8 tips to translate a website into different languages

8 things to remember when translating your website into different languages

Are your products or services available to customers based anywhere in the world? Or maybe you’re just starting to break into multiple territories and are looking to see more conversions? Either way, to sell to a global audience, you need to translate your website into different languages.  


Why? Because accessibility is vital, cross-border e-commerce has the potential to dramatically increase conversion but if a prospective customer has a bad experience trying to navigate your site or find out important information then there is an 88% chance they won’t return 


Relying on Google Translate or automated translation tools and machine translation isn’t enough. There are things you need to consider when creating a multilingual website. Here are 8 that you need to keep in mind when making your site available in different languages.  


Choose the Right Web Platform for your Multilingual Website 

It may be obvious, but to offer your website in different languages, you need to use a web platform that can host your site internationally. You can use a website builder that allows you to create a website with no coding or a platform that requires a little more website development knowledge, like WordPress. Wix, Squarespace, Smoolis and Weebly support over 90 languages, automatically translating your pages for you. However, we don’t recommend relying on this. Although machine translation quality is improving, it isn’t right for creative texts, more on this later.  


Once you’ve decided on the platform you know will work globally, consider hiring an agency to help write accurately translated and localized copy.


wordpress - translate your website into different languagesLanguage Accessibility is Key 

It’s important that, when creating a website in different languages, you make the language switcher easy to find and the options and navigation menus are clear.  


Potential customers don’t want to, and generally won’t, scroll through pages of content in a foreign language in hope of finding what they are looking for. Localizing your website is an important investment and you want to clearly give them the option to choose their preferred language.  


Place the various language options in the header or footer of the page – the most practical places to look. And when you’re writing the various language options, make sure you are writing them in their native language. For example, use “Deutsch” instead of “German” and “日本語” instead of “Japanese.” 


Translating and Transcreating Website Content into Different Languages 

Automated translation tools are not currently right for websites translation. Google Translate and other machine translation or automated translation tools deliver translated copy that is not perfect and will usually need a human post-edit. There may be grammatical errors, it can’t interpret colloquial or figurative expressions and it is unable to understand context.  


Automatic translation tools are not capable of ISEO (International search engine optimization) and do not isolate your keywords to analyze them and find the most searched for words in your target market. Most importantly Google for example penalizes automated translation in search results. They train their tools with translated content online, so using machine translation is like feeding language patterns and vocabulary that are not accurate into their tools. 


It is a good rule of thumb to think that the more creative and the more SEO dependent your content is, the more important it is to use human translation. 


For your website and e-commerce translation that you want to appear in search results it is therefore important that you work with a professional who can not only translate your copy but can recreate it to convey the same message in a tone that will resonate with your new target audience. This process is called transcreation and it will help you boost conversions by authentically and effectively answering your customer’s pain points.  


Localizing your Website Content 

Localising your website allows you to adapt your content to meet the demands of your target customer – from local search habits, customs, and cultures of the country you are writing for. Localizing your content includes considering colloquialisms and language that will effectively communicate the problem your product or services solve to your target market.  


However, localization also includes images, colors and symbols, – ensuring you don’t refer to any that are culturally inappropriate – numbers, the formats of dates and units of measurements. Localise your content when you translate your website into different languages and your customers will value content that feels native and specific to their culture and country which will lead to increased sales and brand loyalty, too. 


Improve website position in foreign countries with international search engine optimization

Don’t forget about SEO and ISEO when Translating a Website into Different Languages 

Almost all search engine queries are written in the person’s native language. So, if you’re content is not optimized for the country and language you are trying to target, it is likely they will not see your site in their search results. You need to target keywords and write metadata and alt text in your target customers native language to rank.  


Don’t fall into the trap of only creating content for Google or Bing. These search engines aren’t used as widely in other parts of the world. For example, in China, having an optimized, multilingual website can help you rank well on Baidu.  


Keyword translation is a key step in translating any online contents. Extracting your keywords and phrases and having them transcreated or running the ideas through the right online tools to see what your local audience is searching for or how they search for an item or information is critical to the success of your page. A keyword translation service and keyword translators working locally are the best way to make sure those keywords are effective. 


Structure, Layout, and Design in Multilingual Websites

When translating your site into a different language, there are a few things to consider to ensure a seamless user experience.  


Firstly, when translating, you need to account for text expansion. Some written languages are more concise than others – and some are a lot wordier and can require up to 30% more space.  Furthermore, if you are creating a website for languages that read right to left, you will need to take steps within the design to flip the interface and ensure a positive site experience.  


Something to consider when writing copy for translation: it is often the case that a translator, no matter which language they translate into, needs more words to portray the same concept than the original author so it’s always a good idea to prepare text that you know you need to translate as concisely as possible. 

Adapt your Visual Content to your International Market 

Visual content is also a crucial consideration when it comes to creating your site in different languages. You need to localize.  


The pictures you use should depend on the country and culture you are writing for – you don’t want to advertise a clothing line with images that solely represent young, white women, to an Asian audience; a consumer will be reluctant to make a purchasing decision if they feel they aren’t well represented by that brand.  


The same goes for colors, objects, icons and location too – if you were writing a food blog for a Japanese audience, you’ll want to avoid only including images of English or German cuisine, American kitchens, or a hotdog icon.  


Something that works in your native language and culture, maybe extremely offensive or inappropriate in another.  


Brand Consistency is Important across your Foreign Language Websites

And finally, consistency is important. Despite changes to the design and visual content, you need to ensure your brand identity is globally recognizable when you translate your website into different languages. Your site performance and quality should be reliable no matter which language it appears in. Consistency across all platforms will spread brand loyalty and confidence worldwide.  


And that brings us to the end of this blog. By now, you should have a good understanding of how to make the most out of your multilingual website to guarantee conversions and results. But if you are looking for a little more advice, or would like some practical support, get in touch with Maka. With expertise in over 50 languages, Maka can translate your website into any language you do business in. From stylized marketing content and blog content to e-commerce product descriptions and technical translation – we’re here to help. 

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