There is a ton of information about SEO and how to increase traffic to your website. When it comes to translated or multilingual websites however, you might be surprised on how many dark spots still exist.

In this post, I’m going after a question I spent hours trying to find a reliable answer to:

If I have an established site with good rankings, will translated content rank easier or will the “authority” not be transmitted?

I wasn’t successful in finding a conclusive answer to it, so I decided to test it myself.

Using the Polylang plugin, I created a German version of a 6-year old, well-established site. Note that I did not translate anything else than the home page, the menus and categories as well as one single post which was ranking in the Google top 10 for a handful of keywords in the first language (English).

SEMrush example graph
This Semrush graph shows the rankings of the English version of this “how-to” type post published back in April 2019.

I translated the post with the above rankings into German by myself, because machine translation such as Google Translate or DeepL Translator just don’t render natural sounding texts (and because my native language is German).

Once I posted it in February 2020, Google picked it up and indexed it almost immediately. First, rankings where not on par with the original but this changed quite rapidly.

SEMrush example graph 2
Rankings of the German version of the post and on (data from Semrush)

As you can see in the graph, some keywords reached the top 10 already the next month after publication. In the second month, they rankings doubled once more.

This results seem to confirm that new translations are seen as more authoritative by Google from the get-go even if there’s still only 1-2 translated posts in total.

You might notice that the original has many more keywords ranking than the translation. The important point however is that the German version received a head start from Google. If you ever started a blog or website from scratch, you probably know how many months it can usually take to get ranked anywhere near the top 10.

If you are currently making money from your site, or the business it represents, there’s a lot of additional income to be “accessed” simply by making a money site multilingual! Of course, it depends on the niche and whether income streams can also be diversified internationally.

To make a site multilingual, there is some “groundwork” to be done. A truly localized and user-friendly site must include translated menus, widgets, formats and sometimes even different pictures. This can be a fairly cumbersome process but also offer a high ROI if done correctly.