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 »  Articles Overview  »  Business of Translation and Interpreting  »  Marketing Your Language Services  »  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – The key to marketing your new website

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – The key to marketing your new website

By Fan Gao | Published  09/17/2006 | Marketing Your Language Services | Recommendation:
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Translation is a business just like any other business and just like all businesses you need to market your services to stay in the competition. Gone are the days when you could just place an ad in the newspaper or in the Yellow Pages and then sit back and wait for the telephone to ring. In this age of technology, businesses have become global enterprises and with the Internet at your fingertips you can reach an audience of billions.

So how do you market yourself and the services you offer? Let’s say, for example, you have registered with the larger translation websites. You set up your profiles and include as much key information and details as you think relevant in the hope that potential clients will see it and contact you. Is that enough? Is that working for you? Maybe it is and that’s great, however, there is more that you could be doing to market yourself on a global scale.

It seems many people have websites these days and not just for conducting business. They can range from the simple one page sites containing pictures of your latest vacation or to multi-page sites that diarize your life, contain a blog and some, like my aunt’s even have a forum and a chartroom incorporated into it. The world really is your oyster and your website can be anything you want it to be and reach whoever you want it to reach.

My colleague and I found the task of setting up a website quite daunting as neither of us had any prior knowledge or experience and it all sounded so complicated. Looking back now in retrospect I really wish I had known then what I know now because at the launch of our website ( although it had everything displayed as we wanted it, it really wasn’t fully optimized for search engines and now we find we are in the position of playing catch-up.

With this said I want to share with you some of the things I have learned along the way which is helping our website to get higher ratings and rankings and will hopefully help you too.

Step One – Creating the basis of your website
There are many companies nowadays who offer good all-in packages for web hosting. Some are cheap, some are expensive and some even come free, inclusive of membership to the website. Depending on your circumstances and what you want from your website you can make the choice according to what suits your needs. You could take the option of having your own server and managing your own hosting but in my opinion; it’s a lot easier and less of a headache to go for the package deal with an established host.

Once you have decided on a host and registered it’s time to select a domain name. Most companies that offer hosting also offer the function to be able to search for available domain names. You will probably already have one in mind but be prepared to search and then end up feeling disappointed when you discover that someone else already has that domain name. Don’t worry! Having the perfect domain name doesn’t make or break a website; in fact the domain name doesn’t even have to relate to what your site is about. I’ll explain why further on, so for now just sit down and make a list of different names that you like. Try and think of short names, something that is easy to remember and something that is catchy. One final note on the domain name is to consider the extension. In other words .com, .org, .net, .biz etc. Although you may find your perfect domain name is already taken with the .com extension, it may very well be available with a different extension. It really is up to you if you decide to go with an extension that isn’t dot com but just bear in mind that a dot com address is the more likely option that people will type directly into their browser so although you have a great catchy domain name that they remember, if they type it in directly to find you again they could well end up visiting your competitor!

Now you have selected your domain name you can start to create your website. Personally I think it’s a good idea to sit down with a pen a piece of paper and jot down ideas of how you want your website to look before you actually start assigning web pages to content etc. it’s easy to change once you start but I think if you know what you want, where you want it at the beginning then it makes the whole process a lot more straight forward.

Think about the services you offer. Think about how to word these services so that they set you apart from other translators offering the same services. Think about headlines for each page and images that you would consider eye-catching to prospective clients. You want your website to make an impact and from the home page making an initial impact, you want the other pages to keep the reader interested so that they will get a picture of your whole operation and not give up half-way and move on to someone else’s. Whether you have just the one page or 10 pages is entirely up to you but it really is a better idea to spread your information out onto a page for each aspect of your services. Not only does this make it easier and user-friendly for human visitors of your website but it also makes it robot-friendly for all of the different search engine robots to scan and index all of the relevant information into the search engine listings.

Step Two – Building your website
Different hosts have different methods and ways of doing things so I’ll just tell you about the basic idea which you can incorporate into the functions you have available. Ideally you should now have the content you want to include on your website noted along with images, headlines and the names you want to call the individual pages (home page, contact us etc). Starting on the “home” page you can begin to put in all of the information you want others to see. Once you have finished with that page and are happy with it then you can move on to the next pages and so on until you are content that you have included everything you want to and you have the layout according to your needs. Once you have reached this point you may think it is the end and all you need to do is publish it to the Internet but stop! Aside from having a beautifully designed, well laid out website full of rich content, there is a very important next step which is the key to successful marketing.

The key to successfully marketing a website and having it indexed highly in the major search engines is to find the correct balance between it being user friendly for both humans and robots. I’ll explain this point in more detail in step three.

Step Three – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You may or may not have heard of this term but it seems to be becoming the buzz word these days as more and more people/businesses publish their own websites and compete for pole position in the major search engine ranks. We all dream of the day when our website will appear in the top spot on all of the major search engines and ideally appear there after a search by prospective clients. Ideally they should also be able to find your website by searching under any different combination of search terms that have relevance to the particular services you are offering. The key here is meta tags and these hold the information that search engine robots read when they crawl or spider your website. There are two main meta tags fields that you should populate:

1) The title meta tag
Depending on the functions you have available with your web hosting service you should have access to the page properties which is where you can put in the key words for the title of each individual page of your website. The title will appear in the search engines results displayed as the part which is underlined in blue and links to your website when people click on it.

Again depending on your host provider the title tag will be written in HTML format or the program will format it automatically for you and it should look something like this:

Type your title here.

The title shouldn’t be too long and should contain important key words that describe the page. You want to think about the kind of words that you would type into a search engine if you were trying to find someone offering the kind of services that you provide.

2) The description meta tag
The title tag appears in search engine results underlined in blue and the few lines of description below the link is the information that you can key into the “description” tag to briefly describe your services and the content on that particular page. You’ll have noticed yourself that search engines usually display two or three lines of description underneath the link to the website so you want to keep the description brief, relevant and full of the keywords that you think people will look for when looking for the services that you provide.

Here is an example of what the description tag should look like:

Your hosting service will probably also provide you with a field for adding meta tag keywords:

A few years ago the keyword meta tag played a big role in search engine listings but unfortunately it suffered a lot of abuse as people would include keywords that had absolutely nothing to do with the content of their websites just to get higher listings. The search engines caught on to this fact and subsequently the major search engines now don’t attach much important to this field.

Remember that you can add title and description meta tags for each page of your website. Ideally they should all be different but remain relevant to the content and it’s also a great way to expand on different combinations of keywords that people will use during a search for your services. The more pages you have to your website then the greater the net you can throw out to catch prospective clients.

Step Four – Publishing your website
Now you are ready to publish your website. You have the pages all laid out as you want with catchy headlines and attractive images for human visitors to view and you also have catchy meta titles and descriptions for the visiting robots to view who in turn will report their findings of your fantastic website back to the search engines to index your website for the entire planet to see.

There are many methods of search engine optimization and there are many things you can do to increase your exposure on the Internet. In this article I have listed two that can really help your website to be viewed by exactly the target audience you want it viewed by. In my next article I will cover some more ways to increase traffic to your website and to hook those all important direct clients..

Thank you for reading.

Chinese Concept – Chinese & English Translation Services

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