Archived posts from the 'Translations' Category

Geo targeting without IP delivery is like throwing a perfectly grilled steak at a vegan

So Gareth James asked me to blather about the role of IP delivery in geo targeting. I answered “That’s a complex topic with gazillions of ‘depends’ lacking the potential of getting handled with a panacea”, and thought he’d just bugger off before I’ve to write a book published on his pathetic UK SEO blog. Unfortunately, it didn’t work according to plan A. This @seo_doctor dude is as persistent as a blowfly attacking a huge horse dump. He dared to reply “lol thats why I asked you!”. OMFG! Usually I throw insults at folks starting a sentence with “lol”, and I don’t communicate with native speakers who niggardly shorten “that’s” to “thats” and don’t capitalize any letter except of “I” for egomaniac purposes.

However, I didn’t annoy the Interwebz with a pamphlet for (perceived) ages, and the topic doesn’t exactly lacks controversial discussion, so read on. By the way, Gareth James is a decent guy. I’m just not fair making fun out of his interesting question for the sake of a somewhat funny opening. (That’s why you’ve read this pamphlet on his SEO blog earlier.)

How to increase your bounce rate and get your site tanked on search engine result pages with IP delivery in geo targeting

A sure fire way to make me use my browser’s back button is any sort of redirect based on my current latitude and longitude. If you try it, you can measure my blood pressure in comparision to an altitude some light-years above mother earth’s ground. You’ve seriously fucked up my surfing experience, therefore you’re blacklisted back to the stone age, and even a few stones farther just to make sure your shitty Internet outlet can’t make it to my browser’s rendering engine any more. Also, I’ll report your crappy attempt to make me sick of you to all major search engines for deceptive cloaking. Don’t screw red crabs.

Related protip: Treat your visitors with due respect.

Geo targeted ads are annoying enough. When I’m in a Swiss airport’s transit area reading an article on any US news site about the congress’ latest fuck-up in foreign policy, most probably it’s not your best idea to plaster my cell phone’s limited screen real estate with ads recommending Zurich’s hottest brothel that offers a flat rate as low as 500 ‘fränkli’ (SFR) per night. It makes no sense to make me horny minutes before I enter a plane where I can’t smoke for fucking eight+ hours!

Then if you’re the popular search engine that in its almighty wisdom decides that I’ve to seek a reservation Web form of Boston’s best whorehouse for 10am local time (that’s ETA Logan + 2 hours) via in french language, you’re totally screwed. In other words, because it’s not Google, I go search for it at Bing. (The “goto” thingy is not exactly reliable, and a totally obsolete detour when I come by with a cookie.)

The same goes for a popular shopping site that redirects me to its Swiss outlet based on my location, although I want to order a book to be delivered to the United States. I’ll place my order elsewhere.

Got it? It’s perfectly fine with me to ask “Do you want to visit our Swiss site? Click here for its version in French, German, Italian or English language”. Just do not force me to view crap I can’t read and didn’t expect to see when I clicked a link!

Regardless whether you redirect me server sided using a questionable ip2location lookup, or client sided evaluating the location I carelessly opened up to your HTML5 based code, you’re doomed coz I’m pissed. (Regardless whether you do that under one URI, respectively the same URI with different hashbang crap, or a chain of actual redirects.) I’ve just increased your bounce rate in lightning speed, and trust me that’s not just yours truly alone who tells click tracking search engines that your site is scum.

How to fuck up your geo targeting with IP delivery, SEO-wise

Of course there’s no bullet proof way to obtain a visitor’s actual location based on the HTTP request’s IP address. Also, if the visitor is a search engine crawler, it requests your stuff from Mountain View, Redmond, or an undisclosed location in China, Russia, or some dubious banana republic. I bet that as a US based Internet marketer offering local services accross all states you can’t serve a meaningful ad targeting Berlin, Paris, Moscow or Canton. Not that Ms Googlebot appreciates cloaked content tailored for folks residing at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, by the way.

There’s nothing wrong with delivering a cialis™ or viagra® peddler’s sales pitch to search engine users from a throwaway domain that appeared on a [how to enhance my sexual performance] SERP for undisclosable reasons, but you really shouldn’t do that (or something similar) from your bread and butter site.

When you’ve content in different languages and/or you’re targeting different countries, regions, or whatever, you shall link that content together by language and geographical targets, providing prominent but not obfuscating links to other areas of your site (or local domains) for visitors who –indicated by browser language settings, search terms taken from the query string of the referring page, detected (well, guessed) location, or other available signals– might be interested in these versions. Create kinda regional sites within your site which are easy to navigate for the targeted customers. You can and should group those site areas by sitemaps as well as reasonable internal linkage, and use other techniques that distribute link love to each localized version.

Thou shalt not serve more than one version of localized content under one URI! If you can’t resist, you’ll piss off your visitors and you’ll ask for troubles with search engines. Most of your stuff will never see the daylight of a SERP by design.

This golden rule applies to IP delivery as well as to any other method that redirects users without explicit agreement. Don’t rely on cookies and such to determine the user’s preferred region or language, always provide visible alternatives when you serve localized content based on previously collected user decisions.

But …

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. For example it’s not exactly recommended to provide content featuring freedom of assembly and expression in fascist countries like Iran, Russia or China, and bare boobs as well as Web analytics or Facebook ‘like’ buttons can get you into deep shit in countries like Germany, where last century nazis make the Internat laws. So sometimes, IP delivery is the way to go.

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Playing with Google Translate (still beta)

I use translation tools quite often, so after reading Google’s Udi Manber - Search is a Hard Problem I just had to look at Google Translate again.

