Maximize Reach with Localization Secrets from an SEO Expert
Speaker 1: Welcome to Page One or Bust, your ultimate guide to getting on page one of search engines. In this episode, we dive deep into how AI and data play a role in your SEO localization strategy. You'll hear from Hila Shitrit Nissim, the CMO at BLEND Localization. She's a marketing veteran working in the booming startup scene out of Israel, with 20 years of experience and extensive knowledge of data implementation. Can't- miss insights into SEO localization strategies just ahead. But first, a word from our sponsor. Page One or Bust is brought to you by DemandJump. Get insights, drive outcomes with DemandJump. Get started creating content that ranks for free at demandjump. com today. And now here are your co- hosts, Drew Detzler and Ryan Brock.
Drew: All right, welcome back to Page One or Bust. This is your co- host, Drew Detzler, VP of marketing at DemandJump. And as always, I'm joined by my co- host, Ryan Brock, the chief solution officer at DemandJump.
Ryan: Yay. How are you today, Drew?
Drew: Great, great. I'm excited because we're talking to the chief marketing officer at BLEND. Welcome, Hila. Welcome to the show.
Hila: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Ryan: Hila, we're really excited to have you because you've got so much broad experience just in the little we've talked, and your background and your current role as a CMO at a translation and localization company. It seems like you've had a lot of experience with AI and with some challenges of creating content and making sure that content is accessible in the native languages it needs to be, in the cross borders, in the cross places. So this is something that we've really never talked about that much. Having someone with all of those elements in her background is really, really exciting, and we're just so glad that you're here.
Drew: Beautiful, beautiful. All right, well, before we get started, let's get to know you a little bit better, Hila. You've been in marketing for 20 years. When did SEO first come on your radar?
Hila: I think the first time I really managed SEO was when I had my first role as VP Marketing in a growth or startup company. That was a company called Promo. com. It was a video creation company, and we were very dependent on paid marketing and we really wanted to invest in organic growth and SEO and that's where I really started to get more familiar with SEO tactics and best practices. Then today with my role at BLEND Localization, SEO is a big part of what we do every day.
Ryan: BLEND has recently gone through a rebrand, is that right?
Hila: Right, yes.
Ryan: So I'm sure there's got to be a lot of baggage in terms of, you know, you have a certain amount of SEO visibility with an established brand and an established domain, then you change all that. What was that experience like and how did you plan around it?
Hila: We decided to rebrand or change the name mainly because we wanted it to reflect business better. So we had to make this not- easy change and let go of a very strong and popular brand. And we launched a new website, a new domain. So you can imagine 13 years of history of a very large website with thousands of web pages. We had to do lots of restructuring, redirect, building a new website while taking into account all the existing past assets. It was a big, big project. And BLEND, which is a very generic name... By the way, do not choose generic names for your startup.
Hila: I changed from Promo.com to BLEND, which is another generic name. It's very hard to rank on these terms, especially in the context of localization. And right now we are number two or three in the US when you search for these terms, so I would find it a success.
Drew: I would absolutely classify that as a success if you're ranking number three in the US for that term. Making that decision's tough, right? You have this organic traffic built up for your brand name and you have all that traffic there. Creating that new domain and almost starting over in a lot of ways is a tough decision to make. How did you guys come about that decision and that game plan?
Hila: I would say it's a strategic decision or a business decision where we wanted to shift the focus into the enterprise world. And we've managed two websites for some time in parallel. We kept the online business alive until at some point we just killed it and redirected everything. And right now we cannot find the old website at all. By the way, it was when we launched, it was inaudible pages, I would say. That's what we were ready with in March. By November, we managed to close it.
Drew: So wow. It almost sounds like a total restart, because you're not just shifting a brand name, but you're going from a more commoditized offering to something that's much higher end, much more hands- on and a more premium experience. So of course it makes sense that you're going to have to rebuild even the SEO elements of that brand, but that's a lot less time than I thought you were going to say. All right, Hila, I'm going to take a step back here. Why don't you talk to us a little bit about BLEND's localization services?
