in search engines by using some digital marketing tools. The two most used of these digital marketing tools are:

Semrush (paid): This tool has many features that will benefit people working on SEO processes. The feature related to our topic is the "Keyword Research Tool," which helps you do a detailed keyword research. This tool allows you to analyze the search habits of the country you want with your target words.

Ubersuggest (free): It has almost the same characteristics as Semrush. This tool's most attractive point is that it is free. The downside is that there is a daily search limit. When you start the process of preparing a detailed keyword list, these limits may extend the completion time of your list. In addition to the ones we recommend, you can find many alternative tools. But the tools you will find may not offer as detailed analysis as the ones we recommend. This may cause you to miss some of your target keywords. That is why it is safe to be meticulous in choosing a tool and to decide by comparing the results you get from several tools with each other.

The steps you need to follow are quite simple after you decide on the keyword tool you will use. First, answer the question: "How to search for your service with a maximum of one or two words?”. Then you select your destination country by typing these words or phrases into the keyword tool, and ta-da, your job is done! Here you can find a list of how users search with combinations of the words you specify. But you should know that not every word on the list you come across means a keyword for your website. Here it is necessary to do a little manual work and scan the keywords that come up and listing the ones that may be useful for your website in a separate document. When you complete this list, you can see how users search for your target words, and you can easily identify the points that will help you improve your business.

What is SEO localization?

It is the process of analyzing and listing the search results of the users in the target language and country of the content and incorporating the analyzed words into the content correctly in the localization process.

In this process, it is of great importance that the keyword lists are prepared correctly before localization. Even if you work with the best translator in the world, an insufficient list of localization keywords will result in a failure of the SEO localization process.

To find out the difference between SEO localization and SEO translation, check out our blog post "SEO Translation and Localization, The Right Way!".

So how should keyword lists be prepared? What should be considered at this stage? Keep reading to get the answers to all the questions you have in mind!

Why is SEO-friendly localization important?

In recent years, global companies have realized the importance of addressing their users in their native language. This insight is reflected in the addition of a new language localization item to companies' annual plans. But most companies have missed a very important point in their localization process - SEO! If you are thinking, “I have already optimized my website content by doing thorough keyword research for the intermediary language before the localization process," then we have some bad news for you. After optimizing your source content with your target keywords, the concepts of content localization and SEO localization are completely different from each other.

We explained the SEO localization to you previously. However, the explanations we have made so far may not have painted a clear picture of what the difference is. We have prepared the table below to show you the dramatic difference between the two methods.

seo website translation

As you can see in the table, localization and SEO-friendly localization are completely different issues, and localization that is not SEO-friendly is doomed to result in the loss of many potential customers. Following the explanations we have provided thus far, we would like to ask you a question. Why give up hundreds of potential customers by choosing localization instead of SEO localization, when your goal of localizing your site is to reach more potential customers?

Who needs SEO-friendly localization?

Everyone who is thinking about going through the localization process.

If you have a plan to do business globally, you must have read dozens of articles about the importance of addressing your users in their native language. You may think that these articles provide you with all the information about why localization is important. In this article, we want to make you look at localization from a different perspective.

Localization is no longer a process that needs to be completed only for users. Nowadays, we are also doing localization for search engines. In fact, localization has two different purposes that complement each other.

  • Providing existing users with an experience no different from their own local experience.
  • Reaching new users worldwide.

The localization process that you have learned and adopted from most of the articles you have read to date can very easily lead you to the first goal. By working with a good localization company, you can execute a very successful localization process and earn your users' trust by giving them an experience no different from their local websites. But no matter how good an experience your users might have, your sales will not grow at the expected rate unless new users are added to the equation.

But can both goals be achieved in one way? The answer to this question is yes. All you have to do is combine localization and SEO. In this way, you will not only provide your users with a good site experience in their own language but also increase the visibility of your site in the search results by speaking the language of search engines and reaching new potential customers.

Should I work with separate companies for SEO and Localization?

You can manage the SEO-friendly localization process in three different ways. These are:

1. You can manage your SEO processes within your own company and work with another company for your localization processes.
Pros: Knowing your target audience allows you to easily determine which words they might use to search for your services in search engines.In addition, you will save time to keep SEO and localization companies in line.
Cons: A certain level of expertise is required to conduct SEO international vocabulary research. If there is no expert in the field of SEO in your company, this may result in the fact that your keyword research is incomplete, and, therefore your company cannot get the efficiency it expects from SEO-friendly localization.

