translation, localization, desk, website, seo

SEO Translation vs. Localization: What’s the Difference?

SEO translation and localization are often confused as the same thing because both relate to translation. However, SEO translation and localization are two entirely different processes. While the two do complement each other, each requires a different approach since their goals are specific. Here’s why:

SEO Translation

SEO is a technique to get your website to the top of search engine rankings. Therefore, SEO translation isn’t your typical translation; it’s translating the content on your site in a way that it still performs well in a search even after it’s been converted into the target language.

SEO translation doesn’t need just a translator but also someone who is knowledgeable in SEO tactics. The translator would take into account more than just human readers but how to make a page more attractive to a search engine algorithm. They would focus on the elements of good SEO such as keywords, titles, tags, expressions, script messages, and other attributes that improve the searchability of a web page.

For example, a page may perform well in a search in its original language; however, once its titles are directly translated into the target language, they may lose their ability to rank well.

Keywords play a big role in SEO. If you were to directly translate an English title that has been front-loaded with high-ranking keywords into a different language, the title may no longer be considered optimized for search engines because the keyword is no longer relevant in its new context.


Because translation is often not enough, localization takes translation a step further by doing more than merely directly converting content word-for-word. Localization adapts content on a cultural level so that the audience would never suspect that the copy was not in its original state. The benefits of localization involve an audience who is more engaged because they feel that the content speaks to them directly.

Localization may involve removing wordplay, metaphors, or context that if directly translated into the target language may only cause confusion. Localization involves replacing those with their culturally appropriate versions. Remember, your slogans, puns, and idioms will lose meaning and impact when directly converted into the language of a market which likely has their own expressions.

Choosing between SEO translation and localization largely depends on what your goals are. Translation, even one that is search engine optimized, won’t have the same cultural appeal as content that has been localized. The intent of SEO translation is to improve your searchability while localization’s goal is to make you more relatable to your new audience.

Because both your ability to be found in a search and appealing to the local audience of your new market are both important to your business, it would be ideal to have both SEO translation and localization as you expand your brand to international markets.

Ultimately, globalization of your website is a wise move. However, if you’re going to do it, it should be executed properly. To resonate with your new market, you need to consider their cultural differences. Translating your website for SEO only wins you half the battle. If you’re serious about a multilingual SEO strategy, localizing your SEO rather than merely translating it is the approach that gains you both higher rankings and an engaged audience.