Lesson 47: Do we use right words on our websites to offer translation services? Part 1: Agencies’ websites
What makes clients chose one agency over another? What makes them go to an agency in the first place? We’re all wondering about that and we’re trying to find our own marketing advantages. Competing with giants is much easier on the internet. You get yourself a website, spice it up with custom-made design and write some texts. Yes, I’m going to talk about texts agencies and freelance translators use on their websites. I’m not interested in SEO, because it’s for the crawlers. I just want to have a look at words that people read. What if that is our secret weapon?
Believe me, I’m a linguist. I compiled a corpus of 10,000 words taken from home pages of 40 translation agencies. Texts excluded menus, footers and blog posts. The agencies are all fairly well-known, mostly UK-based, not page 1 on Google, but the agencies that I and my colleagues work for (i.e. mostly not bottom feeders). I then used Word Counter to check for word popularity and I used roots (variations together, i.e. translate, translator, translation, translating will be listed as one word). Then I used another tool to check what the most frequently used words on whole websites are, not only home pages. I’m not claiming it’s academic research, or that the findings deadly accurate, but they may be helpful. This post on agencies’ websites will be followed by the analysis of freelance translators’ websites, and the final post will cover the conclusions.
And the winner is…
Translation. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody, but “translation” was used 302 times out of 10,000 words. The second most popular word was “service” – 188 times. The third most popular word was “language” – a total of 157 occurrences. Pretty good as for home pages: translation, service, and language identify what the businesses are about.
Nouns about translation
Apart from translation, service, and language, other high-ranking nouns were: company (44), business (43), interpreter (40), work (40), translator (35), client (27), project (26), time (26), (market). When I switched the “variations together” option, I was surprised to see that top 5 words used on home pages were nouns: translation, services, language, interpreting, service. And they’re all quite long!
It’s very interesting. First verbs appear further down the list, and it’s already quite telling: translation may not be seen as a process or action, but as a product. We don’t like this approach too much, do we? Well, it turns out that “provide” (49) and “offer” (40) win. Other verbs used on home pages: need, help, train, include, call.
Now, that’s an interesting one. I asked my colleagues on my Facebook page about their guesses. We, translators and interpreters, assumed that agencies would use: fast, reliable, affordable, good, great, cheap, professional, accurate…
So, what do they say? “Professional” is an absolute winner – 67 appearances. “Quality” is next, with 37 hits. “International” has 28 occurrences. “Experienced” popped out 23 times, and “cultural” 23 times.
I also went hunting for non-content words to check if there’s something interesting happening there. “And” was used a whopping 388 times, followed by “the” – 317. “We” was used 197 times, “our” – 150. I don’t want to draw any conclusions too early, but it’s not a great marketing strategy to concentrate on “we” or “us” on home pages. “Your” was used 133 times and “you” – 124.
What’s the most frequent word on a whole website?
Then I moved to looking for the most frequent word on each website. Now I know that SEO attempts may influence the results, but we can still learn something useful. I analysed 10 websites and looked at first 5 words.
Agency number 9 is the biggest out of all that I checked, and you can see that 4 out of 5 top used words are content words relevant to our industry. Now, that’s quite telling! Number 10 is a well-known localization company. All of the agencies I looked at got their first content word right. Some of them, like number 2, 4, and 5, didn’t get it quite right – there are too many grammatical words on their websites.
Having said that, I used the same tool to analyse my website.
Well, time to work on your texts, Marta!
Here’s the link to the checker I used. What about running your own website through it and writing down the top 5 words in the comments below, together with your URL?