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Another type of tag is the Meta tag. These are located in the header and give information on the page, used mostly by search engines, like keywords, description of the page, author and copyrights… You will need to translate the contents of some of these tags. Bearing in mind that these tags are mostly intended for search engines, you have to translate the keywords and description using words that people will use to find the web site. It’s not a matter of just translating those.

You have to think a little bit about which terms are applicable to the page and will be the most popular. You are likely to find misspellings in the Meta tags. They are there on purpose, so that people who misspell their search terms in the search engine find the page anyway. If so, misspell too. Google listed the misspellings it found for “Britney Spears”. There are hundreds, and they have been searched for by thousands of people, so misspelling on popular searches could amount to a significant trafic.

If you find well thought of descriptions and several typos in the Meta tags, be extra careful, for this is evidence that your customer has attempted some search engine optimization, and perhaps paid a lot of money to do so. Don’t ruin it.

There is one other important item in the Meta tags: The charset. It tells the browser which character set is used in the page. If you translate from a language with a character encoding different of yours, you may have to change the encoding for the page to display properly. Here is what that Meta tag looks like:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">

If your language requires a different encoding, you should inform the client, as he may need to change more than just the page you're working on. Nowadays, pages should be in UTF-8 by default (which can handle most languages), so it should be a no issue.

The TITLE tag (in the header. Shows in the title bar of the web browser when you display the page) <title>. THIS is the single most important piece of text in your web page. Why? Because Search Engines value it above everything else, when they analyze the page. It is also the text used in the search engine results and will often cause someone to click and visit the page in the first place.

“Welcome to Whatever.inc” is probably the most stupid title you can come up with. A title should contain the keywords that will be used to find the page. If the page talks about Blue widgets, the title should have “Blue widget” in it! Now, of course, you are translating. That means you have to follow the original Web page, and if the original name is “Welcome to Whatever.inc”, then keep it, but if you can see the author has put some thought on the title to include keywords in a specific sequence, give it some thought yourself.

Links. In HTML, a link looks like this:

<a href=“http://www.website.com” title=“Good web site”> Web Site </a>

“a” stands for “Anchor”, and “href” tells the browser where that “anchor” is located (here, “http://www.website.com”). “Title” gives a title for the link, so that when you pass the mouse over the link, a small note will display, “Good web site”, in this example. You have to translate it. “Web Site” is the text of the link. You may or may not have to translate it. “</a>” is the closing tag.

Images. Although you see images in web pages, they are not really inside the HTML document. It’s a simple text file, right? In fact, you have a tag that tells the web browser where the picture is stored and how to display it (what size, with or without a border, where in the screen…). The image tag is <img src=“http://www.website.com/image.jpg” alt=“Picture of a blue widget”>. It has no closing tag. You should not change the image tag except for the content of the "alt" tag. “Alt” stands for “Alternate text”.

In the early days of Internet, many browsers could not display pictures, or it was too slow, so many users disabled the pictures to surf faster. To enable those users to understand what picture should be there, the alt text is displayed instead. Even if the image is displayed, the alt text shows when you move the mouse over the image. Nowadays, alt text remains important for accessibility purposes. Some people use screen readers which read aloud the content of a page, and the alt text is the only way for them to know what the images represent. You have to translate it.

The “alt" and the “title” are usually loaded with keywords for the search engines. If this is the case, make sure that the translation is the same way.

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