Website Translation: Which Languages Work Best for Your Site
Website Translation: Which Languages Work Best for Your Site
As you likely already know, breaking into a market is no easy task. While it requires work in a wide range of areas, including market research, design, and branding, website translation that best portrays your content is often one of the most important factors to consider to succeed in any region, so it has to fit somewhere in your budget.
This article will help you understand how and why you should think about translating your website, and how to use transcreation and localisation in the process. It will also cover some of the challenges that arise when deciding the languages in which to offer your content, and how to go about ensuring translation quality.
The Right Approach to Website Translation
A literal translation, be it through machine translation or via an investment in a subpar team for transforming your content into another language, can render your investment entirely null. The best brands on the planet can’t find success if the target market doesn’t understand or properly interpret their message or subject matter.
To avoid freefalling into a disaster, you need to compile relevant information to create a structure or platform for current and future decision making.
For starters, try to ask yourself the following questions:
- How many languages should I choose for translation?
- Why do I want to invest in translation or transcreation?
- Will the chosen target markets and their potential performance justify translation spending?
- Do I have the resources to invest in website translation?
Creating a list of language options is the first step. Your next endeavour, though, is to heavily investigate each one, compare, and contrast with relevant markets, and determine the likelihood that you’ll see your desired results.
To serve as a sort of crutch during this step, you could look into finding a website translation provider. Look for one that specialises in website translation and transcreation. There are many providers that could service your business well, but be sure to choose one with a strong portfolio and website translation case studies.
You can also look into other sources like Google Analytics and examine website traffic patterns to get a better idea of which languages you should pursue.
Of course, you should adjust your expectations of the outcome for each market accordingly – it’s likely you won’t see results from website translation for some time.
Transform Purpose Into Results
At this point, you should already have your purpose for expanding into new markets. That is, the specific service or product you’re set on offering. With that established, you then have to configure your site and other means of communication to match, improving the likelihood of completing a given objective.
The most common goals in this area of business include boosting traffic, conversion rates, or a company’s online presence.
Translation: Where Search Engine Optimisation Fits In
SEO is a term that’s thrown around far too casually. Yes, keyword and link integration can increase traffic. However, if you lack the right content on your site, no amount of organic traffic will provide results on your end. You need to give your users a reason to click through to your site, stay there to find out more about your goods or services, and eventually convert to paying customers.
Many companies mistakenly believe that the only aspect of SEO that is relevant to website translation is keyword research. In truth, there are many more important considerations that affect the performance of translated websites. User experience, for example, is the rock on which successful website translation is built, and Google knows it.
So, it’s all about combining multiple strategies for a common goal and investing time in figuring out how SEO translation works. Your site needs to be user-friendly, easy to navigate, clear in its objectives, informative, and engaging.
The challenge comes when you realise that all those adjectives mean different things in different languages. Website translation, therefore, becomes a balancing act of personalising content to each specific market while staying true to your website’s voice and tone.
More Traffic? More Engagement? Both?
When it comes to ranking higher on Google, driving more traffic to your website from untapped markets, convincing pre-existing or new visitors to take action, or maintaining interest in your brand, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recipe. Take a closer look below into some variables and how to accomplish these objectives with website translation in mind.
Language and User Population
The first recommendation for driving more traffic to your site, with the proper use of page translation, is to analyse the most commonly used languages on the internet. This might seem like an obvious factor, but many businesses fail to keep it in mind.
Statistics Regarding Online Use of Language
Approximately 90% of online users make purchases exclusively on websites offered in their language. Keep that in mind while reading ahead.
English, Chinese, and Spanish are the top three languages used on the internet. That’s more than half of all users. English alone pertains to 1.8 billion people that surf the web, out of a total of 4.5 billion. This fact is reflected in the astounding number of companies that make sure to translate a website to English.
Depending on the region and variety of dialects, you might consider opting for a less commonly used language. A niche has its advantages, of course. There’s less competition and you’re more likely to become one of only a few sellers of a given product or service. It’s the best pick for long-term growth.
If you’re aiming for quick results using website translation, you’ll need a different approach. The safest option for short-term growth involves using any, or all, of the top ten languages.
Languages in order of largest online population:
- Indonesian / Malaysian
Keep in mind, though, that competing in a market with a large user base that shares a language means you’ll have hefty competition. Long-term results may not come as quickly as expected for website translation to Spanish, for example. Additionally, these contexts change constantly and rapidly, so your investment will be far greater and stretched over longer periods of time than with more niche audiences.
However, a smaller consumer base lets you stay laser-focused on satisfying a reduced number of needs and expectations. It requires less versatility and it’s easier to connect each investment to a specific outcome. If niche audiences are a part of your plan, you should include translating into languages with smaller user bases.
You can appeal to all markets, of course. But even the most translated website in the world can’t succeed without proper direction.
Motivate User Action and Engagement
Maintain meaning. That is, ensure that any expressions or phrases serve the same purpose in any language while adjusting the wording properly. In copywriting, especially, this is essential. For example, landing pages need to push a reader to take action.
