SEO of an online shop – how to translate product descriptions?

by Mariola

Posted on September 25, 2018


If you plan your offer of products or services to reach foreign markets, the key idea is to translate your website into the language of particular countries. What if your website is actually an online shop? What should you pay attention to so that it is positioned better in foreign-language search results?

In today’s post, we will focus on product descriptions. They constitute the basic content of a shop, decide whether the customer makes the purchase while search engine robots display our offer based on particular keywords. In the best-case scenario, this will be in the top of search results.

But let’s start with discussing this matter from its basics.

What is SEO and why is it important?

Search engine optimization, or its abbreviation, SEO, means optimisation of websites in terms of search engine guidelines. Depending on whether this is Google, Yandex or Bing, each presents a number of guidelines for webmasters on how they should create content on websites and supplement such content with keywords so that a given website is later displayed in response to searching for particular words and phrases. The better the optimisation of content and website code, the higher the positions, which may lead to bigger traffic and conversion in the end.

SEO is a phrase associated with visibility in organic (free) results. Thanks to good optimisation, the position may be very high, which is an alternative for paid activities in the form of purchasing advertisement in search engines.

Product description and SEO

If you do not manufacture your own products but only sell ready items supplied by a manufacturer, you usually receive an entire description regarding their content, properties, features or benefits from purchasing given products. What is more, if the manufacturer operates globally, often such descriptions are prepared in several or a dozen languages. Aren’t you tempted to save time and work, and to just copy them to your online shop site? Is such an approach proper in terms of SEO? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Search engine robots appreciate unique content and they promote it in search results. If you copy it, creating duplicate content, it is automatically considered as worse-quality content because it does not contribute anything new for users. There may also be suspicions that the content was simply stolen from another site (luckily, a search engine has the possibility of reaching the initial version of the content thanks to history of indexing, and in most cases it should be displayed at the top).

What should you do then? You can use the description prepared by a manufacturer and edit it, replacing particular words with synonyms or modifying it by adding completely new content.

Adding keywords

Appropriate keywords should be included in the description of each product. If you operate on the Polish market, you will certainly know which phrases will be best for your products and will lead the customers from search results to conversion, i.e. the purchase. If you want to launch the shop’s website in a foreign language, translation of keywords will not do. You should complete an analysis for each market separately. Only after such an analysis will you be able to create content or supplement your descriptions with such keywords (the optimum number is 2-3 words in the content regarding a particular product).

It is worth diversifying key phrases – they may be general, e.g. “Ukrainian translator”, indicate the location, e.g. “translator of Ukrainian Wroclaw”, or contain more detailed information (these are called long tail phrases), such as “translator of Polish and Ukrainian with pronunciation”.  The more phrases of different types you use, the better the chance of the shop being visible in search results.

User-generated content

Individual preparation of content for each product is time-consuming so another method for making product descriptions more attractive, while ensuring uniqueness of content is to involve your customers. The product sheet may include consumer reviews (in this case it is worth to monitor consumer reactions regularly, by encouraging them to take part in surveys, etc.) or provide the possibility of leaving a comment. You may also consider a system of bonuses in exchange for recommending particular products.

It is worth to ensure proper length of product descriptions. Several sentences will not be enough for the content to position well. For this purpose, you may use entries on your shop’s blog (if you don’t have one already, it is high time you considered it!), and add links to them.

It is also worth remembering about linking to other products. This will increase the change of selling and also strengthen internal linking, due to which search engine robots will understand the structure of your shop better, and they will be able to index particular URL addresses faster.

URL addresses of the shop

You prepared a new version of your shop in a foreign language. You developed professional and unique product descriptions. This is not the end – you should pay attention to the structure of page addresses so that it is not copied from your local page with only adding the language suffix (e.g. en, fr, ru etc.).

Why? Because a link in a foreign language will not give any information to a user. The case is different when the structure of the address is simple and contains the domain name and product model, which is an international name. What if there is a domain name, category and product description such as “red suede purse”? Then the URL address should also be translated.

Many content management systems create URL addresses automatically based on product names. If they are in French or English for instance, the above problem should not occur. However, in the case of proprietary solutions, you should definitely take over the control because something that seems to be a small detail such as product address structure may be easily omitted during coding.

Creating a foreign-language version of an online shop is not just a one-time activity consisting of adding content to it. This process involves on-going optimisation works, whose frequency depends on how often you add new products or withdraw old ones. Nevertheless, it is worth paying specific attention to product descriptions because they will contribute to the position in search results on a long-term basis and affect sales.