Hila: We combine strong AI technologies, neural machine translation engines and translation memories, and many other technologies, together with a very robust community of linguists and translators and voice actors from all over the world, and work together with our clients to help them to become local and BLEND in in order to stand out, that's how we say.
Ryan: That's very cool. Well, I think we can relate strongly to the story you're telling of technology and people, creatives, like individual brains working together to accomplish something greater than some of its parts. That's definitely a part of our lives. So can you talk a little bit about that, about the role that technology plays in supporting the creatives and the people, the linguists that you're working with to provide these services?
Hila: So the AI part is helping us to make work more scalable, efficient, fast, consistent, coherent, and even save money and resources. But we cannot do it without the human aspect, the human part. The human experts are here to review complete, translate in their own words, make sure it sounds fluent and native, and do the important part of the work. So our freelancers are working closely with our clients as if there were in- house employees. They get to know the brand, the style, the tone of voice, the products, the offering. So everything feels as if it was written by the in- house team, even though it's in Chinese or Japanese or any other language that you want to see.
Ryan: It's been there for me in the context of video games, to be honest, but the differences between translation and localization, which is what you're talking about, that's something that I didn't really know a lot about until fairly recently. It's not enough just to word for word, communicate the ideas, but to localize something culturally and all of that. That's really fascinating.
Hila: Right. And we do have gamers in every inaudible, to play the games, to give feedback, to make sure the terminology is right, to test it and say that it sounds good. And in gaming, we also do the voice and audio narration of some of the games. Yes, gaming is one of the biggest verticals in our industry for BLEND.
Ryan: Fascinating. I wonder if I've played any games that you all have been involved with there? That's interesting.
Hila: But also e- commerce, e- learning, travel, every type of service that you guys think about has to do with localization.
Ryan: Do you think, Hila, in your experience working this closely, both as a marketer and in working with the AI and the localization efforts that your company handles, do you think the same kind of technology is anywhere close to being able to create that net new content? To start from scratch rather than translate and do something even close to the level that a human could?
Hila: I think that it will take time for us to get there. I'm not sure we are that close. I think it's very hard to replace the humans in creating content from scratch, especially when you want the content to be helpful and valuable for other people that are looking for stuff online. It's not that we are writing for machines or for Google. Humans are still playing a big role in content creation.
Drew: Yeah, we totally agree. And we've all seen examples of bad translations, right? Bad translation, bad localization. What are some examples of some bad localization and translation? And also is that the AI side of things or where does the AI fall short and the human pick it up?
Hila: Sometimes, we have a food ordering up in Israel where the menu of the restaurant, which was originally in Hebrew, was translated to English and then back by the machine. So when they try to say pita bread, the word pita in Hebrew has another meaning, which is seduced. Yeah, I think you should be very, very careful with this mistake.
Ryan: Yeah, perfect example of how difficult it is to train any sort of computer program on context. That's the biggest thing that we always talk about is this word can mean one thing here and one thing here. And how do you determine that context in a black or white, binary sort of way that a computer can understand. I don't know much about AI, but that just seems like it's going to be the hardest thing in the world to accomplish.
Hila: Definitely. And that's why we also, when we go into a localization project, we start by building a glossary or a term base in order to make sure that all the main terms, terminology of the business, we decide together, how do we want to translate these words? Because in every language you have double meanings or different ways to translate a certain word. And as a marketeer or as a business owner, it's important for you how the content will be translated and in what way. So we try to help both the translator and the machine to get it right.
Ryan: Definitely. So when it comes to SEO, what kind of data do you look for to guide your strategy? Or maybe we should speak more broadly and say at BLEND, as a whole, as marketing team, what kind of data do you use to inform your SEO strategy?
Hila: We try to think about our various audiences, various persona or users that we target, potential customers, and think about their pain points, their needs, what would they look for, what do they need in order to be successful at what we do? We serve localization managers, we work with marketing managers, product managers, growth managers. Sometimes it's the CEOs. We look at the data of competitive landscape, other searches, keywords of our competition, obviously. I think the usual stuff.
