When you think about website translation, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If it’s the words on the page, you’re not alone. And you’re not entirely wrong.
Translating your website text is an important part of the website translation process – but it’s definitely not the only part.
Read on for all six steps to get your website translation spot on.
#1 – Get the text right
Website translation isn’t only about the words
Words aren’t everything – but they’re still hugely important. Getting text right rests on one major principle: translate for message, not word-for-word.
Say your English-language website uses the phrase ‘it’s a piece of cake’. The literal Spanish translation would be ‘es un trocito de pastel’ – but you’d lose the connotation of the phrase. Instead you should use ‘es pan comido’. Literally, ‘it’s eaten bread’; figuratively, ‘it’s simple; no hassle’.
That’s just one example of potentially millions but it illustrates the importance of a human translator. Machine translation simply doesn’t cut it.
Ideally the translator you choose should be native in your target language. This means they can adapt the nuance of your messaging.
Marketing translation is most effective when it’s culturally resonant. When you speak to your audience how they speak they identify with you and want to do business with you. That’s near-impossible to get right without a native speaker.
#2 – Don’t neglect images
Business owners are often surprised to discover website translation involves more than simple text translation. But think about the importance of good images. Extensive studies have shown we process and retain information more quickly and thoroughly from an image than text, which means images are a vital component of your website.
But our perception of images is deeply tied to culture. When you choose images, you want to send a certain message, right? But the message an image sends might be totally different in another language.
You’ve got clear-cut instances where an image could cause cultural offence, for example. An image of a woman in skimpy clothes is likely inappropriate if you’re translating your site to serve the Middle East.
Or an image might be totally inoffensive but still not resonate with your audience. Take an image of friends eating out. In the UK, those people look and dress a certain way. They’re probably sitting inside. In Spain, they look and dress differently. They’re probably outside, eating different food; drinking different drinks.
Cultural markers subtly locate the image for your readers.
Sure, those are subtle cultural markers. But for your audience they’re the difference between subconsciously seeing themselves in the image and not. And that impacts how effective your website is. As with the words, we’re looking to create resonance.
#3 – Double-check the finer details
Design is a major factor in website credibility.
Stanford University did a study into website credibility, looking at 18 factors users assess when determining how credible a site is. Design was number one.
That includes obvious things like layout, colour scheme and images, but it also includes smaller details which are easy to forget when translating your website. Things like time and date display and currency symbols, which might be very different in your target language. For example, Spanish dates run day, month then year (1st July 2017) but American dates run month, day then year (July 1st 2017).
Small things like this all add to the overall impression of your website. If you get them wrong, it can be jarring or worse, imply you care less about your new audience than your English-speaking audience. That’s not the recipe for credible business.
#4 – Invest in a blog
A blog helps attract, convert and retain customers in your new market.
If you’re expanding into new markets, you’ll need a proactive marketing strategy. Your website is one part of that but it shouldn’t be the only part.
One of the best things to support your new website is a blog, written in your target language and for your target market.
A blog helps you reach, connect and convert your new audience. That’s important because a staggering 59% of international consumers never or very rarely buy on English-only sites, according to Common Sense Advisory research.
If you already have a blog in English, you can translate these directly into your target language. If not, that’s a perfect opportunity to start one from scratch. In either case, you’ll likely want to hire a professional content marketing translator/writer, so you can spend time elsewhere on your business.
#5 – Consider SEO
SEO is one of the biggest considerations for website translation. Website translation is about two main things: attracting the right traffic, then converting that traffic into sales. The latter is what we’re talking about with things like images and culturally nuanced text, but attracting traffic is all about SEO.
Help people find your website with SEO.
Think about the basic business model behind search engines. They want to return relevant and valuable results to users, so users have the best possible experience (and keep using that search engine).
The only way the algorithms can determine relevance is through aligning the search terms people search with to the terms on a page. If I search “Spanish website translation”, I’m going to get results that heavily feature phrases related to Spanish website translation.
That seems simple, but go a step further: what informs what people search for? The answer is deeply cultural. You and your Spanish, French, Dutch and German friends may ask for the same thing in totally different ways – not just in different languages.
What that means is, your SEO strategy is likely to be different for your translated website. And that has to start from a deep understanding of the people you’re targeting.
Unless you’re native bi-lingual, or have spent many years living in your new market, you’re better off working with a professional native website translator who brings that knowledge to the table.
That way, you can start website translation with a relevant SEO strategy that brings more traffic to your site, so you can convert more sales.
#6 – Hire a professional website translator
A professional website translator can help you succeed.
All our points above lead here: hire a professional website translator. Look, we get it. You want your website ready quickly and easily, and budgets are always stretched. You want to keep costs under control – another expense isn’t ideal.
But if you’re serious about website translation, you need to hire a website translator. It really is that simple.
Machine translators just aren’t good enough yet (and arguably will never be) – and your website is the gateway to export success. You can’t afford to bodge or miscommunicate your message on your website. Those sorts of errors really can have a big impact on sales.
What you need is a professional translator – preferably native in your target language, so they understand the nuance needed to ace website translation.
They’ll be able to handle everything we’ve discussed, from selecting appropriate images that convey your message to translating your words with cultural sensitivity to developing a culturally astute SEO strategy.
HelloTranslator is library of professional translators with extensive experience handling all types of language translation including website translation, marketing translation, business translation and academic translation. Our speciality is Spanish translation but our library also includes specialist Russian, French, German and Italian translators.
Check out our library of professional translators HERE for simple, fuss-free support moving into a new language market.