Lesson 47: Do we use right words on our to offer translation services? Part 1: Agencies’ websites

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!

Verbs?

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.

Adjectives

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.

Grammatical words

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?

34 Comments

  1. Chiara Vecchi , on Nov 20, 2012 at 13:45 Reply

    Hi Marta, thanks for this thought-provoking post! I ran my blog through the checker and my top 5 words were: a, to, the, i, and. ‘Translation’ is only 9th in the rank… there’s someone else who’ll work on her texts! 😉

    • Marta , on Nov 25, 2012 at 14:17 Reply

      We can always improve! And changing your page from time to time is actually a good idea for your page rank.

  2. C Davidson , on Nov 20, 2012 at 14:06 Reply

    Very interesting, Marta. I had no idea such tools were available. My website’s top 5 words are:

    to
    and
    the
    translations
    i

    I might need to bump ‘translations’ up a little. I’m going to a CIM event all about this topic on Friday so hopefully that and your interesting articles will give me some good pointers. Thanks 🙂

    • Marta , on Nov 25, 2012 at 14:16 Reply

      Thanks for your comment!

      I didn’t know there were CIM events that I miss 😛 I’ll probably go to a SEO one in 2013 as well. I want to insource it.

  3. Woops…

    My main website gets:
    and
    the
    my
    to
    me

    We do not get down to two key words, translation and technology, until 13 and 14. However, I rank highly for these terms, so I think the incoming links and twitter may be compensating.

    My blog does little better:
    a
    the
    to
    and
    of

    • Marta , on Nov 25, 2012 at 14:15 Reply

      Well, you’re right saying that page ranks don’t include grammatical words. Your website is super-relevant, both for the human reader and for crawlers. Congrats!

  4. Another thought – common words are ignored by search engines, so it’s not a big deal if “and” or “the” are still outranking… You need to be excluding such words from your REAL top 5 words, i.e. your top 5 keywords.

    Mine suddenly become

    translation
    technology
    newell
    rose
    university

    and if you exclude my name,
    english
    finance

    • Marta , on Nov 25, 2012 at 14:12 Reply

      Haha, Rose, you’re a SEO master! Not bad at all.

  5. C. del Carmen Ruz , on Nov 20, 2012 at 15:51 Reply

    Very interesting and helpful article, Marta!
    I have to work on my texts since my top five words were the, in, a, and, Spanish. The word translation is number ten.

    • Marta , on Nov 25, 2012 at 14:12 Reply

      Thanks for your comment! Yes, maybe you could mention translation a few more times.

  6. Flor Aguilar (@SeulementFleur) , on Nov 20, 2012 at 16:11 Reply

    Hi, Marta!
    A very interesting post, as usual.
    Now, I wonder, why would you believe the use of “us” or “our” is not a good marketing strategy? I’m curious of what you have to say about that. 😉

    I, myself, find that use to be somehow better for reaching (new) clients. Meaning, it’s “our” benefit, “we” can both profit from this project, “we” end up being partners; the client by accepting my work, and I, by fulfilling his needs. What do you think]?

    • Marta , on Nov 25, 2012 at 14:11 Reply

      Hi Flor!
      I think “we” or “us” is not the best thing on your homepage. People are naturally interested in things that relate to them, and that is why all advertising material concentrates on “you” and “your”. Having said that, you can easily see that I’m not following my own advice 😛 But well, I already decided my web copy needs to be redone, so…

  7. Silvia DAmico , on Nov 20, 2012 at 18:41 Reply

    The first 5 words for my website are:
    i
    contact
    services
    and
    a

    Probably I should talk less about myself! However, the word “translation” came up 6th!

    • Marta , on Nov 25, 2012 at 14:09 Reply

      6th is still fine! I don’t particularly like the word “contact”. It seems a bit artificial to me. We don’t usually say “I’ll contact you next week”, do we? I’m trying to think of a better solution.

  8. Mirela Watson , on Nov 20, 2012 at 18:54 Reply

    Hi Marta,
    Very interesting post!
    My top 5 words are:
    and
    the
    I
    romanian
    in

    Back to the drawing board!

    • Marta , on Nov 25, 2012 at 14:07 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Mirela! You also should remember that for the SEO purposes, grammatical words don’t really count. They do count for humans, though!

  9. Olga Sharp , on Nov 21, 2012 at 12:40 Reply

    Thank you for this most interesting post, Marta. I don’t have a website (yet), so this certainly gives me lots food for thought.

    • Marta , on Nov 25, 2012 at 14:04 Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Olga! Yes, there’s a whole range of aspects we should take into account before we even start thinking of our website. Right keywords are essential!

  10. Laura Castro , on Nov 26, 2012 at 16:31 Reply

    Hello Marta,

    Very interesting post. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. It will be really helpful for my new website.

    Laura

  11. Desiree , on Nov 27, 2012 at 19:50 Reply

    Hi Marta, this is oretty interesting. My first five words are:
    staude
    in
    translation
    translations
    and
    Not so bad as I feared. But I will follow your further posts as it is still not a landing page, hardly get jobs from there. 😉 Désirée

  12. Isabella , on Nov 28, 2012 at 23:01 Reply

    Very interesting, Marta. I have just started following your blog and am finding all you comments and advice very useful. My top 5 words are:

    traduzioni (translations)
    parole (words)
    giuste (right)
    right
    welcome

    What do you think?

  13. Liam Curley , on Dec 6, 2012 at 08:06 Reply

    Hi Marta

    I’m a little late to this post, but just wanted to say how great I think it is. Most posts on website content are based on SEO, so it’s really interesting to read some opinions on the text from a purely ‘content’ point of view. My 5 are to, &, professional, tech, translator – not too bad but definitely needs work! 🙂

  14. lucyna , on Feb 15, 2013 at 12:14 Reply

    Hi, Marta

    here goes my first five words:

    polacco
    traduzioni
    messina
    sicilia
    interprete

    thanks for all the info you share, Marta! There are quite illuminating and complimets for your style! Hugs from Sicily 🙂

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Feb 24, 2013 at 22:53 Reply

      Hi Lucyna,

      Many thanks for your comment! I’m glad that you’ve found my blog useful 🙂

      Marta

  15. Elvie Amiscosa - Anecsys Translation , on Mar 19, 2013 at 08:43 Reply

    Hi Marta,

    Really interesting article, I stumbled across it while doing some research for Anecsys (a company I work for) as we’re currently trying to figure out the same thing.

    I found your site on the first page towards the top by typing in ‘translation services rankings’ so aside from all the research you’ve done, it still looks like the best way to get your site up is by simply writing relevant content.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on May 1, 2013 at 15:20 Reply

      In terms of being found, definitely. In terms of being chosen… 🙂 Thanks for your input!

  16. Arne Larsson , on Apr 26, 2013 at 10:01 Reply

    Hi Marta, and thanks for your information! My top five on our Finnish web-site (excluding grammatical words) are:
    yhteyttää (contact), käännös (translation), viestintä (communication), lokalisointi (localisation), tehokasta (efficient). All of these fall within the top fifteen words.

    Right now I’m reworking the site completely 🙂

  17. Business translation services , on Jun 6, 2016 at 05:38 Reply

    Hello there

    So nice article you have been sharing. These kind of services are the most common and popular , that helps to the people to find the right one.

    Thanks for sharing

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