Why take an SEO optimisation course as a translator?
As a food and drink, food tourism and food education translator I swapped wine translation for an SEO optimisation course. Why would I?
My first reason was personal. I have a website and a blog and there’s no point in having either if people cannot find you. I had attended an SEO webinar via the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, a webinar by Boulder SEO marketing, and read the odd article. I was familiar with keywords, meta tags, character limits and why they exist. I even used it for my website sometimes, but it’s time-consuming and a work in progress.
My main reason, though, was professional. Localising website materials is a big part of marketing translation and I recently worked on a food blog localisation project. As it’s the norm among LSPs, we were given an SEO table with the keywords to use in the translation and very brief notes saying where to include them.
Months into the project someone was surprised to hear about character counts for the meta title and meta description when I asked a related question in our forum. The person who supposedly knew more about SEO checked that we had included the keywords in the text, but, when I asked a couple of questions, I received made up answers. Answers that were wrong.
So, there you go, that’s why I transferred from wine translation to SEO translation, because I’m not one for copying things out of a table without asking myself questions (something that will only lead to errors), because I wanted to know more and have reliable answers.
What the course was like
The course spreads over five weeks and it’s recommended you dedicate fifty hours of study. It felt quite lightweight in the first couple of weeks compared to my previous long culinary translation course, but, once you start the practical assessments, a lot of time is spent thinking the tasks through, particularly the final one.
You can PDF the online course materials for future reference, but the layout of these web PDFs is not pretty. So, I found myself studying online rather than on my laptop at the dining table as I had done for my culinary translation course, where proper PDFs were provided. But it was good in a way, because I felt a sense of achievement progressing from screen to screen, which also divides the content into smaller chunks.
As well as divided into manageable chunks, the course content is very clearly written. As well as that, the tutor has helpfully recorded short video clips to present some keyword research tools, making it livelier. Suggested reading is also provided, though I admit that, compared to food or wine translation, it’s harder to jump onto it, but useful!
This consists of various tasks. The first two are multiple choice tests that check your understanding of the theoretical concepts and ability to use the SEO research tools. Together, they make 30% of your final grade. They’re not a pot-luck multiple choice questionnaire; you will need to think hard to answer the questions and, in many cases, these are practical and you have to go and use tools to answer them. On seeing my first test, I thought I’d be done in five minutes; how wrong was I!
Then you have two practical tasks that help you prepare for the final assessment. They represent 30% of the final mark, so you’ll need to do them properly! The final assessment counts 40% and it’s a bit of a mammoth enterprise where you have to do all the SEO research and copywriting for a list of URLs for a specific brand.
These practical tasks help you understand how long it might take you to complete different types of SEO jobs and how much you might want to charge for each of them (no prices were discussed). They include:
- Trialling a variety of keyword research tools, preparing you for your job as a professional multilingual SEO translator.
- Using specialist keyword research tools together with specialist SEO knowledge and old common sense to conduct keyword research and select relevant and effective keywords for a particular purpose.
- Keyword localisation: incorporating into a translation a list of keywords researched by someone else. You’re left to work with that even though you might not have the whole picture.
- Metadata generation: writing appropriately optimised meta titles, meta descriptions, URLs and ALT tags incorporating relevant keywords.
- On page SEO, for example, writing H1s and in-links.
- Content optimisation: updating and optimising client’s old non-optimised content.
- SEO translation: keyword research and optimised translation by the same person.
- SEO copywriting: keyword research and copywriting by the same person.
Answers to questions were prompt and professional and I always got the feeling that the tutor knew what he was talking about. Answers tended to be short and to the point, but the feedback for the assessed tasks was detailed and always well-justified with either examples or reasoning. The marking was always strict but fair, and I say that as someone with a twenty-year career in teaching.
Aula’s courses only run a few times a year so they recruit a group of students. This is good because you can learn a lot from fellow participants’ questions and reflections. In this case, it was mainly me asking questions in the forum, but others felt happier in the video tutorial. All in all, compared to my culinary translation course with Trágora, it felt less like one-to-one private tutoring with detailed discussions and more like a course. There are pros and cons to both, I imagine. Also, each tutor will be different.
What I learnt
I remember thinking when I temped as an audio typist a long time ago, that I did not want to be the secretary, I wanted to be the trademarks attorney or the employment lawyer writing the stuff I was typing. It’s the same with translation, I want to be helping clients find solutions, be able to discuss them with them, be the added value, not a line worker. I’m not saying those people don’t have skills, but I want a different type of involvement.
Rather than copying and pasting key words and meta information from a sheet, I can now offer a more comprehensive service, that is, research keywords, make informed decisions about them and start offering SEO localisation alongside translation services to direct clients, perhaps small companies. What’s more, when collaborating with an LSP, I can spot problems more easily, even if I could already spot them before, as we saw at the start. So, it’s a win for me, for direct clients, and for LSPs.
Who the course is suitable for
This course would be for you if:
- You have no SEO knowledge (or only a foundation, as I did).
- You translate into Spanish. The tasks require you to research keywords in Spanish, copywrite in Spanish and translate into Spanish.
- As a translator, you want to learn to use SEO for personal purposes.
- You want to understand how SEO works and be able to offer international SEO services to direct clients.
- You may have worked on SEO texts for a translation agency, mainly copying and pasting keywords into your text; the person being paid for the SEO, an SEO specialist with no knowledge of the foreign language in question. Ever seen what looks like keywords researched by one person, text written by another, and translation done by a third person? Imagine the benefits of being able to wear the three hats!
There’s a lot of free SEO info online, but following this course you get:
- To ask questions to a translator who has worked in SEO localisation for several years.
- Organised materials. All you need to do is read them, make your own notes if you like (I do) and complete the exercises.
- Expert feedback on simulated real-life tasks.
- A graded certificate of achievement to present to clients.
- A portfolio of graded tasks with feedback.
So, your call. Do you want to be a keyword pusher or a keyword planner? Do you want to be a line translator or a translator with a hat of tricks?