Almudena López

Almudena López

Translator, copywriter and voice-over artist at TransLABtion.

SEO Keyword Localization to Reach Foreign Markets: Tips and Warnings

Keyword localization is important to grow your reach internationally.

Do you have a website to showcase your offerings? And do you operate in foreign markets as well? If so, this article may be of interest to you. Because in today’s interconnected world, businesses are constantly striving to expand their reach and target international audiences. This drive for global growth has given rise to SEO keyword research, a widely extended practice, the importance of which is well understood by companies. However, after spending money and resources on an effective SEO strategy in their native language, many make the mistake of translating them literally into other languages, throwing away the good work made so far.

In this blog post, we will explore why trying to translate keywords verbatim is not an effective strategy for international search engine optimization, and provide you with essential tips for a successful keyword localization strategy.

The Nuances of Language

Language is an intricate tapestry of cultural, historical, and geographical influences. Each language carries its own unique expressions, idioms, and phrasing that may not have a direct equivalent in another language. For example, consider the English keyword “oily fish”. A literal translation of this term in Spanish would be “pescado graso”. However, a native Spanish speaker might be more likely to search for “pescado azul” (“blue fish”) instead. By failing to adapt keywords to the cultural context, businesses miss out on valuable opportunities to reach their audience.

User Intent and Search Behavior

Effective SEO relies on understanding user intent and search behavior, which can vary significantly across different regions and cultures. A literal translation approach fails to capture these nuances, leading to suboptimal search engine rankings and reduced organic traffic.

An actual example of this that I came across in the last keyword translation project I did was the German term “Arbeitsstühle Produktion”. Its literal translation into Spanish would be something like “sillas de trabajo para fabricación” (“work chairs for manufacturing”), but nobody searches that term. Instead, I picked the term “sillas industriales” (“industry chairs”) with 1000 monthly searches, which gives the company a thousand opportunities per month to be found for that term as opposed to zero.

In addition to this, the format and structure of search queries can vary across cultures. While English-speaking users may prefer shorter, concise queries, users in other languages may use longer, more descriptive phrases. By tailoring keywords to the specific search behavior of each locale, businesses can ensure that their content appears in the most relevant search results.

Competitive Landscape

According to a 2016 survey by Wells Fargo, 87% of US firms believe that international expansion is necessary for long-term growth, an impressive amount that can only be expected to have risen by now. With this in mind, it is no wonder that the competition is fierce in the global marketplace, and every advantage counts. For this reason, attempting to translate keywords without considering the local competitive landscape puts organizations at a disadvantage. Competitors who have already embraced SEO keyword localization will have an edge, understanding the specific language nuances and search behaviors of their target market.

Building Brand Trust and Credibility

Trust and credibility are fundamental to any successful business. When engaging with an international audience, building trust becomes even more crucial. Literal translations can undermine a brand’s credibility, making it appear unfamiliar or disconnected from the local market, and this applies to keywords as well. I think we all have come across awkward expressions when visiting a translated version of a company’s website. Would you be as willing to buy from them as you would from a website where the language and content are perfectly fine, as written by natives? I don’t think so.

By investing in proper keyword translation (localization), organizations demonstrate that they understand and respect the target audience’s language and culture, which fosters a sense of trust, ultimately leading to stronger customer relationships and increased brand loyalty.

Furthermore, localized keywords can help businesses establish themselves as thought leaders in specific markets. By using industry-specific terminology and language familiar to the local audience, companies can position themselves as experts, further bolstering their credibility and attracting a loyal following.

Tips for Successful Keyword Localization

Below are some practical tips to ensure your keywords are translated properly.

Conduct Keyword Research for Each Language and Target Country

For SEO, literal translation of your keywords is useless. You should conduct thorough keyword research for each language and target country to gain insights into local search behavior, popular terms, and trends. Tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ubersuggest can assist in identifying keywords, as you can select the relevant languages and countries. Pay attention to keywords that are commonly used by native speakers and look for industry-specific terminology, colloquialisms, and popular search queries.

Turn to Native Translators with SEO Knowledge

As we have said, for SEO to be effective, it needs to talk the users’ language. Native translators are well versed and up-to-date with language trends, neologisms, and industry terminology. However, it is crucial for them to also have SEO knowledge so that they are familiarized with the aforementioned tools and know how to select the right keywords based on their search volume and difficulty.

Create Keyword Glossaries

In the translation industry, we are used to using term bases and glossaries in order to keep terminology consistent among different pieces of content or projects for the same client. Similarly, a glossary of localized keywords is paramount to make sure the keyword density is matched in the target languages, thus keeping an effective SEO strategy.

Always Monitor Website Performance

Keep track of key metrics like organic traffic, search rankings, bounce rate, and conversion rates to assess the effectiveness of your localized keyword strategy.

If certain keywords are not generating the desired results, consider making adjustments. Monitoring website performance allows you to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimize your global reach continuously.


SEO keyword localization is an indispensable aspect of successful international digital marketing. With the right approach, companies can connect with their global audience on a deeper level, boosting search engine rankings, increasing organic traffic, and ultimately driving business growth globally.

At TransLABtion, you will get a localized list of keywords into Spanish (or other languages upon request) with the help of experts specialized in your industry to ensure you obtain high-yielding, easy-to-target keywords to position your business globally. Get in touch for more information!



Share this post

More to explore

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *