Less than 30% of internet users are native English speakers, and 75% of internet buyers will choose a product in their own language rather than one in English. After recognizing that most internet users would rather shop and communicate in their native tongue, companies need an effective strategy to attract their attention and convert them into customers. That means localizing as well as translating website content.
It’s not just language that differs between countries. Cultural preferences, laws ,and expectations all need to be adjusted for local populations. As such, consideration needs to be given to not only the text used on their site, but also the imagery, layouts, and formats for time, weights, and addresses.
If a company wants to succeed in the global market, website translation and localization is not as simple as running content through Google Translate or other machine translator. With a little planning and employing the right professional translation agency, a well-organized localization strategy will open new markets, increase customer engagement, reduce the risk of embarrassment, and ultimately increase the bottom line.
Below are the top practices for turning a website into a global selling platform. Translators should take note of this as what their customers are looking for and how best they can market their interpretation services.
Professional Translations vs Machine Translation
Each language and dialect contains nuances that are easily lost or confused if inexperienced or machine translators are used. There are often multiple ways of saying the same thing in another language and the potential for mistakes is huge.
Engaging a qualified Language Service Provider (LSP) with ISO certification will enable you to employ a professional website translation team to handle your project. As an LSP, you should ensure high quality translations of all digital content into a variety of different languages. By translating a website professionally, clients will be assured their brand message and all other content is effectively conveyed to the proper audience.
Differing Target Markets
Along with differing languages come different cultural preferences. It is important to take the time to research the target audience to distinguish market features in the area that the company intends to sell their product or service. Having a firm grip of regional preferences will help adjust their current marketing strategy for the new audience and build a strong international presence.
In addition to translating and adapting content, including social media share buttons that are relevant to the local audience will help to disseminate the brand’s message further in the new market. An example of this is Asia’s popular platform WeChat, which had 889 million users in the last quarter of 2016. Although used for both social networking and payment, this app remains relatively unknown in the U.S. However, U.S. marketers can capitalize on this massive audience by including a WeChat share button and message in the local dialect in their digital campaigns.
Including location-relevant social features on a website is an effective way to access these markets. As a qualified website translator, you should have knowledge of regionally relevant platforms that you can suggest to your clients for inclusion in their localization strategy.
Changes to Page Layouts
Along with accuracy of language and local terminology, it is important to keep in mind other aspects that will need to change for overseas markets.
- Imagery – Images and graphics must be reviewed for cultural and regional sensitivity. Where necessary, proper research should be conducted to determine appropriate replacements. A common example of this is the use of white in western culture to depict calm, peace and purity. In Asian culture, white is associated with death, and as such should be avoided in images to prevent giving the viewer the wrong idea.
- Coding – Depending on the language, changes to coding may be required to enable special characters to be represented on screen accurately.
- Spacing – Translation of English to other languages can have a big impact on how much space text takes on screen. Differences exist in both the length of phrases and words, resulting in as much as 30% more space being needed for the translated text.
Even once a non-English site has been translated in a way to appeal to the target audience, consideration of local search engine results pages (SERPs) must be given. Your client’s ROI will fall short if their customers are unable to find them.
Research into search habits and commonly used terms for the brand’s products or services by the target audience should be undertaken to allow you to optimize content accordingly and ensure it appears in SERPs. Organic traffic from local markets will increase dramatically if you take the time to do so, and your client will be pleased.
Once the initial translation of current SEO media has taken place, fresh content will need to be created to remain relevant in local searches. Areas to focus on when creating localized SEO content include:
- Adapted domain names (e.g.: using .cn for Chinese audiences)
- Local keyword optimization
- Targeted landing pages
Don’t Forget Legal Issues
While the pre-existing English content adheres to local laws and regulations in the country your client currently trades in, it is likely that changes will need to be made when translating occurs. Features like privacy clauses, terms of service, and returns policies will all need to be amended and updated in the proper language.
Along with these changes you will need to ensure that the site complies with any other local restrictions. As an experienced LSP, you should help your client avoid these hazards and ensure that their content is worded in a way that complies with local rules and regulations.