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Does translation quality affect SEO?

Many of our clients ask us how translation quality affects SEO. We’ve known for some time that better quality content improves SEO, and now after a little experiment, we have the evidence to prove it.

The hypothesis: the better the quality of translation, the better the translated text will rank on Google.

Our aim

To establish how quality levels of translation affect organic search results.

A level playing field

In order to conduct a fair test, we created a completely new article, using a keyword that returned no search results at all on Google. This keyword was “lingo24bats”.

Having written the 350 word article in English, we then created three translations of the article into Spanish:
1) Using our Fully Managed Translation and Editing (FMTE) service
2) Using our premium Spanish Machine Translation engine
3) Using Google translate

Why Spanish?

We’re not being biased – it’s one of the most popular languages to translate articles into across the industry. We thought it only fair to pick a major language, rather than a niche one that could give us an advantage.

What next?

Having got the three translations, they were each uploaded to our Spanish site (along with the original English version) all underneath the root domain ( and each article had one link from the footer of the website. No other links or priorities were given to any of the articles.

After this, it was time for us to sit back and wait. After a few days, once Google had indexed the articles, we were able to check where each one ranked.

The results

On visiting, and searching for our key term “lingo24bats”, each of the four versions of the article were returned. As we expected (and hoped!), the FMTE version of the article ranked top, with our premium MT version of the same article in second place. After this, came the original English version of the article, while its translation into Spanish using Google’s own translation function (GT) was last.

What does this mean?

Google aims to return search results based on their quality and usefulness to users. Given that no link building or other SEO activity took place, all the search engine’s algorithms had to go on was perceived quality of the articles, based on their content. As the FMTE piece was professionally translated and edited, we can be sure that the language was of a high quality, and this was recognised by Google.

While we don’t intend to gloat, Google has shown its own translation quality up in perceiving it to be the least useful to a searcher in Spain. However, this is of course one simple experiment, and we should temper these findings in relation to the price a translation buyer may pay for the service provided. But if the old adage “you get what you pay for” could ever be applied, this is perhaps a shining example of it in relation to translation quality.

We’ll provide an update in a couple of weeks as to how link building and engagement with your content also affect its SEO.

*Picture credits: Nejron Photo /


Lingo24 is a global translation company, with interests in marketing, e-commerce, product management and many other areas that are of relevance to our clients. We share news on our company performance, innovative technology solutions, exciting new hires and guest posts from some of our translators.

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