Today, there are over a dozen reasons to translate your corporate website: to boost sales, to reach new markets, to raise your credibility, etc. However, it’s important to create a multilingual site properly, without rushing into it, for risk of creating duplicate content, which is heavily penalized by Google.

 

What is duplicate content?

To put it plainly, duplicate content means publishing the same content on different places on the internet. It’s often used by spammers to cheat Google’s algorithms and to boost their site’s (blackhat) SEO. The problem is that duplicate content raises many issues for search engines:

  • They don’t know how to different and classify different version in their index
  • They don’t know which version of the pages to display in their results
  • They often can’t identify which web content is the original and which one to display

 

Since duplicate content decreases the overall quality of online content, Google punishes offenders by drastically reducing their search engine rankings, or blocking them altogether (especially in the latest Google Penguin update).

Developers and bloggers are now asking themselves the million dollar question (we’re not exaggerating – if you get blacklisted by Google and your web traffic plummets, it could cost you a million dollars in sales):

Does Google consider translations in one or more languages as duplicate content?

The short answer, according to Matt Cutts, is no, but there are cases where your translated content can be considered spam. The secret is knowing what Google allows and what it doesn’t.

 

English web content + French web content = 2 unique contents

As a general rule, Google considers English content and its French translation as two separate types of content. Search engines know that this is meant for two separate audiences and is therefore not considered spam.

 

Beware of automatic translations

Did you hire a professional to translate your website? Then you have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if you used Google Translate or a similar free translation tool, it’s considered automatically-generated content, which Google will punish.

 

Quality content always pays off

Even though machine translation has really evolved in recent years, it can never truly replace the work of a professional. Free translation tools don’t take into account cultural context, writing style and industry-specific terminology.

At the end of the day, Google isn’t the big bad wolf trying to bring down your business; they’re simply trying to make sure that good content wins out over spam. The easiest solution (free machine translation) isn’t always the best, especially if you don’t want to face off against Google Penguin.

Lesson learned: professional translation not only gives you high quality multilingual content, but also lets you avoid unpleasant SEO surprises.

 

Until next time!

The TextMaster Team

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