Ryan: Is there a specific language you use in your digital marketing, or are you putting on materials in the languages of the countries you do the most business? How do you handle that?
Hila: So we localize our website to several number of languages. I think you can find, on some pages, nine languages and some even more. That's also because we are a localization company and we want to show our work. We try to serve the countries that work with us mostly, where there is an intent, there is a need, there is a search volume. Most of our content is created in English and then localized into other languages. Asia or China is a big market for BLEND. Some of our content is being created in Chinese. We make sure to localize our videos, subtitles, presentations to Chinese too. But we work in Spanish, French, and German.
Ryan: Do you do any additional keyword research or SEO research in general when you are in the localization process? Or does that mostly happen at first in English and then do the localization and then you hope that it comes out in the wash, that it's going to be similar enough to what people in that area would be searching for?
Hila: We definitely pay attention to SEO in our localization process and translation. The keywords are not being translated automatically. Our translators, we ask them to think about how would people in that country look for data service. We use SEO experts in that market to help us make sure that it's SEO- ready, and then we complete the translation and the localization. It's part of the guidance of the work. Definitely people look for things in very different ways, and when it comes to culture, and... In our case, it's maybe easy. In our client's case, it's very different. We have some apps or services that people in China look for a totally different keyword than they do in the US. So you have to take it into account.
Drew: Yeah, that's very fascinating, the keyword aspect of it and the native speaker translator aspect of it. And that actually was what my question was about, and I'm looking at one of your blogs as an example. I see there's a piece here on localization in the travel industry. Let's say you're going to localize that into another language. What does that process look like between your AI and the native speaker, the native translator? What's that process look like?
Hila: First of all, we'll make sure that we have the keyword translated or written in, let's say we make it into Spanish, so we make sure we have that right in Spanish. Then, since it's a simple text, we can get it through the machine. We choose the engine that is good or strong in English to Spanish vertical. The travel vertical is not so big, so we maybe not have a dedicated machine for that, but we definitely know which engine is better for English to Spanish. It will go through the machine that we choose or DeepL or Google or Amazon or whatever it is. And then once it's machine translated, a human writer will go through it and fix it and edit it, review and make sure that it's right, that it sounds good as if a human wrote it. They do a full editing of the article. We call it machine translation post- editing. Sometimes we do it from scratch by a human, by the way, it's not always going through a machine. It depends on other considerations, on the languages, type of content, but in this case, it can definitely work.
Ryan: That's incredible. The idea that you would think of your machines the same way that I would think of the different writers on my team with different strengths and experience. That's something I'd never in a million years thought about, but wow.
Drew: Yeah, that's extremely fascinating. And quite frankly, I'm excited to take a look at BLEND for my use case as we start to grow here.
Hila: And you can take the same process to voice and voiceover and video narration.
Ryan: That's amazing.
Hila: We can give it a try with one of your episodes.
Drew: Yeah, we should! That's amazing. It's an amazing solution. Okay, Hila, if you are okay, we will jump into a little lightning round of a couple of questions here that I'll ask you and we'll wrap it up from there. Sound good?
Drew: Hila, what was the last thing that you searched?
Hila: Oh, so actually it was Page One or Bust. I wanted to see your website and how it's positioned. I listened to several episodes.
Drew: I love it. That's fantastic. Thank you, Hila.
Ryan: Yeah, thank you. We're honored.
Drew: Okay. Hila, throughout your career as a marketer, are there any marketing myths that you've busted?
Hila: Oh, it's an interesting question. I think when it comes to SEO in general, I think one of the myths in the beginning of my career, one advice that I got was to create lots of content for SEO purposes. And I used to get tons of topics and use cheap writers to create these articles fast and put them live for SEO reasons. And I think I learned, and we all know that this is not working, not true. Content should be written for your audience, should be valuable, helpful. Obviously you should keep SEO in mind and everything, but not to create it for any machine. Another myth I think, is that in the past it was true that you have to post content on social media in certain times, in work days. And I think we all know that today it's not so true and you can post it whenever you want and people are there all the time.
