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Translating Your Website
It’s hardly a surprise that 75% of internet buyers prefer to purchase products in their own language rather than in English when less than 30% of internet users are native English speakers. Once companies acknowledge internet users would rather shop in their own language, an effective strategy for translating their websites needs to be deployed to attract attention and convert customers. This means localizing all content for optimal ROI.
Much more than language differs between countries. Laws, cultural preferences and expectations also need to be taken into consideration when undertaking website translation work. It’s not just the text that requires adjusting – changes to imagery, layouts, and formats for time, weights, and addresses will also need to be undertaken.
To succeed in a global market, a little planning, forethought and help to translate your website will engage new markets, increase customer engagement, and reduce the risk of embarrassing mistakes that damage your bottom line. Below are five of the best practices for turning your website into a global selling platform.
Machine Translation vs. Professional Translation Services
Just as there are regional differences in English speaking countries, other languages have their own idiosyncrasies and nuances that are often missed or confused by machine translators. Differences in syntax, grammar, colloquialisms, and other linguistic nuances leave a huge potential for mistakes.
Using a qualified Language Service Provider (LSP) with ISO certification ensures your website translation project is handled professionally and mistakes are avoided, even when translating into a variety of languages.
Consideration of local search engine result pages (SERP) must be given after your site has been translated for your target audiences. Without doing so, your ROI will be vastly reduced as customers will have difficulty finding your business.
Search habits and your target audience’s commonly-used search terms should be researched to allow for the best possible results. Organic traffic from these markets will markedly increase if time is taken to do this.
After the initial translation and localization of SEO content has taken place, it is imperative that fresh content is published to ensure continued relevancy in local searches. Focus on the following areas when creating localized SEO content:
- Local keyword optimization
- Targeted landing pages
- Adapted domain names (e.g. using .ru for Russian audiences)
Social Differences Between International Audiences
In addition to differences in language, cultural preferences and expectations change across borders. Take the time to research your target audiences in each location that you require translated web content. A good grasp of cultural preferences and expectations will enable you to alter your marketing strategy and effectively build an international market presence.
Along with adapting and localizing content, it is smart to include social media share buttons that are compatible with your local audience so that they can assist in disseminating your brand message further afield.
An example of this is Russia’s most popular social media platform, Vk.com. It is best described as a combination of Facebook and a file sharing platform and boasts 46.6 million monthly users. Despite its popularity in Russia and surrounding countries such as Kazakstan and Ukraine, it is almost unheard of in the west. Even so, savvy marketers and globally trading organizations should capitalize on this enormous audience simply by including a Vk share button and localized message for digital campaigns in Russia.
Optimal Page Layouts
Local terminology and accurate translation is just the tip of the iceberg when aiming for a well-translated website. Other aspects should also be addressed to make the most of your efforts and access overseas markets.
- Spacing – Often overlooked is the fact that translation from English to other languages will affect the space needed on a page to say the same thing in a different language. Differences in both word and phrase lengths can result in as much as 30% more space being required for translated content. The overall layout of each page should be given thought to avoid translated websites appearing overly text-heavy.
- Imagery – No matter how beautiful the images are on your English website, consideration in terms of cultural context must be given to avoid conveying the wrong message or confusing customers of other nationalities. A common example of this is the use of white to depict calm, purity and peace in western cultures. In Russia, the color white is associated with counterrevolution and hostility.
- Coding – Differing characters of various languages mean changes to coding may be required for them to appear accurately on screen.
Your original English content will comply with the laws and regulations that govern business in your home country. However, it is likely that changes to elements such as privacy clauses, terms of service, and return policies (to name just a few) will be essential to adhere to the new audience’s local laws.
An experienced LSP should be able to help you spot the areas requiring change and help you to avoid the legal hazards that they pose. They’ll ensure the wording used in each translated page complies with local laws and trading regulations.
Sirena Rubinoff is the Content Manager at Morningside Translations. She earned her B.A. and Master’s Degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. After completing her graduate degree, Sirena won an international fellowship as a Rotary Cultural Ambassador to Jerusalem. Sirena covers topics related to software and website localization, global business solutions, and the translation industry as a whole.