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    Foreign keywords in english site: how to avoid duplication and worse ranking?


    Hi guys, I'm I work at the website of the company I work for. I add content, pictures, videos and also do some web marketing (with a very limited budget...basically zero)
    I'm not an expert in SEO but I'm trying to learn.

    The website is currently available in Italian, English and German, but we export worldwide.

    It's structured with "country stores", so people can choose the nation and the language at the beginning of the navigation, then the website changes a few things depending on the choice (prices, shipping costs) but the content remains the same.

    Recently I tried to add foreign language keywords (Spanish and French) manually to the english pages to see how google and other SEs would react.
    The results were very good, we got from nowhere to be seen to the 1st places using those languages, both in google.com and google.es and .fr.

    I proposed to add those generic (but specific for our genre of products) keywords automatically to all the pages of a specific country.

    For example the French Country store will have the same french keywords etc coupled with a few key caracteristic of that product added manually, included the name of it... the same for the main languages so spanish, portoguese, chinese, russian, maybe arabic and japanese (our main markets).

    Do you think It's a risk, that google may see that as duplicate content and declass our ranking? That's what our website design company told the owners...so they can ask for more money to use a more time consuming system that also won't work very well in my opinion (changing the keywords for all the procucts, one by one, almost manually)

    Help me out because the owners of the company tend to trust more this company than me just because they pay them (a lot).

    Thanks in advance!
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    I'd be happy to advise, but I'm not sure I follow what you want to do. It sounds like the web hosting company want's to manually optimize each product page for unique keywords, but I don't follow exactly what your idea was. Could you clarify?

    Thanks.
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    Originally Posted by lesterj
    I'd be happy to advise, but I'm not sure I follow what you want to do. It sounds like the web hosting company want's to manually optimize each product page for unique keywords, but I don't follow exactly what your idea was. Could you clarify?

    Thanks.
    Thanks for your interest!

    Without telling you who I work for and what is the website, generally speaking here's how the situation is now:

    We've got many products, some single, some in groups, dedicated to a specific "machine", and each one has its own page, changing in the tech details, images but keeping the same basic structure.
    Our customers usually look in SEs for the "machine" model and then some specific words relative to our kind of products.
    These words remain the same for all models of "machine".

    At the moment we have to manually add (or massively copy paste, to be honest) some text in each product; that text will contain some of the keywords the customers look for, but not all of them because they are hard to include in a coherent phrase or paragraph.
    More so in a foreign languages where you need to speak it fluently to create a good descriptive text.
    So we're missing out many customers who uses some slightly different keywords and also all the customers who speaks a language not present in the website, for example spanish, russian, chinese...
    There's no immediate project of translating the whole site in many languages, maybe we'll add a few in the next two years.

    My idea is to automatically add a series of keywords to each page, that will appear readable but not too flashy, on top of it. Like slightly smaller, lighter coloured than the main text.
    The same for every model, so SEs will couple them with the name of the model getting good ranking (hopefully) without the hassle to manually add a full text, that need to be analyzed in depth to avoid contradiction with the technical specifications of the product, and/or translated.

    So basically we'll just need to set up a series of keywords list, one for each language or country, so in every page there will be something like:

    "model, spanish keyword 1, spanish keyword 2 etc..."
    But the text of the rest of the page will be in english, italian or german based on what the customer chooses at the beginning of the navigation (it keeps track of that on the next access).

    My fear is that we risk to lose ranking because of the different languages in the same page.
    Also, while our "country stores" are geo-targeted so SEs don't seem to mind content duplication between them, I'm afraid using the same keyword everywhere may be dangerous.

    At the moment we're completely invisible in searches with languages different to the 3 available, and also low or invisible in en, de or it when the customer uses keyword not present.

    Also, do you think is good or bad having something like "model, spanish keyword 1, spanish keyword 2....selected lang. keyword 1, selected lang. keyword 2" in the same page?

    Regards.
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    Honestly, your plan sounds pretty questionable to me. I understand your desire to show up for keywords in the various languages without doing much work, but what you are describing is basically auto-generated keyword stuffing. I suppose it might work to some extent, but then again, it might also get you penalized. Just understand that there is a risk here, like there are for most short cuts in SEO.

    If you were my client, I would not recommend doing what you've described. First, there's the risk of getting penalized for keyword stuffing. Second, if someone searches for a keyword in Spanish, they expect to pages with Spanish content in the search results, not English. So, it's likely that even if you did have some success in ranking well, you'd mostly get a bunch bouncing traffic that stays on your site long enough to see it's in English and then leaves. If the bounce rate is too high, that could negatively affect your rankings.

    If you want to rank well for the keywords in each language, then create pages with content in those languages, perhaps even an entirely new site in that language so everything (including the nav menus) are in that language. If you do that, you shouldn't really do it in an automated way as Matt Cutts warns here: Does translated content cause a duplicate content issue? - YouTube.

    I'm guessing translating the site would be a big project, so my suggestion would be to either outsource it on oDesk (you could probably even find a person who speaks the languages natively) and/or just do a few pages a week until you have more time to work on it. That way you are making some progress.
    Last edited by lesterj; Sep 26th, 2013 at 12:28 PM.
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    Thanks lester. I understand what you say about the foreing keywords...I guess we'll have to translate the whole website or at least the main part.

    What about the keywords in the correct languages? I mean is it ok to use a list of general keywords in the same language or is the same issue of "keywords stuffing"?
    I mean, isn't it the same of copy pasting a bunch of text with slight variations?
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    Keyword stuffing can be done in a variety of ways and just having a list of keywords that serves now real purpose other than to try to rank for a keyword is one of them. There's a big difference between having a list of keywords on a page and writing good content in which you include the keywords in a natural way. However, if you just write poor content and has keywords shoved into it in an unnatural way that makes the text awkward read, then that could still be considered keyword stuffing. It also will definitely be considered a poor user experience by the human visitors to your website. Make the text for the human visitors first and foremost.
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    Ok, thanks for the good advice.
    I just reviewed the basic text used for the products, including all the keywords in a coherent and correct (for the human reader) way.
    English and Italian are ok, german will be soon.

    Sadly it's a very time consuming procedure to add this text, modified case by case, on all the products, but we got to do it.
    For French and other languages I'll ask our local dealer to translate that text, using as many of the keywords they think may be useful as possible.

    Cheers!
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    Sounds good. I know it's time consuming and a big project. At this point, though, much (if not all) of SEO that works and lasts takes real time and effort.

    Good luck.

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