Digital marketing: transcreation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a highly complex subject about which countless articles could be written. Here is the third instalment. In our first post about multilingual SEO, my colleague Carlos Bolívar introduced us to this complex world and told us about the basic rules for the technical and linguistic sides of SEO. We, as translators, are especially interested in the linguistic side of SEO, so in the second post about writing content, my colleague Sandra Lara focused on using and choosing keywords, which is essential when trying to achieve good search engine rankings.

Now it is time to talk about how you translate and write when you work with SEO: it is the turn of transcreation.

What is it?

This term, which is relatively new but becoming increasingly common, refers to a union between translation and creation, since the need to adapt a text to the target culture means that it is often necessary to recreate or rewrite the text so that both versions achieve the same goal. It is easy to understand if you consider poetry or advertising; full of wordplay, cultural references and overtures to the reader; characteristics that often mean that you have to stray from the original text and turn to creative strategies so that the same effect is achieved in the different languages. We are not just talking about a free translation, but rather a creative rewriting of the content to achieve cultural adaptation.

What has this got to do with SEO?

One of the key factors that help you in search engine optimisation is for the website to offer high-quality, appealing, interesting content that is adapted to its target audience, because this will give you a higher profile on the internet and improve your SEO. When a website goes global, the aim is to reach audiences who speak other languages, so you have to adapt it and make sure that you have content that works for the new audience. Also, you must not forget that you have to include your keywords (it is worth pointing out that each page on the website needs to have different keywords that describe it, so you have to create different content on each page and insert the respective keywords).

So this is where things get tricky: you have to find keywords that work in each culture and translate (transcreate) the content of the website so that you get text that is appealing and interesting for the new audience while, at the same time, meeting the requirements of the search engine so that it takes your website into account and indexes it. This includes using suitable keywords within the text. All of these constraints that website translators have to overcome lead us to talk about a controlled language, adapted to both the search engine and the user.

How to transcreate

When working with SEO, the translator may also be tasked to write the content of the website from scratch (keyword research may or may not have already been performed, but we will talk about that in another blog). In this case, the translator does not have to transcreate, but rather write the content, taking into account the instructions given by the client (what they want to convey or promote, their target audience etc.), the characteristics inherent to the target culture and the insertion of suitable keywords, while at the same time bearing in mind that this is digital marketing. As for the transcreation of content that has already been written in another language, the only difference is that you start off with a text that serves as a reference, and the source text takes a back seat, with new text that has been adapted to the target culture being created.

Therefore, before writing or transcreating web content, you have to take the following into account:

– The instructions and characteristics of the client: what they want to promote, what image they want to portray, their target audience (geographical boundaries, age), etc.

– The characteristics inherent to the target culture: both cultures must be analysed so that cultural references can be found that work for the new audience; creativity, originality and a good grasp of the language are essential for this.

– Digital marketing: marketing strategies are changing as business changes. New digital marketing no longer merely seeks to convince the consumer, but also to interact and communicate with them. It focuses on the customer’s experience, on eliciting emotions from them and on interaction with the company (comments, blogs, social networks etc.). You have to stand out from the competition and get the customer’s attention, so it is essential to analyse your competitors and their SEO strategies.

– Using keywords: each page’s main keyword should be inserted at the beginning and repeated twice or three times in the text. The other keywords should be included at least once, by order of priority. You should concentrate them in the first few paragraphs and, above all, do not overuse them; if the search engine detects that you are overloading the text with keywords, it will penalise you and all of your efforts will have been in vain.

– Suitable writing:the text should sound natural and fluent, without spelling mistakes and it must not be too short (around 400 words per page).

Now that you are clear about that, all you have to do is immerse yourself in the cultures involved and in the client’s idea and let your creative juices and originality flow to create a text that will win over internet users, search engines and, of course, your client.

Transcreate!

Nowadays, with companies needing to go global and appear at the top of search engine results, this is becoming a priority. Therefore, there is a growing demand for professionals who know how to effectively adapt their websites to the cultures of new target audiences, thus ensuring an increase in sales and that their product is offered in other countries. Many translators are yet to identify the career opportunity that is opening up for them in this field, so I urge you to learn about and research this fascinating subject. Also, you may discover a world in which you can unleash your creativity, increase your opportunities and become more competitive professionals.