Why isn’t Google Translate SEO-friendly?


Only humans are capable of writing web content. Despite the impressive advances made by new technology, it’s not yet ready to replace us in this area. When it comes to translating a blog post, it’s not enough to use Google Translate, Reverso or DeepL if you want to rank high on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Keywords, logical connectors and all the specifics of the target language must be considered.

In this post, we’ll explain why using Google Translate can adversely affect your SEO.

Why is Google Translate bad for SEO?

All Google Translate does is decode texts and translate them word for word. And you can tell in the translation. Sometimes, the disjointed texts produced by the tool don’t make any sense. They can be inconsistent and lack nuance. Often, texts produced by Google Translate contain translation errors.

Even Google’s Search Advocate, John Mueller, doesn’t recommend using online translation tools like Google Translate to create multilingual SEO content!

He says the often inaccurate phrasing produced creates inconsistencies and affects the quality of the content. This is why texts translated using Google Translate end up ranking low in search engine results.

The truth is that one of Google’s key ranking factors is readability. But content translated by Google Translate is often incomprehensible, especially if the text is technical.

Essentially, you may be penalised by Google if you put your content through its own translation tool.

And readers will notice the poor results. Not many people enjoy texts that sound disjointed and robotic.

Does Google consider translations to be duplicate content?

People often wonder whether web content in one language is considered duplicate content if it’s on another site’s page in another language.

The answer is no. Google doesn’t consider this plagiarised content.


Because there is a but.

Although automatically translated content isn’t seen as plagiarised, it does break certain spam rules. Automatic translation is literal (also known as direct or word-for-word translation).

Without being revised by a human, this kind of translation sounds like nonsense. The text produced is low-quality and the semantics leave lots to be desired. It therefore goes into the “automatically generated content” category, which Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines don’t much like. There’s also a good chance these robots will apply a manual spam penalty

How to stop translated content being considered duplicate content or spam

There are two ways to prevent your content being deemed duplicate content or spam:

  1. Have it translated by a professional so the translation is carefully tailored by a human.
  2. Put it through Google Translate, then have the results edited and the SEO optimised by a bilingual web editor.

Both options will remove incorrect phrasing, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, which will make the translation easy to understand and very readable. The provider can also insert relevant keywords in the target language.

Do you need to think about SEO when translating content into multiple languages?

When it comes to international search engine results for your website, multilingual SEO is your best friend. And with good reason: not all countries have the same approach to organic SEO. You need to create a list of keywords by country to match the search terms used by the Belgians, the Swiss, the Spanish, etc.

This means you have to know each country’s lexicon and be aware of best practice for different search engines. In France, Germany and Spain (among others), Google is the main search engine. But in Russia, Yandex is the most popular, and in China, it’s Baidu.

As with conventional translation, you also need to have good knowledge of countries’ varied cultures and customs.  For example, an international current events business should adjust its translations to the cultural requirements of each different country. Similarly, a legal company must translate laws and decrees. In these cases, it’s better to use translators who specialise in the relevant sector.

In conclusion,

Google Translate just isn’t SEO-friendly. For a text to achieve a high search engine ranking, it can’t be translated word for word from one language to another. It needs to be revised by a human translator at least once during the publication process.

With the goal of e-commerce site managers being to make sure texts are read and shared by users and rank high on SERPs, it’s better to pay a professional to optimise your texts and adapt them to different markets.

Interested in this topic? Discover our 5 translation tips to grow your e-commerce platform.

New Call-to-action

You may also like
All articles, Tips & Advice, Tools