International PPC: Difficulties in translation or why we need search linguists

As a part of the international team, at Point It, I frequently have to deal with keywords and ads localizations. While online translators, especially Google Translate, are great tools and real time and money savers, the quality of translation is still questionable. Translation agencies are definitely a better option, but unfortunately we have found that some of them fail to understand that localizing for international paid search campaigns involves more than just literal translation of key terms and ads into the target language based on the original English template. Other aspects to consider include search habits or cultural/language differences. When it comes to localizing materials for international search campaigns or SEO, people who know both search and language are your best match.

Keywords localization

For languages like Russian you will certainly need a linguist. Unlike English, Russian has numerous noun cases, three grammatical genders and distinguishes between perfective and imperfective aspect in verb. Let’s say we want to translate the keyword “best deal” in Russian. Google Translate will translate it literally as “лучшее предложение”. However, search linguists know that this is not what Russians will be searching for. They most likely will be typing in phrases like “выгодно купить”, “выгодно купи”, “спецпредложение онлайн” etc. In other words, utilizing a professional search linguist will help not miss valuable synonyms when doing the keyword research in other language. While synonyms play an important role, it is also important not to forget about adding in plurals and different grammar forms. In German, many words change in plural like, for example, das Haus (house) –die Häuser (houses), das Visum (visa) – die Visa (visas).

Useful tip:

If you are doing a keyword research for other search engines, like Yandex I would highly recommend not to rely on AdWords keyword planner only, but use that engine’s specific keyword research tool. As I was once told by our Yandex account representative, Google and Yandex are two different systems and each of them works best with their own parent keyword tool. For the Russian search engine, I prefer to use Yandex Wordstat and Magadan Keyword Parser. For German and French languages, Google’s Keyword planner and Übersuggest are my first choice.


Ad copy localization

It always amazes me how some companies use online translators to translate an ad copy. For me, it is a big “no-no”. Ads are the company’s face and they should be creative, professional, and grammatically correct. They should appeal to your target audience and not to look questionable or unprofessional. Another issues I have noticed with some translation agencies is literal translation and omitting important words in the ad copy to fit the character limit.
Conversely, search linguists will know that how important it is to keep, say, free shipping or free returns in the ads. They will also help figure out how to create a strong ad copy and keep/replace long German words like, for example, “Kaffeevollautomaten” (coffee machines) or “Haushaltsgeräte”, because if you want to use them in the headline, your character limit of 25 will be eaten up quickly.

The success of international paid search campaign depends on many aspects including keywords and ads and getting them right is crucial. Utilizing a search linguists will not only help ensure that all translations were done accurately and correctly, but also be confident that nothing important got missed out in your ad copy and everything was done using paid search rules and best practices.

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