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March 23, 2015

Translating Your Content: Can It Help Your Site Rank?

As a small business owner driven by big marketing goals, you are probably striving to come up with new methods to reach a larger audience. You know you can do better. You can make your website rank higher in search engine results, turn more prospects into devoted clients and target new markets that would welcome your products or services with open arms.

So the question is this: can translating your content support these bold objectives?

The simplest answer to this question is “yes.” Just think about it: regardless of their nationality, cultural background and personal preferences, all your buyers have one thing in common: their large appetite for palatable, understandable and relevant content. As Smashing Magazine points out, in this case translation is not everything; nonetheless, it does represent a solid bridge that you can build to develop and deepen your bond with different audiences on a global level.

Could a Multilingual Website Help You Tackle the Whole World?

In his book, entitled Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies, John Yunker affirms that a multilingual website is now seen as a necessity, not a luxury. A few years ago, during the inception phase of the Internet, web users were forced to stick to English-language websites simply because they didn’t have too many other options at hand. Nonetheless, times have changed and today savvy business owners bend over backwards to demolish linguistic and cultural barriers and adapt their message to the language of their clients and prospects.

If you still think that proper website localization is no big deal, now would be a good time to reconsider. According to the data provided by IDC, the prominent research firm, online visitors are up to four times more likely to spend their money on a product or service offered by a company that goes to the trouble to speak in their own language. Whether you see content translation as an act of courtesy or a clever marketing strategy set in place to consolidate your position in a new market, one thing’s certain: website localization can enable you to gain and maintain a solid competitive advantage, sell more and take brand recognition to a whole new level.

5 Simple Tips on How Translate Your Web Content

Now you know just how important it really is to tailor your writing based on the needs and demands of your audience; so you want to make sure that you and your prospects speak the same language (literally!). In this particular context, here are a few tips on how to translate your web content faultlessly to help your website rank and convert better.

  1. Identify and Explore Your Core Markets. What countries are you targeting? Who are the people who would be more inclined to buy your products, where do they live and what language(s) do they speak? Conduct in-depth research to discover the most accurate answers to these questions. This is the simplest way to identify your new core markets and their most important particularities.
  2. Turn the Cultural Context into Your Main Focal Point. Here’s an important aspect that you should take into consideration from the start: there is no such thing as a simple formula that one can use to automatically translate an entire English-language website to Mandarin. According to an article published by Entrepreneur, a world-class multilingual web presence has different nuances that any small business owner should be familiar with before making a first step towards conquering new markets via content translation. In other words, you should always focus on the cultural context.

Brand blunders are not as uncommon as you may be inclined to think. These slips are fueled by an incorrect understanding of consumer attitude, culture and language associated with a new market that a company may wish to penetrate. While getting acquainted with the good, the bad, the hilarious and the dangers of content translation, you may want to look at Pepsi’s epic failure recorded while trying to bond with its Chinese consumers. Its slogan (“Come Alive”) was mistranslated in Cantonese and Mandarin. This otherwise catchy slogan ended up reading “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Dead.” This is the type of cross-language advertising error that can wipe a small business off the face of the earth, so choose your words wisely and settle for no less than professional content translation services.

  1. Employ the Right Search Engine Optimization Tactics. While all your competitors are employing different tactics to land on the first page in the search engine results, a cohesive SEO plan remains a necessity. In this case, you should keep optimization strategies in mind for every single language that you wish to rely on to convey your message. Here’s the problem that may arise while trying to optimize your translated content: just because several keywords are extremely popular in your language (English), this doesn’t mean that their translated versions would automatically represent preferred keywords in other languages. Finding the most popular keywords in the new languages that you will be using is an essential part of the job. The bad news is that you would have to match words in English against their high-ranking translated equivalents that you could identify via Google Trends. The good news is that consistency and perseverance will eventually get you where you want to be, in terms of keyword research and successful optimization.
  2. Hire the Best Team of Translators. Assuming that you wish to count on website localization to become visible on a global scale, you should know that technology can support your goal. Google Translate is only one aid that can help you speak the language of your prospects; software such as Trados also does a good job at assisting small business owners and translators. However, when your good name and profitability are on the line, you shouldn’t settle for less than professional content translation services. Why? The answer is simple: only a professional will give you the chance to preserve the tone and nuances of the original text that you wish to translate, while helping you avoid awkward structures based on word-for-word translation, which could easily impact the structure and meaning of your sentences.
  3. Be Ready to Prevent and Address Potential Market-Specific Issues. In Japan, sarcasm is seen as a meaningless concept. The U.S. has a relaxed business style that gives you the highest level of freedom when it comes to selecting your tone of copy. On the other hand, in Poland, your clients and partners would expect a higher level of formality from you. How can you bridge these gaps and prevent potentially awkward situations? If you count on a big budget for your expansion, consider hiring a local consultant who could help you understand how your new public thinks and responds to marketing messages similar to the ones that you’re getting ready to launch.

Make Sure Your Content Gets Understood

At the end of the day, remember that it is vital to make sure that your message is heard, understood and assimilated by the new audiences that you wish to target. If you are determined to turn website localization into one of your main priorities, follow all the right steps to make sure that your translated content will be appreciated by both human visitors and search engines. Done right, SEO-friendly content translation can help you occupy a privileged position in the SERPs and increase your profit margins with minimal effort. Translating your content may involve certain expenses, but in the long run it can become a smart investment that will help you overcome barriers set in place by distance and cultural and linguistic differences and bond with a larger public that is dying to hear about you and your products- in their own language.


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Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.

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