Marketers, entrepreneurs, advertisers, and consultants have all tried facing the duplicate content issue and how will it affects your website Search Engine Optimization. This issue has bothered many people for years and it will still be talked about for a long time.
But there is another side to this issue. Let’s talk about translation too. Is it still going to be considered as duplicate content if it’s just a mere translation of the original piece? And how do Google’s bots see this? Are there consequences of doing so? If yes, what would they be? These questions will be answered below.
Understanding What Duplicate Content Is
First you need to understand what duplicate content is to avoid any issues with it. According to Google, duplication is the ‘substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely matches other content or is appreciably similar’. To put it simply, once you copy content directly from a certain website and then you publish it on your page, this is deemed as a duplicate content. With that, if you have two pages of your site containing similar or the same pieces of content, it will be deemed as duplicate as well. But, you can use a citation or quote on a certain paragraph or two, it won’t do any harm.
Websites that republish press releases, news reports and posts from other websites typically rank higher and more authority. However these types of websites are not treated very well by Google since they are not the original author, and this is classified as a duplicate content in the eye of Google.
However there are some exceptions when it comes to duplicate content. A good example is product pages since they usually contain similar products and details. Google makes sure your SEO efforts won’t suffer and won’t consider them as a duplicate content.
Duplicate Content Penalties
There are a lot of opinions about whether will you get penalized with duplicate content on your website. There are experts who said to avoid duplicate content like a plague while others say that it’s just a myth and that there’s no problem in doing so.
Google dislikes using the “penalty” word and the company does not actually apply penalties to anything. According to a video of John Mueller, Google does not have a duplicate content penalty. Even if your websites contain a lot of duplicate contents, it will not be reduced to the ranks.
This means that having duplicate content will not receive direct punishment. However, you need to understand that Google will not increase your rank. Instead Google will avoid ranking your website and indirectly, this will affect your ranking position. Well, you can say this as a form of penalty if you want to call that way. The point here is that duplicate content can harm your website, period.
This can be a problem for online store owners that are selling similar types of products on different domains. The issue is that product pages would be the same which results in lots of duplicate content.
Can Translations Help? How?
Translations are not duplicate content since they are made for different viewers in mind. A Chinese and English version that is of the same text will be regarded as different content pieces by Google.
However, there are translations that have nuances that need to be remembered to avoid ending up having actual duplicate content on the site.
Firstly, the translations should be written or made by humans and not machine-generated. Translations that are auto-generated are usually terrible and are not better than duplicate content. If you have tried using Google translate, you’ll understand. It sounds gibberish most of the time, with no regard for logic or grammar at all.
Translations are best published on a separate site that is made for a certain region that you want to target. A good example is creating an English website wherein the content targets English-speaking audience since Chinese-speaking audience will look for a different ‘content’. It is also better to have a Chinese version of your website that is on a related domain.
Translations And Best SEO Practices
Translations need you to complete some actions so that SEO can function properly. Here are the top practices that you will want to use:
1. URL Structure For Varied Languages
There are different ways on how to structure the URLs for varied languages, but you need to take note of specific tips that Google has on this matter. It is suggested to choose any of these three options:
- Subdomain for every language
- Subfolder for every language
- A domain that’s country-specific
Google does not recommend the use of the URL parameter for a good reason. The most favorable option here would probably be country-specific domain since it allows you and your visitors experience comfort when accessing or managing the varied versions of your website like yoursite.cn for Chinese-speaking audience and yoursite.com for English-speaking audience.
2. Crawling Sites In Varied Languages
Your webpages in other languages can’t be ranked by Google if it can’t be indexed or crawled by them. Make sure to have the website versions of every page of the site optimized in a way wherein it allows Google bots to perform their tasks properly. This should be your utmost priority when it comes to translations and SEO applications.
3. Stating The Main Language
If you add the hreflang attribute, you allow Google to know which website has that certain language. The code won’t be seen by your web visitors and you can place it on every site that you have. It helps Google direct searchers to the right or most appropriate translated version of your page, which will be based on the audience’s location, search history as well as language preferences.
4. Avoiding Slugs, Particularly In WordPress
There are plugins that won’t allow you to translate the URL slug for every single page or post. This result in the multilingual website visitors that are seeing URLs in English than the language of the website version they want to access. The URL slugs are vital in SEO since primary keywords can be included in them, which is why you need to look for a plugin that can let you translate URL slugs.
5. Configuring Meta And Titles
Meta descriptions and titles are what’s visible to searchers whenever they look for information using a search engine, which is why Meta descriptions and titles must be taken seriously no matter what website version you are working on. Just like your website content, these will need to be translated and include in every page accordingly.
6. Building A Multilingual XML Sitemap
Another excellent SEO practice is the XML sitemap since it can help both Google and you in varied ways. You have a map of how your varied pages are related as well as all their contents and Google bots have additional source of information in your site which allows them to crawl and index your pages better. Google has certain requirements on how you must format them when it comes to multilingual XML sitemaps.
7. Content For Different Countries
Whether it’s a translation done by humans or a machine, the problem with it is the keywords used in the original content may not be similar to the ones used in the translation. Varied languages don’t usually have direct translations of the frequently used phrases, with this, you must research the feature of your content or you can also ask the translator before you decide to publish the finished piece.
8. Google Search Console’s International Targeting Report
Google Search Console is considered a priceless tool that provides many functions in allowing you to control your website and access insight with regards to its performance. There is also another tool for international targeting that you can utilize when you publish your multilingual content.
9. Localization for Different Regions
It’s true that translation is important but localization should not be set aside. For example, users in Australia might be using diverse words than those users in Singapore when naming a same thing. It’s like the word ‘soccer’ and ‘football’. Although it’s talking about the same thing, people in different countries with the same language may call it differently.
10. Cultural Effects and Messaging
Although this has been noted, it deserves a separate section for discussion. Normal practices for a country may be deemed inappropriate for another. Whenever you translate content or when you begin writing, bear in mind the different social norms and mindsets that individuals in countries have. More so, keep in mind on the messaging too. What do you want to say? Your viewers from other countries may feel that the issues are not relevant for them or just merely outdated.
11. Strategy, Campaign, and Research
Finally, you need to be aware of what you are doing. You need a clear plan and strategy for your digital marketing campaign. Don’t just ‘go with the flow’ as it is not always effective across businesses and industries. Begin with a research and know what your target audience wants. Get to know the common problems they have, the keywords that you need to use for ranking. These are simple things that most site owners often neglect when translating their content.