The prospect of translating your website should be an exciting one! The chance to open up your content, products or services to vast new markets could mean endless opportunities. But website translation can feel confusing and overwhelming – where do you start, and who can help? In this article, we’ll run through a few tips that will set you on your way and ensure that you net yourself the perfect website translation.
Free or professional website translation?
A website is an online shop window. It’s an opportunity for new customers to size you up, validate your professionalism, and make an informed decision about whether to buy from you or do business with you. How your website looks and feels will have a huge impact on its success.
Whilst free translation has its place, it is no match for a human linguist. If you are looking to engage customers in markets around the world, increase your international market share, or simply make your products and services available globally, professional website translation by human translators is always the best choice.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If you were looking to buy from an overseas website, and the English was really poor quality and/or machine translated, would you still have the same confidence buying from it as you would on a beautifully-worded, native-sounding site?
What to translate
The first step should always be deciding what you actually need to translate. This may sound obvious, but websites can often be long and sprawling, containing pages and links that you may have completely forgotten about. It may also be the case that certain parts of your website simply won’t be needed in other languages.
Are you looking to translate your website in full? Or maybe you just want key landing pages or product pages translating? Professional website translation is an investment, so you’ll want to make sure you’re translating the right content for the best possible ROI.
Website content can be stored in a number of different ways. Once you have decided which pages to translate, the next step is to make sure all the copy is available in a translatable format. It is possible that translators won’t be able to work directly in your CMS (content management system), so extracting copy into an external program (like MS Word, Excel, CSV, etc) may be necessary.
It’s also important at this point to consider your own needs: think about what will be easiest for you when downloading and uploading the content, and discuss this with your translation provider.
Once you’ve decided which markets to target, your translation partner will help to ensure that the right language, variant or dialect and translation approach is chosen. The ability to adapt to the culture and language is vital here. Whilst maintaining a strong brand image is key, what is more important is that your brand identity and tone or approach is appropriately represented in the translated language.
If you’re translating your website content, you’ll also want to think about SEO. A professional translation will ensure your translated content contains the appropriate keywords for the target markets, and will translate your titles and descriptions to ensure the best possible search engine ranking and propagation.
Will you be driving traffic to your translated website pages using Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords)? If so, you’ll want to put your ads in the language of your customers. Your translation company will help to translate your headlines, ad content and display URLs, whilst keeping to the maximum character lengths as specified by Google. Are your PPC landing pages translated too? If not, why not create specific landing pages in the language of your customer? For more on this topic, we’ve written in detail about PPC translation here.
Clearly there is a lot to think about when translating your website, but hopefully this short piece has been a helpful introduction.