Under Text and Web it offers the somewhat rough translations available from the toolbar and links on SERPs. Usually, I use that feature only with languages I don’t speak to get an idea of the rough meaning, because the offered translation is, well, rough. Here’s an example. Translating “Don’t make a fool of yourself” to German gives “einen Dummkopf nicht von selbst bilden”. That means “not forming a dullard of its own volition” but Google’s reverse translation “a fool automatically do not educate” is even funnier.

Coming with at least rudimentary practices in foreign languages really helps reading Google’s automated translations. Quite often the translation is just not understandable without knowledge of the other language’s grammar and distinctiveness. For example my french is a bit rusty, so translating Le Monde to english leads to understandable text I can read way faster than the original. Italian to English is another story (my italian skills should be considered “just enough for tourists”), for example the frontpage of la Repubblica is, partly due to the summarizing language, hard to read in Google’s english translation. Translated articles on the other hand are rather understandable.

By the way, the quality of translated news, technical writings or academic papers is much better than rough translations of everyday language, so better don’t try to get any sense out of translated forum posts and stuff like that. Probably that’s caused by the lack of trusted translations of these sources which are necessary to train Google’s algos.

Google Translate fails miserably sometimes. Although arabic-english is labelled “BETA”, it cannot translate even a single word from the most important source of news in arabic, Al Jazeera - it just delivers a copy of the arabic home page. Ok, that’s a joke, all the arabic text is provided on images. Translations of Al Jazeera’s articles are terrific, way better than any automated translation from or to european languages I’ve seen, ever. Comparing Google’s translation of the Beijing Review to the english edition makes no sense due to sync issues, but the automated translation looks great, even the headlines make sense (semantically, not in their meanings - but what do I know, I’m not a stalinistic commie killing and jailing dissidents practicing human rights like the freedom of speech).

On the second tab Google translates search results, that’s a neat way to research resources in other languages. You can submit a question in english, Google translates it on the fly to the other language, queries the search index with the translated search term and delivers a bilingual search result page, english in the left column and the foreign language on the right side. I don’t like that the page titles are truncated, also the snippets are way too short to make sense in most cases. However, it is darn useful. Let’s test how Google translates her own pamphlets:

A search in english for [Google Webmaster guidelines] on german pages delivers understandable results. The second search result, “Der Ankauf von Links mit der Absicht, die Rangfolge einer Website zu verbessern, ist ein Verstoß gegen die Richtlinien für Webmaster von Google”, gets translated to “The purchase from left with the intention of improving the order of rank of a Website is an offence against the guidelines for Web master of Google”. Here it comes straight from the horse’s mouth: Google’s very own Webmasters must not sell links on the left sidebar of pages on I’m not a Webmaster at Google, so in my book that means I can remove the crappy nofollow from tons of links as long as I move them to the left sidebar. (Seriously, the german noun for “link” is “Verbindung” respectively “Verweis”, which both have tons of other meanings besides “hyperlink”, so everybody in Germany uses “Link” and the plural “Links”, but “links” means “left” and Google’s translator ignores capitalization as well as anglicisms. The german translation of “Google’s guidelines for Webmasters” as “Richtlinien für Webmaster von Google” is quite hapless by the way. It should read “Googles Richtlinien für Webmaster” because “Webmaster von Google” really means “Webmasters of Google” which is (in German) a synonym for “Google’s [own] Webmasters”.)

An extended search like [Google quality guidelines hidden links] for all sorts of terms from the guidelines like “hidden text”, “cloaking”, “doorway page” (BTW why is the page type described as “doorway page” in reality a “hallway page”, and why doesn’t explain Google the characteristics of deceitfully doorway pages, and why doesn’t Google explain that most (not machine generated) doorway pages are perfectly legit landing pages?), “sneaky redirects” and many more did not deliver a single page from on the first SERP. No wonder that german Internet marketers are the worst spammers on earth when Google doesn’t tell them what particular techniques they should avoid. Hint for Riona: to improve findability consider adding these tags untranslated to all versions of the help system in foreign languages. Hint for Matt: please admit that not each and every doorway page is violating Google’s guidelines. A well done and compelling doorway page just highlights a particular topic, hence from a Webmaster’s as well as from a search engine’s perspective that’s perfectly legit “relevance bait” (I can resist to call it spider fodder because it really ain’t that in particular).

Ok, back to the topic.

I really fell in love with the recently added third tab Dictionary. This tool beats the pants off Babylon and other word translators when it comes to lookups of single words, but it lacks the reverse functionality provided by these tools, that is the translations of phrases. And it’s Web based, so (for example) a middle mouse click on a word or phrase in any application except of my Web browser with Google’s toolbar enabled doesn’t show the translation. Actually, the quality of one-word lookups is terrific, and when you know how to search you get phrases too. Just play and get familar with it, then when you’ve at least a rudimentary understanding of the other language you’ll often get the desired results.

Well, not always. Submitting “schlagen” (”beat”) in German-English mode when I search for a phrase like “beats the pants off something” leads to “outmatch” (”übertreffen, (aus dem Felde) schlagen”) as best match. In reverse (English-German) “outmatch” is translated to “übertreffen, (aus dem Felde) schlagen” without alternative or supplemental results, but “beat” has tons of german results, unfortunately without “beats the pants off something”.

I admit that’s unfair, according to the specs the dictionary thingy is not able to translate phrases (yet). The one-word translations are awesome, I just couldn’t resist to max it out with my tries to translate phrases. Hopefully Google renames “Dictionary” to “Words” and adds a tab “Phrases” soon.

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