How to Determine What SEO Keywords to Use for Your Translation Website

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Everyone who has a website likely knows that it's the most valuable piece of digital marketing one can have. However, not everyone takes advantage of the power behind this tool.

I'm not just talking about the fact that you should have an appealing website, though. Instead, I'm talking about how customers find your website.

It doesn't matter how amazing your freelance translation website is if your ideal clients aren't finding it, right?

That's where SEO keywords come in. Keywords are best defined as the terms that people use to search for something online that they want to know, learn about or purchase. 

Think about the last item you searched for something online. What words did you use? Did you type (or speak, if using a voice search tool) only nouns? Or did you search a phrase or type in a complete question?

Many people are now searching in even more specific terms than ever. Ask yourself whether the folks who would be looking for your services online use specific terms. The answer is probably, "Yes." 

What are they searching for? What answers do they seek to help them solve problems? It is essential to include key search terms in your website's keywords (you know, on the back end of the website and in your web copy) so that these people can more easily find you. This is a simple fix that will allow you to reap the benefits as long as people continue to use those search terms. And, of course, you can update search terms as needed. 

Here's a good example. Imagine that you are searching for a translator who is an expert in medical devices. If the person who would do the best job for you hasn't used key search terms on their site to further the chances of you finding them, you very well might not.

Now, consider this. How would clients (not colleagues) search for your services online? Would they type in something more than the language pair you work in? Most likely, yes. Most people these days know that the more specific the search, the more likely they are to find the answers — or, in this case, the services — they seek.

So, it's not enough to use keywords like "Spanish," "English," and "translator." Can you imagine the number of results you'd get back from such a search? Try it. You will probably end up with thousands of results, and you won't be any closer to finding what you're really hoping to find. You will also probably find a lot of automated translation tools. And we all know that's not what we're going for here!

So, how do you determine what keywords to use for your translation services website?

When you're thinking about search terms and how to include them on your website (both in the copy and behind the scenes), don’t simply choose the most popular keywords for your market. Use search terms that are more specific to your specialization and service offerings. As time goes on, search engines will identify your website as a key place to go for that particular subject. This will boost your search rankings and help your ideal clients find you. 

Use a combination of short- and long-tail keywords. 

HubSpot defines long-tail keywords as "a keyword phrase that contains at least three words (though some say two or more is considered long-tail). Long-tail keywords are used to target niche demographics rather than mass audiences. In other words, they're more specific and often less competitive than generic keyword terms."

Long-tail keywords are specific, which means that the person using them knows what they want and is ready to hire or buy. They contain a generic word and one or two modifiers. Long-tail keywords make up about 70% of all online searches. Make sure that the long-tail keywords you use are suitable for your business and are reliable. Test them yourself.

Here's an example of a low-scoring, long-tail keyword: 

"Spanish translator"

No surprise there, right?

And here's an example of one that would be more specific to a client looking to hire a very specialized Spanish translator: 

"How do I find a Spanish English patent translator?"

See the difference? Not only should you use keywords in your copy, but you can insert them behind the scenes in various places as well to optimize your site. 

Optimizing your website by utilizing SEO keywords strategically is not as hard as it might seem. The average translator can truly benefit just by thinking more deeply about how others find them online and enhancing their website to fit the way people search.

Speaking of how people search these days… don't forget that more and more people are utilizing voice search functions these days. In addition to typing in searches on their computer or mobile phone, they also ask real questions to automated assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri and others. So, consider adding long-tail keywords to your website that will allow you to show up in such searches more easily and frequently. 

How do you determine and utilize the right keywords for your translation services website?

If this topic interests you, I'd love for you to join us for the upcoming September SEO Strategy Challenge, where I'll go into much more detail about how to determine the right SEO keywords and the most strategic places to place them.

How to Answer the Question: Should I Translate My Website?

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I receive this question more times than I can count from fellow translators: "How do I know if I should translate my website?"

And the answer is… well, it depends on how your translation clients find you and how you find them. A translator may think it's an obvious step to create a website in both their source and target languages, but truly, this isn't the right move for everyone. 

Before you decide to hire a colleague to translate your website into your source/non-native language, ask yourself a couple of simple questions.

How do translation clients find me?

Take a look at your client list and ask yourself: How do my clients typically find me? 

Maybe they arrive on your virtual doorstep via client or colleague referrals. Or maybe they come across your profile in an online professional directory. Perhaps they tend to find you by conducting an online search. 

However your clients find you, it's important to understand what your biggest traffic stream is — whether referrals, directory listings, online searches or some other way — so that you can determine the best way to maximize the results you get in the future. This will also help you determine the language(s) for your website content.

If the majority of your clients are the result of referrals, take a look at the language your referring colleagues or clients speak. Those who refer you may not necessarily need to be able to read your website like a client would, but it would definitely help if they can skim your site and get a good idea. Many people will visit a website and poke around a bit before they send a link to someone. So, make it easy for those people who refer you to share something useful about you by describing yourself and your services in a language they can read, too.

