An absolute basic in Internet Marketing is having a website, a blog or at least a public page on the Web used as a shop window of your services and a place you can refer all of your visitors to (a ProZ.com profile, for example). Of course this is not an absolute must, but it’s somewhat trickier if you don’t have one.
A good website starts with a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate interface. Potential clients ending up on your website should quickly and easily be able to find all the basic information they need about you as a translator, your language pairs, services, areas of specialization, etc. The goal is for them to find all this information in less than 30 seconds and to want to know more, so that they stay on your website and visit its other pages to find out more. You must help them do so with a clean and logical structure to navigate this other information. The site shouldn’t be too loaded down – even though connections are much faster nowadays, the global average remains slower, so do not include too many heavy images and plug-ins – your site should load quickly. Also, mind your writing – go easy on the colors and avoid WRITING IN CAPITAL LETTERS…
A frequently heard question is whether you should localize your website. Easy answer: yes, I personally think you should, in all your working languages because 1) it’s just perfect for your SEO, 2) it is also an elegant way of showing off your language skills and 3) it might help you get clients from your source language countries.
Keep it up-to-date – regularly doing so helps your Google ranking and makes a much better impression than a website that has obviously been “left to rot” for the past four years. This particularly applies to links – make sure they all work, maintain them, and update them.
Further reads and links on website optimization:
– Top 10 Tips to a Great Web Page
– 10 tips – how to build a good website – Cordis
– 10 Most Important Web Design Tips
– 30 Tips for a Good Website
– Beginner Tip: 5 Steps To A Great Home Page
– What Is on Your Business Website That Shouldn’t Be?
Last but not least, ideally seek the help and guidance of a professional to (re)create your website. I can highly recommend the services of Websites for Translators.
- PROFESSIONAL ONLINE PROFILES
The good news is that there are plenty of business networking platforms on the Web where your profiles can stand out, show a complete overview of your services and therefore play the role of a website.
I know a lot of freelance translators who use their ProZ.com profile as their website. And why not? It’s public, so no need to log in to see the profile (like on Viadeo or Xing), it has a very high Google ranking and it is actually meant and designed for translators and for our industry. A well-done and full ProZ.com profile can be a great complete shop-window online, so go for it.
LinkedIn is THE global business network. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is. Sure, it may not be designed specifically for our industry but it offers tools and possibilities that we can use just as well as any other industry – tools and possibilities that really are very powerful. LinkedIn not only has an excellent Google ranking, it also gives us the chance to reach out to other professionals, within the translation world (not everybody is on ProZ.com or TranslatorsCafé) but also outside of it. Through LinkedIn you really can meet potential clients (including end-clients), and network with people who may need your services and who may partner with you. LinkedIn Groups are an extremely practical and powerful networking tool, as are Questions/Answers and similar features. Your LinkedIn profile has great shop-window potential if it is complete and optimized.
Check out this upcoming webinar (Oct 24th): “Build yourself an optimized LinkedIn profile” (hurry, seats are selling fast)
People ask a lot about Xing during workshops and webinars. To be honest, Xing is useless unless you’re doing business with German clients since they still widely use this network. However, recent LinkedIn stats showed that it was slowly gaining a lot of German users, so my guess is that Xing will slowly decay. It still remains a solid platform however, and having an additional profile there as “just another static page”; presenting your services never hurts and is good for your SEO. Simply make sure the profile is accurate, up-to-date and SEO-friendly but I would not invest time and money in it anymore.
Viadeo is even more useless, unless you do business with France. For some reason I can’t quite understand, French people registered there en masse; like Xing contains mostly German users, Viadeo contains mostly French people. The problem is that nobody else visits this platfrom (I know, I’m simplifying) and Viadeo profiles cannot be seen unless you’re a registered user (which is extremely annoying when you’re Googling someone and the only online business profile available is their Viadeo profile). As is also the case with Xing, it does not hurt to have that additional result showing up in a Google search (Viadeo has a good Google ranking) so why not take one hour to create another static page briefly summarizing your services and offerings? However, do not spend too much time on it either. Remember that even static profiles have to be updated as needed.
Facebook is a tricky case. You don’t have to use it as a marketing tool – it is meant to connect with your personal contacts (family and friends). However,Facebook marketing has proved how useful and powerful it could be, particularly for B2C businesses. This is not our case in the translation industry but still, there are agencies using their profiles or pages to post jobs or call for translators, colleagues sharing job posts, etc. You need to make a decision: do you want to use Facebook for marketing or keep it for private use only? If you decide to use Facebook for personal purposes only, make sure your profile and all its content are private and not available for the whole Web to see. However, if you’re considering Facebook marketing, the first question you should ask yourself is: page or profile? My take is that Profiles are the ideal solution for freelance translators. It allows you to “Friend” agency profiles, it suits you better than a page and – very important – it does not require the same amount of time to maintain as a page. A page needs to be alive, to be regularly updated, to post content in a consistent manner. It is a lot of work.
So, Facebook marketing with a profile: either you use your existing personal profile and use Friends Lists to make sure business contacts you are friends with only see what you want them to see, or you simply create a second profile for professional purposes only and therefore maintain a clean separation between your personal and business lives (this one can be public and indexed by Google).
Your Twitter profile is a particular case in this context: you don’t want it to be the page you refer all your visitors to. There’s simply too little space and flexibility there to make it a true shop-window of you, your skills, services, expertise, etc.
A Google+ profile/page could be an interesting shop-window strategy because of the Google ranking; however, I do not recommend making it the page you refer visitors to – there is not enough there to make it a true and good shop-window. As an additional place from which to refer people to your main page/profile/blog/website however, it is a great tool.
Many of you often ask: “Is a blog a must?” No, it isn’t. The truth is, it’s better not to have a blog than to have one you don’t have time to maintain – not having a blog does not impact your online presence negatively, but having a dead one that’s been abandoned for 11 months after only three posts does. That being said, a blog remains a very intelligent strategic move in an Internet marketing strategy. You don’t need to post everyday – you just need to be consistent. This means that if you decide to write a new article every month, that’s great, but if you say it, stick to it – people who follow your blog should know they can expect news from you once a month (at the beginning or end of the month).
Once you’ve made the decision to start a blog and have defined a posting schedule, the big issue now is content. On an almost daily basis, translators ask me “what should I write about?”. I can’t answer this question for you, but I can give you some general tips on directions to take.
You first need to define/decide what your goal is with a blog – here are just a few examples:
- sharing and expressing your views and opinions on industry politics/developments?
- offering reviews of new tools (those related to the industry as well as those not directly related) – CAT tools, MT solutions, TM tools, etc.?
- showing your expertise in a given field/topic as part of your marketing strategy (e.g. you are a legal translator so your blog will primarily deal with legal matters)
The good news is that you can elect to apply more than just one of the above; you do not need to limit yourself to just one direction.
Your blog may be used as a website if the platform used is flexible and scalable enough to allow for clean and clear structure and different pages (like WordPress). By all means, a blog is definitely one of the greatest and most powerful Internet marketing tools.