International Education SEO Marketing Translated Web Content
From ICEF Monitor on web content and SEO for international education marketing and recruitment:
‘Lost in translation: the challenge of delivering web content in many languages. Sooner or later every international recruiter has to address an important communications challenge: to what extent do you translate your website (or other online communications) into the language of your target audiences?
English may be the lingua franca of the Internet but persistent questions swirl around the issue of translation (or “localisation” in a web context):
- Is there a competitive advantage to be had from translating some or all of our website content into one or more languages?
- Would it make a difference with respect to search engine optimisation (SEO) for key target markets?
- Would it help us to reach non-student audiences, especially parents or other family members who have an important role to play in study abroad decisions?
At first glance, it may seem like the ready solution is to invest in a full-fledged site translation project targeting priority markets. But as so many institutions can attest to, the feasibility of this rapidly falls away when its complexity begins to reveal itself. Just for starters, there are the issues of:
- How do we deal with the sheer size and scope of larger institutional websites?
- How many languages should we tackle?
- How flexible is the site’s design and how good is its file management system?
- How much is the institution prepared to invest in data management and SEO for each target market?
This ICEF Monitor article looks at smart ways to ensure your institution is reaching out to students (and their parents) in their own language without going down a full website translation path.
….This isn’t to say that those with English as a second language wouldn’t rather have institutions translate their websites to their native tongues. In fact, a recent Eurobarometer survey found that 90% of EU Internet users prefer to use sites in their own language…
Beyond the online language translator
An online translator is a good first step, but it is not likely as far as an internationally minded education institution is going to want to go. The Eurobarometer study cited above clearly indicates that non-English Internet users appreciate as much content as possible in their native tongue.
The next steps, if you are not going to translate an entire site into various languages, revolve around important strategic questions:
- Which international markets are the top priorities? Where are most international students coming from now, and where does the institution want them to come from in the future?
- Which content is the most important for translation – both in terms of the necessity of students understanding it and the optics of the endeavour (e.g., the wish to project a warm, culturally inviting image)?
- Which methods are best for conveying the chosen content?
- What needs to be done for SEO so that content intended for certain markets gets found there?
What should be done regarding SEO?
With online search a major factor in students’ discovery and choice of educational institution, and SEO techniques evolving daily, it’s no wonder why one of our most popular articles to date is “SEO: Why it’s so important in student recruitment and 10 simple tips to get started.”
But as we touch upon in that piece, localisation and SEO translation are entirely different projects. The website SEO Translator further explains:
Localisation: “translating your web pages for a different culture, meaning human beings that live in a different society.”
SEO translation: making sure “keywords, expressions, titles, tags, anchor texts, script messages, and every single attribute on a web page are translated so as to make the page attractive for the search engines in the target language.”
On that note, don’t forget to see our previous article on the importance of SEO optimisation to the goal of nudging students along the conversion path.’
- Many related issues e.g. how many job descriptions reflect the need for other language and SEO skills?
- How many prospective candidates are actually in their home country? Is it not their language which should be targetted due to local circumstances e.g. mobility in EU and internationally?
- Do international marketing managers understand differences between eMarketing (email) and discrete digital campaigns (Google Adwords/Facebook) vs SEO leveraging all digital resources continually?
- Are there any benchmarks or evaluation frameworks for international managers to analyse and assess digital channels for information and decision making e.g. social media, agent websites etc.?
- How well is web marketing content generation integrated e.g. student testimonials and feedback in own language?
- What are the practical resource friendly ways for digital marketing and SEO e.g. other language landing pages linked to social networks to increase visibility all year round?