2. You can work with one company for SEO and another company for localization.
Pros: If you work with experts in the field on both sides, you will take firm steps both in the SEO preparation process before localization and in the SEO-friendly localization process.
Cons: Combining two different companies in a single project can bring some process and management challenges. In addition, the fact that your SEO service provider does not have enough control over your services and user base will result in a lack of keyword research.

3. You can work with a company that offers you SEO and Localization as a whole.
Pros: The execution of the SEO-friendly localization process by a single company will give you an advantage in terms of both the time you will spend on the project and the quality of the output.
Cons: Your SEO localization company may not take enough time to understand your services and customer profile. As a result, your keyword list, which is directly proportional to the success of your localization process, may not contain the keywords that it should contain. To ensure that the processes are correct and complete, you must have knowledge of SEO under all circumstances.

How can I prepare for SEO-friendly localization?

Let's look at this process in two parts, namely SEO and localization. If you have decided to carry out the SEO processes within your own company, you can follow the preparation processes below.

1. Conducting a detailed keyword analysis for the source language
Creating a single keyword list for your entire website is not a very effective method. The keywords you are targeting for your sub-pages and home pages will be different from each other. At this point, our recommendation for the most accurate method of progress is as follows:

  • First, an excel file should be created and its columns should be named URL, Keyword, and Monthly Search Volume.
  • Starting from the main page, research should be done for all target word combinations through keyword analysis tools, and keywords matching the target words should be listed.
  • After the main page keyword lists are completed, this process should also be done for the sub-pages. When creating lists, you should avoid listing the same keywords on different URLs as much as possible.
  • The SEO compatibility of the site should be reviewed one last time using the completed lists.
  • As a final step, the keywords used in your content should be made into a separate file. Then your localization keywords should be forwarded to your localization service provider.

2. Conducting detailed keyword analysis for the target language
Perform all the processes that you have completed for the source language, this time for your target language. Here you can find the equivalent of simple keywords in your target language using Google Translate. But this method may not always work well. Sometimes the way services are searched for can vary greatly from country to country. Here, our advice to you will be to get some keyword advice from someone in your industry whose native language is your target language. When you place these recommendations in the keyword tool, all the word combinations will appear.

Hint: If your target language is spoken in more than one country, you should make sure that you do your research for all countries while determining your keywords.

3. Matching the source language and target language keyword lists
This is the most important step in the SEO-friendly localization process. We have listed these steps in order to make it easy for you:

  • First, open your lists containing keywords that you have prepared in the source and target languages and used in your content.
  • Choose a keyword from your source language list and look up the corresponding words in your target language list. You will usually find multiple words as equivalents.
  • The final stage is to decide which of the word equivalents you find will be used. Our suggestion to you is to choose the one with the highest search volume among these words.

After placing the target language equivalents next to all the words in your source language list, you can proceed to the next step.

4. Forwarding the lists you have prepared to your localization service provider
In the last step, you should share the lists you have prepared with the localization provider that you plan to work with. On that side, the process will proceed briefly as follows:

  • A glossary will be created using the documents you have submitted for your project.
  • Thanks to the glossary created, the translators working on your project will have the knowledge of how to translate these words into the target language when they come across the keywords in your text. For detailed information about the SEO website translation processes that start after completing SEO preparations, everything you need to know about website translation, you can take a look at the article we put together.

What should I pay attention to in SEO-friendly localization?

Here are some points that you should consider in preparation for SEO localization and in the localization process.

Title and Meta Description Fields

We can define the Title Tag and meta description fields as the face of your page in search engines. It is very important that your title and meta fields are correctly translated to the target language during the localization process. Because these fields have a direct effect on the click-through rates in the search results. For this reason, it is useful to prepare a separate keyword list for the title and meta fields of all your pages that you will localize during the preparation process. At the end of the process, you will have localized SEO for all these pages in order.

Another important point to keep in mind about this issue is character limitations. Google allows 55 characters, including spaces, in the title fields and 160 characters, including spaces, in the description fields. Even if the title and description fields in your source language are prepared according to the given character classifications, this does not guarantee that there will be no problems in the localization process. For this reason, length of words or sentences can vary greatly from language to language.

So, what happens when your title and description fields are above the character limits? What harm does this do to your site? When your title and description fields are above the specified limit, Google will cut these fields on the search result screen. This will affect your click-through rate by preventing you from correctly getting across your message to your users.

What should you do to avoid this problem? You should make sure that your localization service provider can translate within the title and meta fields, adhering to the Google character limitations. Today, some localization companies, such as MotaWord, which have innovative technologies, have added features such as setting character limits for the texts to be localized to prevent this problem. At this stage, you should also remember to get information from your localization partner that you are considering working with about how they carry out the localization processes of sentences with character limitations.

Alt Tag Fields

What is Alt Tag? Let's answer this question. Alt tags provide Google with information about the content of images found on your site. If you don't use alt tags for your images, they won't be scanned by Google bots. For this reason, SEO-friendly localization of these areas is also a very important step and should not be skipped.


Another point you should add to the SEO-friendly localization process is the URLs of your pages. URL fields are one of the metrics Google uses to calculate relevance between searches and your page. A keyword to be used in these areas can have a direct and positive effect on ranking. For this reason, you should also remember to add URL fields to your SEO localization list.


Using the right keyword in your titles can make a big difference. Let's just talk about why headlines are important. Google bots scan your website using HTML code to understand the content. This scan starts at the top and continues downwards. During this scan, the bots give priority to the headers such as H1, H2, and H3, which are in the HTML code. In other words, Google detects the content of your page by first looking at your titles. For this reason, you should carefully select the keywords that you will use in your titles. Likewise, in your localization processes, you should make sure that the keywords you will use in the titles have good search volume.

Hint: Make sure to use sub-headings in your page content and name these titles as H2, H3, and H4 in your HTML code. In this way, you can increase the power of the keywords you use in the titles and increase your rankings.

What is the cost of SEO-friendly localization?

Your SEO localization cost will vary according to many variables. Your site content, the language(s) you intend to localize your content in, and which of the options we discussed above in the SEO and localization processes you choose will all have an impact on the cost of SEO localization. If you wish, you can set the cost for your localization process. You can find out immediately via our quote page.

So, what can you do to reduce the cost of localization?

- Create TM (Translation Memory). Translation memory is a database where your previously translated content is stored. The effect of translation memory in reducing your localization costs is that you don't have to pay again for duplicate content.
- Mark your content that will not be translated or separate it from the source document. In this way, you will avoid paying extra fees for unnecessary areas.
- Think long term. In translation processes that are likely to be continuous, such as website translation, finding a translation company that will work with you for a long time will save you both time and money in the future.

In order to get more detailed information about this topic, we have explained in detail how you can save time and money on your translation processes, check out our article.

Is it possible to move forward with a freelance translator in SEO-friendly localization processes?

The translator you will work with in your SEO localization process should:

  • Be a native speaker of your target language,
  • Have knowledge of HTML,
  • Have knowledge about SEO,
  • Be familiar with translation tools,
  • Have experience in website translation processes,
  • Be able to work with you for a long time to meet your continuous website translation needs.

It is quite difficult to find a freelance translator who can provide you with all these. In addition, your content must be proofread by another translator to avoid any errors that may occur in translation. In addition, if you are planning to enter the localization process in more than one language, forming your freelance translator team can turn into a torture process for you. All the points we made so far explain to you why you should not proceed with a freelance translator in your SEO localization process.

So, what can a localization company provide for you?

You can quickly find expert translators for all the languages you target; you won't waste time managing the localization process. You don't have to worry about quality once you make sure your localizer does quality control of your content, Thanks to your content being stored in TM (translation memory) for your continuous translation needs, you will not pay for your repeated words or sentences over and over.

Why is MotaWord an ideal SEO localization provider for you?

We can explain to you why you should work with MotaWord in your SEO localization process with 9 reasons:

  • First, you do not need to sign binding contracts to work with MotaWord,
  • Provides easy access to translators in more than 90 languages, more than 20,000 translators, in your target languages, and experts in SEO localization,
  • The SEO-oriented localization process is completed correctly, thanks to the Glossary created specifically for your company using the created keyword lists,
  • Page content and descriptions are translated in accordance with Google rules, thanks to the character limitation feature,
  • You don't need to pay again for your duplicate content, Thanks to TM which is specially prepared for your company for free, and is constantly updated,
  • With an approach called “Collaborative translation,” you don't have to choose between speed or quality. MotaWord offers you both together,
  • MotaWord manages your entire SEO localization process for you,
  • Thanks to Integrations, your translation processes become easier,
  • You can access detailed reports on your projects, earnings, and invoices, which you can access at any time via your user page,
  • MotaWord team is available 24/7 for your last-minute translations or change requests.

Finally, as the MotaWord team, we love to share our knowledge. If you need more detailed information about SEO international processes or SEO localization, all you have to do is contact us by clicking here.

We look forward to working with you on your SEO localization processes.

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Published on Jun 16, 2022 by CANSU OZDUZEN

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