There are a plethora of strategies for this, but the concept alone is important in this case. Word count should stay the same, when possible, along with the overall gist. Humour, serious tones, and provocative wording should carry over. These factors keep users across various languages engaged.
Market Research and Traffic Analysis for Website Translation
Once you’ve chosen a region, decided on your product or service, and identified your target market, you need market research to further determine if your desired language translation makes sense.
Determining whether or not you’ll see results involves looking into languages spoken in the region. Consider the percentage of people that speak the language you’re interested in translating. Additionally, find where each section of the population fits socioeconomically and in terms of purchasing power.
Methods for Market Research
There’s no right answer for proper market research. It’s a combination of tool implementation and a team of experts that know how to use them. However, getting a general feel for the context is relatively simple.
You can check website statistics and look into social media insights. Compiling data for future analysis is the easy part. Determining whether or not, and by what margin, your chosen website translation services will impact your content is where things get tricky.
Your best bet? Request assistance from professional marketing specialists (drop us a message, we work with some amazing ones!). With the right coordination, matching your product or service to a region and its language requires less effort on your end. And it’s not just easier; it also improves the likelihood that you’ll achieve your desired results.
Adjusting Your Purpose to Match a Market
So, you’ve determined the purpose of having a multilingual page. Now you have to appeal to your target market in the same way that your products or services do. Remember, sometimes translation and transcreation aren’t enough to guarantee conversion rates and create or maintain purchase habits.
For example, selling cow meat in India isn’t a profitable endeavour. No matter how incredible your Indian website translation is, consumers in the country will avoid your product. Why? Because a majority of the country believes cows are sacred and refuse to eat beef. You need a deeper look into the culture before expecting results – transcreation has you covered, somewhat, in this aspect.
Thus, before trying to break into different markets, consider a few recommendations. You can compare your product or service in the region to competitors. Also, follow the same guidelines that other professionals use to choose profitable markets. You always need a unique feature to stand out, but some already existing website translation strategies will always provide results.
Test the Waters
A hands-on approach is sometimes the optimal choice. Keep a list of the potential languages for translation. You can’t try all of them at the same time without lofty and uncertain investments, so you’ll have to adjust your approach.
Gauging Website Translation Performance in a Market
Pick one language for translation, integrate it properly and measure your site’s progress over the course of a few months. Then ask yourself:
- Did traffic increase?
- Were there more conversions?
- Did the investment in website translation services produce enough results to consider adding another language?
These are all internal, logistical, and translation efficiency analytics. Still, though, you should dedicate part of your team to investigating statistics around the other potential languages you might choose.
Guidance by Your Customers
One major key for success in this sector? Efficient feedback loops for visitors, consistent users, and buyers on your site. This allows constructive criticism, suggestions, and, hopefully, positive reinforcement regarding what you’re doing right. It’s essentially a personalised guide on exactly what you need to change or maintain for improvement.
Affordable Ways to Make Informed Decisions
Observe your competition. If you lack the resources to jump headfirst into the mix, you can always look at what other companies are doing. Identifying the best translation strategies used by larger international companies appealing to the same or similar target audience can provide a ton of informational guidance. Consider their perspectives in a specific market.
A Word of Warning for Website Translation
There are a few website translation techniques and tools you should avoid at all costs. However, it’s important to understand why and compare them to what a proper approach looks like.
Machine translation and transcreation, for example, don’t mix. They’re night and day in terms of implementation and possible results, especially when entering a new market.
While machine translation is a somewhat recent development in the tech world, its advancements have been quite impressive. Regardless, companies and workers in the field should be wise about when to rely on it.
There are a few, but very important, reasons to keep machine translation out of your process. To mention a few, it can’t read into culture cues and often implements a myriad of erroneous translations. You might expect the same results from free website translation services.
There’s no denying that machine translation can reduce effort and time investment for rapid output. The catch, however, can come in the form of loss of meaning, grammatical errors, poor localisation, and confusing statements. This leads to negative impacts on advertising, brand identity, and text meant for engagement.
Once a consumer encounters these mistakes, their opinion of the company drops significantly. Not only does this reduce conversion rates and traffic, but it also benefits your competitors. There’s nothing that convinces a buyer to choose another company than a bad first impression.
The end result is a lost investment in marketing, website translation and an awareness campaign that’s counterproductive in and of itself. So, what now? Invest properly in transcreation and professionals in the field.
Website Translation: Is Transcreation Important?
Websites, by default, include a lot of content designed to convince readers to take a certain action.
Transcreation is the process of recreating persuasive text from one language to another, in a way that will best satisfy the reader. As a result, transcreation is an essential part of effective website translation.
For optimal results, one needs to preserve the original intent, tone and context. It’s tough to carry it over, but it’s also possible. Taking the spirit of an original text and ensuring it carries over involves knowledge of both cultures. Many times, a translator might have to swap out idioms or common sayings for others. The results can differ greatly from a would-be literal translation, but the effect remains the same.
That’s where machine translation can muck things up. In the context of transcreation, the literal transfer of text between two languages proves highly ineffective for maintaining the impact of the original message. Instead, you should contact website translation professionals that know what it means to analyse, properly interpret, and implement the right wording in a translation.
We’ll be happy to help!