Drew: That's exactly right. And the algorithms will always boost the good content. I wholeheartedly agree with both of those. Hila, are there any marketing tools that you can't live without?
Hila: Yeah, two tools that they use on a daily basis, I would say are HubSpot for marketing automation and Canva for content creation, which I really, really like.
Drew: Boom. We are very much in sync on that front.
Ryan: Yes, we are. Very much.
Drew: That sounded like Ryan could have given that answer. All right, Hila, as a marketing leader, what is your best prediction for SEO trends in 2023?
Hila: I think that the way we see it and Google's releasing these updates every few weeks or days, we do understand that we need to focus on helpful, valuable content. As I said before, that means we do try to focus on all relevant content types and content topics and languages and countries and audiences. And I think this trend will only continue.
Drew: We agree.
Ryan: Completely agree.
Drew: Well, Hila, thank you for being an awesome guest today. Before we let you go, what's next for BLEND? What should our listeners keep an eye out for?
Hila: What's next for BLEND? We always work on new solutions, new technologies, new integrations for our customers, new offerings, adding more and more services, and stay tuned! It's coming soon.
Drew: We will. We're looking forward to it. Again, Hila, thank you for joining us. We really appreciate it. It was a great conversation. Another great conversation. I really enjoyed it. Ryan, what did you take from our conversation with Hila today?
Ryan: The big thing that I didn't expect from this conversation was this notion that, again, you have this cutting edge company coming from Israel where there's a lot of startup activity around AI. They know what they're doing with AI over there, and still, it's not the complete picture. It's a tool that helps people contextualize data, automate what can be automated, and then make life easier so that you can get in and do the work that only a human can do. And I think that Google even explicitly said in their last helpful content update that if something appears to be written by AI, it's going to get punished. And I think rightfully so, because it means that nobody's actually taking the time to contextualize the information for the person that it's intended for. And the idea that it's a one- to- one comparison between localization, powered by AI and SEO powered by our algorithms. It's just really cool.
Drew: Yeah, I totally agree. That's exactly what I took away too. Even the leader of an AI- assisted solution still acknowledges that the human aspect of creating that content is vitally important and maybe the most important part to create that useful content. So, totally agree.
Ryan: Yeah, I mean, I'm just imagining a future in not just marketing, but any industry where we have really, really intelligent tools that are taking away all the parts of the job that just sucked, that nobody wants to do. If it was up to us, Drew, every time we wanted to do a new content builder strategy to mill through and generate a list of thousands and thousands of keywords and then start looking for correlations and contextual links and frequency and doing what we're doing automatically, we'd just never do it, right?
Ryan: But then there's some jobs where you got to do the hard stuff no matter what. And what's interesting about this is you could take something and maybe do the heavy lifting of getting that initial translation done, give it to someone who says, " Oh, woof, okay. There's some stuff here that's usable, but some of it's not." Seems to me like a much easier job than starting from scratch on something. And I'm just excited for a future where all of us have these little tools in our job that we take for granted that take out some of the grunt work and let us really focus on what we do best.
Drew: Well, another great conversation. And with that, that's it for this episode of Page One or Bust. We'll talk to you soon.
Ryan: Thanks, everybody.
Speaker 1: Page One or Bust is brought to you by DemandJump. Know the exact content to create to increase first page rankings and drive outcomes with DemandJump Get started for free today @ demandjump. com.
Do you have content translated into other languages, but struggle to make it work? In this episode, we’re sharing localization secrets from an SEO expert that will stop your hard work from being turned into gibberish. Tune in to hear Hila Shitrit-Nissim, CMO at BLEND Localization, talk about the key aspects of localization every SEO manager needs to know, and why localization is more than just translating copy.
Got a topic idea? Hot take? Guest pitch? We’d love to hear from you! Reach out to us at PageOne@DemandJump.com.