Wednesday, 27 November 2013

What has the latest Google algorithm update done to translation agencies in the UK?


So, as many of you translators and translation agencies that follow this blog already know, the latest Google algorithm update (labelled Penguin 2.1 -!topic/webmasters/gvkoojlTNco) has dramatically altered the search results for any search phrases related to the translation industry. Has Translator UK been affected by this? Most certainly. Have other translation agencies that rely on their internet presence for a substantial amount of their new business generation? Indeed.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Many would argue (and have argued) that this algorithm update is a great move forward for the web, and after spending the past month investigating the changes pertaining to the translation industry, my conclusion is not which I would have expected. Yes. Even though our own website's positioning has suffered tremendously, I can still look at this situation from the outside and realise that the overwhelming majority of the changes that have taken place are indeed for the better of the end-user (the individual client that is in search of a translation agency to have some documents translated). Let's first talk about those positive changes:

Positive changes the algorithm had on translation agencies in the UK

  1. Agencies that had no client communication / social connections have been demoted
  2. Agencies that have created countless fake blogger accounts and duplicated content have been demoted
  3. Agencies that have used link farms and paid-for-link services to boost Page Rank and obtain more link juice have been penalised
Overall, these changes have weeded out the worst-of-the-worst search results that were out there. Let's now take a look at what Google still needs to do:

What still needs to be done by Google (Google To-Dos)

  1. Quickly revisit websites (and inbound-linking 3rd party websites) that were only breaking one or two of the rules and see if they have now come into compliance
  2. Better evaluate the search phrases people use and display more relevant results
  3. Minimize the impact of news sources external links to corporate websites

Further on Google To-Do 1

Up until recently, Google was not really able to determine if their guidelines were being adhered to or not, with this latest change, they now can see those that are 'breaking the rules' and are penalising them. As the past decade has seen even the smallest companies consult with an SEO expert at one stage or another and heed their advice, these companies are being hit hard, and without the resources (technical or financial) to engage a web development company to re-build / re-brand their website so that it complies, Google has made a great effort to improve its Webmaster Tools so they can (to a certain extent) fix the problems themselves.

However, the trouble with this, is once the problems have been addressed, it appears (at least from my own research) that even one month later, Google has not properly re-assessed their site and its compliance, therefore re-allocating their positioning. An example of this is that I have seen "inbound links" that still appear within Webmaster tools when the link from the 3rd party site had been removed over 4 weeks prior (this is in addition to a disavow file being uploaded and the 3rd party page that previously contained the link being updated in Google"s cache, clearly no longer linking to the domain name in question).

Further on Google To-Do 2

Prior to this latest update, if a search was performed for a generic "Translator" query, a relevant list of both independent translators and translation agencies alike appeared. This is indeed logical, and the way that it should be. If you speak English, and are searching for a "Translator" of some kind, you are indeed looking for a person, or a company that employs this person. At the time of writing this article, excluding paid results obviously, the top 10 search results for the term: French Translator UK displays like this:
  1. Google Translate (very cheeky by Google to display this first)
  2. Online Dictionary
  3. Online Dictionary
  4. Online Dictionary
  5. Employment Agency with jobs for translators
  6. Online Dictionary
  7. Employment Agency with jobs for translators
  8. An actual translation agency offering French Translation Services
  9. Employment Agency with jobs for translators
  10. An actual translation agency offering French Translation Services
Now, Google is constantly telling us that they want to give the most relevant results for their users. I believe that having only 2 relevant results for this search out of 10 on the first page (in positions 8 and 10 respectively) is not in the best interest of the user.

It seems clear to me that these online translation tools, dictionaries and employment websites all have a much greater internet "worth" (e.g. Alexa rank, Wikipedia references, Dmoz listings, Google Page Rank) than the vast majority of translation agencies in the UK, and understandably so, they are offering free services, not professional translation services. I also believe this stems from Google interpreting "Translator" as synonymous with "Translation", which of course is false.

Further on Google To-Do 3

This point is definitely up to debate, but it has been a longstanding SEO concept that having high-quality links from trustworthy, reputable websites such as established news agencies pointing to one"s site has a positive impact on their search positioning. This was logical, back when the small time business owner still had a chance using their "naughty" SEO tactics, however this can no longer be deemed as "fair" following the update. It is also often commented that "Content is King" and having good, creative content alone will invoke links from other sources organically. This (unfortunately for many of us) is what caused so many useless SEO-only driven blogs to be created, millions of guest-blog requests to be sent world-wide and carries on to this day. To explain why this change needs to be (in my opinion) actioned is simple. It comes down to what is the best results for the end user to see? If Translation Company X happens to be one of the biggest and best in the UK, they will indeed have the budget to engage marketing experts to dream up new and exciting content to write about, they will also easily afford the PR companies that have the personal network "connections" to journalists and editors in the leading publications and will of course exploit them on behalf of their well-paying client. Taking a quick peek at this link is proof in itself that the larger companies DO indeed have a great deal of "News" written about them. I say "News" as skimming through those results I find many "charitable partnerships, product launches, CEO interviews, etc.. etc.. etc.." so putting this all together, if the algorithm remains as it is, within a very short space of time, all of the top (or wealthiest) translation agencies will indeed exploit this (or it may happen organically, to the same result) and internet searchers will soon see only those top translation agencies on every translation related search they do, leaving the smaller boutique agencies that may be offering a better quality product at a cheaper price with better customer service to be left to their own devices.

As the managing director of Translator UK, I have written this article not to criticize, complain, or to any other purpose but to generate debate. I invite you to post your comments about what I have said, your own experiences, your own interpretations of the impact this update has had on our industry.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Russian Translation Services

If you have ever considered translating your website into Russian, or having your documents translated by a professional certified Russian translator, now is the time.. Translator UK has recently launched a suite of new Russian translation services. Much more information about these translations services and the Russian translators that provide them can be found at Russian Translators.