Simon Otter, Technical Manager,
Simon Otter is the group technology manager at thebigword, with overall responsibility for the
technology and the associated processes used in creating integrated, efficient translation services.
Much of Otter’s role involves working with customers to understand their technical and process
requirements and adapting technology to fit their needs. An early starter in IT, Otter began pro-
gramming at the age of eight and after graduating in software engineering, held several IT posi-
tions with the Ford Motor Company, creating localized public-facing software solutions, among
many other projects. He is a Chartered IT Professional, member of the British Computer Society,
and a Chartered Engineer.
Thebigword is one of the largest translation companies in the world. Its web site is translated into
nine different languages, and the company offers translation services to more than 3,000 clients in
Jerri: Tell me about your perspective on SEO localization.
We have been thinking about and developing how we should handle SEO for clients asking
us to localize their web sites. It’s quite a dark art, and everyone thinks different about SEO. For some,
s just keywords and meta tags, and those customers want them translated, but there’s much more to
it. There are many different inputs that go into the mix of how to choose one keyword or another.
Typically, SEOs try to expand their keyword lists to other related keywords and compound phrases
or terms and then build the needed content around these. And when you’re doing it in one language,
there’s an almost subliminal process that goes into finding synonyms and related keywords, because
it’s your language and you recognize the keywords and phrases that will work for less money. There
is a lot of careful selection and discarding of keywords.
When you’re working with a multi-lingual site, it isn’t that easy. When you go into another language,
you immediately have a language barrier. What we propose to do is find the people who are enabled
to translate but are also able to interpret the results once they’re translated to see what words are still
As it stands, if an English-based company were to translate their site into German, the keywords
could be translated, but the company wouldn’t know what the words were. They could see the
metrics for them, but they can’t read the words, so it’s difficult to tell if they’re the right keywords.
Once you translate something to another language, there is a usually a choice of words. Some of those
words will have the same meaning as the English keywords, but others will not. And you don’t want
to use the keywords that don’t translate into your message.
We propose to work within an SEO environment in a multi-lingual environment. We could trans-
late the keywords into another language and then an SEO coordinator could review that translation
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