If you find that you receive a lot of inquiries due to your profiles or listings in online directories, think about the language the directory itself appears in and make sure your site is in the same language. This sounds a bit simplistic at first, but there is good reason to do this. First and foremost, you ought to have a link to your website in your directory profile (your LinkedIn profile counts, too!). If the details listed in your profile are in English, then the link to your website that you include in your profile should lead to an English-language website, or at least an English-language page of your website where a potential client can learn more. If the directory and profile are in another language, make sure your site accommodates this language as well. Remember, it's important to make sure that the link your prospects click lead them to what they hope to find!

Also ask yourself...

How do I find translation clients?

This is another essential question in determining whether you should translate your website into your source/non-native language. 

Maybe you tend to find new clients at conferences. Or perhaps you prefer to reach out to agencies and apply to work with them. You might even have a marketing plan that is focused on reaching out to potential clients by using warm emails.

In what language do you most often speak to your prospective clients? If you are a French-to-English translator, you might write to prospective clients in France or another French-speaking country or territory. Or, if you prefer to work with agency clients, you might only communicate with project managers in English.

The language you use to find new clients and the one you use to communicate with them is the primary (and perhaps only, depending on your preferences and methods of finding new clients) language your website should appear in. 

You need to have a place where clients can find out more about you after they receive your résumé. If you reach out to a client in French, but your website is only in English, they might quickly lose interest because they won't be able to learn more about you and why they should work with you.

The short answer...

Clients often do their homework before they are willing to pay for professional services. Make it easy for them to work with you. If you have never once had a client reach out to you in your source language, then it might not make sense to translate your website into that language. But if you're looking to change your prospecting strategies and start approaching clients in your source language, then by all means… have a place for them to land that convinces them you're the right fit for their next project!

If you don't have the money to pay a colleague to translate your entire website, consider having a landing page on your site for customers who speak your source language. This page can be a brief summary of the content on the rest of your site. Be sure to include who you are and who you help, what services you provide and how they can reach you. This way, they understand the next step in continuing the conversation with you.

For more tips on maximizing your website, check out my 13 tips to nailing your T&I website and converting leads into clients, or sign up for the waitlist of my next session of the T&I Website Blueprint Course. 

How to Use Canva to Create an Appealing Translation Résumé

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A résumé is a basic tool in any freelance translator's toolkit. And keeping it updated is an important aspect of maintaining a stellar résumé.

I know my own résumé needed a refresh after not having touched it for a few years (yep, I admit that… you, too?) ;) It's okay, we'll take care of polishing our résumés together.

To avoid the typical résumé created in Microsoft Word, laden with far too much text and few appealing visuals, I thought I'd share a tutorial on how to create an attractive freelance translation résumé using Canva, a free online tool.

Watch the tutorial video below to see how I used Canva to create an appealing résumé for my freelance translation business.

And there you have it! This résumé took less than an hour to create, and it's already much more visually appealing than the previous one I created in Microsoft Word. The person who receives my résumé will have a face to put with my name, since I included my headshot at the top. They will also find it easy to skim my résumé to find the information they want. The layout and use of white space lend well to leading the reader's eye from one section to the next.

There are simply no excuses these days for not having an attractive résumé. Just like any translator, you should want to stand out and make a positive first impression on those you pitch your services to. Make good use of free tools like Canva to help you do this. And remember… keep it simple and fresh. Those who read it will thank you!

To read more about how to improve your freelance translation résumé, check out my previous blog post, How to Build a T&I Resume That Sells.

What tips do you have for other freelance translators and interpreters when it comes to creating an appealing résumé?

Five Ways to Promote Your Freelance Business During Slower Months

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The slower work months can feel a bit miserable in the life of a freelancer. The lulls can seem never-ending. Will the work ever come again? Will I be able to pay my bills in the coming months?

Hopefully you aren't too deeply entrenched in these concerns, but if you are, then this particular post might give you some ideas to get the ball rolling again. Even if you don't have these specific concerns, experiencing slower months in your business is bound to happen at some point.

I'd argue that the slower times are some of the best to take care of the biggest marketing projects that can make an impact in your business.

Today we're going to tackle five ways to promote your freelance business during slower months.

  1. Reach out to previous clients you enjoyed working with and let them know about your upcoming availability.

You don't have to let anyone know that you don't currently have work in the pipeline. Instead, be strategic about the way you let clients know that you're available for work they might have for you. One good way to do this is to write something like this:

"Dear [insert the name of your client],

I hope all is well since the last time we spoke. I wanted to let you know that I just finished working on a large project and I have some upcoming availability. I'm filling in my calendar for the rest of the month and thought I'd send you a note in case you have any projects you'd like me to make time for."

By tapping into your current client base first when the work isn't steadily trickling in, you pick the low-hanging fruit. Remember, it's easier to market to existing clients since you've already converted them into paying customers.

2. Update your website.

This might seem like a no-brainer to some. What better time to work on your website than when you don't have any client projects to handle? But so many freelance translators put off their website updates for so long that their sites start to become truly outdated.

The next time work is slow, do a website audit! Look at every page of your site and decide what should stay, what should change and mark your calendar for exactly when you're going to make these changes happen.

For a few website-related tips, check out How to Use Your Website to Build Trust with Your T&I Clients and 13 Must-Know Tips to Nailing Your T&I Website and Converting Leads into Clients.

3. Update your LinkedIn profile and create an outreach strategy for this platform.

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you probably know that I feel very strongly about the power of LinkedIn, especially for freelance professionals. LinkedIn—but more specifically, LinkedIn messaging—is one of the best ways to gain new clients and to continue marketing to existing ones over time. I would say that if you have a LinkedIn profile and you're not using the platform to market your services, you are leaving money on the table. Full stop.

For loads of ideas on how to use LinkedIn to market your translation services, make sure to read this blog post and check out my on-demand webinar on the topic.

4. Start sending out several LOIs (letters of introduction) each day to clients in your target market.

You may have heard the term LOI referred to by others as warm email, email marketing, or by another name. Essentially, an LOI is an email to a client in which you introduce yourself and let clients know that you are available to help them by providing translation services. Of course, you have to approach the right clients to make this work, right?

Rather than create a full summary here about how to find the right clients to approach with your LOIs, I would highly suggest reading this blog post by copywriter Jennifer Gregory and listening to her interview with Ed Gandia in this episode of High-Income Business Writing Podcast. And if you're feeling extra excited about this process, I would also very much recommend Jennifer's book on marketing to direct clients. Yes, she writes tips for copywriters, but everything she mentions in the blog post, podcast interview and in her book can be applied to freelance translators seeking new clients.

5. Reach out to those in your own networks and let them know you're looking to expand your portfolio.

When I say "network," I'm talking about everyone you know, people you've met at networking events or social gatherings, relatives, colleagues, other professionals, friends, etc. In a few lines, just mention that you are looking to expand your portfolio as a translator in a certain field or type of project, and ask them to refer others to you if they know anyone. There is no pressure for them to even respond, but if you do this regularly—say, a handful of people per week—, then you can expect for someone to eventually send a referral your way. It's also worth noting that even if these people don't have any suggestions for you right now, they might in the future!

It can be all too easy to fall into the habit of pushing marketing aside, even when work is slow. There are lots of other things that sound much better, right?

Yes, of course, take advantage of a slow month now and then to relax a bit, breathe and slow down, but be careful not to get too comfortable. If you can keep up these regular marketing practices (even during busier months), you will find that the slower months will become fewer and fewer!

What tips do you have for promoting your business during slower seasons of year? Do you keep up your marketing efforts all year long or do you work in spurts?

How to Talk About Your Translation Services So People Get It

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What do you tell people when they ask you what you do for a living?

Do you just tell them you're a translator and then leave them to sit and think about it for a moment before they follow up with another question? Do you cringe a little when they ask you how many languages you speak, expecting you to say something like "5" or "10?"

The way we talk about the work we do helps to shape the way people see us as professionals. Not only is it important to get this right for your own business, but I'd argue that it's just as important for the entire market — all the professional translators out there who make a living at this!

So, how do you tell people about your translation services?

Do you also cringe at the thought of an "elevator speech?" I never liked that term... maybe because I always felt like what we do cannot be summed up in just a few sentences.

But truly… we should be able to sum up what we do in a few sentences. I don't mean we need to repeat the "bridging the language gap" cliché we've probably all used or heard some variation of at one point or another.

I'm talking about real, tangible stuff. The good stuff. The stuff our clients praise us for and want to receive in exchange for paying for our services. I'm talking about results.

So, when it comes time to talk about your translation services to someone who asks, pretend their question was really one of these questions below. It will make it much easier to explain what you do in a way that others can grasp so they can comprehend the enormous value you provide.

  1. What results do you help your translation clients obtain with the work you deliver?

  2. What problems or challenges do you solve for your translation clients?

  3. What goals do you help your translation clients reach?

What do translators do?

One thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot of people who don't really understand what translators do. You may even be the first translator they've ever met. This is why it's important to get it right. They'll remember what you tell them and will remember it the next time they hear someone mention or ask about a translator.

Remember, the last thing you want to do is confuse the person who asks you what you do for a living. After all, they may know someone they could refer to you for business. Do your best to avoid using translation industry jargon like "target language" and "CAT tools," for example. Break down more complex concepts into everyday language. Remove any formality from the conversation, and talk to the person as you would a friend. This also makes it easier to follow up with a question: "Do you know anyone who needs a [fill in your language pair/specialization] translator?" It can't hurt to ask, right?

Practice the way you talk about your work with friends or acquaintances who are not all that familiar with translation. Ask them if what you've told them is clear. Also ask them if they have more questions about what you do based on the explanation you gave. If they do, that means you might want to tweak what you've said a bit until it becomes clear the first time you say it.

By practicing your professional value statement (now, that's much better than "elevator speech," right?!), you see what others find most interesting or surprising about what you do and continue to hone your message over time.

Now, you tell me! How do you tell others about your work as a professional translator?