Translating your website’s content may not be at the top of your list – after all, there are so many other things that seem more important.
You may also believe that English is the universal language of the World Wide Web, and you would be correct. It still holds the supreme spot for over a billion internet users and a significant percentage of websites across the globe.
However, depending on where you do business and whom you do business with, you could potentially hugely benefit from translating your website into another language.
Let’s explore further.
What kinds of businesses should translate their websites?
Website translation and localization is a time- and resource-consuming process, so you want to make sure it’s a good fit for your business and an effective tool for your needs. If your business falls into one of the following categories, the ROI of the effort should be worth your while:
Ecommerce businesses operating internationally
If you operate in international markets, translating your website to all of the languages you do business in is highly advisable. Most business people consider their core English website is enough to market their products, yet a study shows that over 55% of consumers value being able to access an offer in their own language over the cost of the same offer.
Even if you ‘only’ offer worldwide shipping, you might want to look into translating the website into the languages most of your customers come from. As most businesses are not going to make an effort, you will instantly gain an edge over your competition.
Businesses operating in countries where more than one language is spoken
If you operate in a country with more than one official language (like Canada or Belgium), or even in a country where more than one language is spoken by a large number of people (like the US), translating your website could, again, give you a huge edge.
While it’s true that customers from these countries most often speak two or more languages, catering to them like others don’t is a valuable and tactical move.
Travel, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment businesses
As the world keeps getting smaller with the developments we’re making in transportation and tech, more and more people travel not only for leisure, but for business as well.
And while having an English website in the travel and hospitality industry will certainly be enough, imagine what kinds of visitors you could attract if you also had a version in their mother tongue.
Most websites in the industry are bilingual to begin with – they have a website version in the local language, and another one in English. But adding another (or several other) versions as well could attract another market segment altogether.
Make sure you don’t choose your languages randomly. Just because a language is spoken by a large number of people doesn’t mean these are the people who will come visit you. Do some research on the countries of origin of the majority of visitors your establishment could cater to, and base your translation on actual facts.
Companies that offer digital products
If what you are selling is digital, marketing it in another language can give you instant access to an entirely new market. True, this will mean you will need to put in extra effort to create a multilingual product, but that’s a small cost compared to the revenues entering a new market could afford you.
When you think about it, no matter where you live in the world, most of the tools and software you use are in English, and you simply have to learn enough of the language to use them. What if you could have a version in your mother tongue that worked just as well, but was easier to get around? Think of the possibilities.
Website translation: important notes
When you do decide to translate your website, you need to make sure that it is being done right.
Make it sound native
If your website sounds too rigid or doesn’t use the correct terms and colloquialisms, you won’t be coming off as very professional.
You know how you think that people who can’t get their definite articles straight in English sound odd? The same goes for all other languages. If you’re doing a Spanish website, make sure you get your transition words right. In French, make sure your gender agreements are correct. The same goes for German.
Don’t let a non-native speaker do all the work
Translators are taught never to accept work if it’s not a translation into their native language. The premise is that no matter how well you speak a foreign language, you’re never going to be as good at it as a native speaker.
When translating your website, make sure that a native speaker of the language, preferably from the country you’re going to be targeting, reads the translation as well.
You can easily find someone ready to take on the work online, and thus ensure your new website version is spot on.
Don’t forget about optimization
Google treats multilingual websites differently than mere English websites, so make sure you clearly denote which website version targets which language and country.
Also, don’t create a separate website for each version: have them all on the same domain, but on different subdomains. This will give your rankings a boost as well.
And don’t forget about promotion
Once you have everything ready, don’t forget that you are the only one who knows about the new language version. You need to promote it among your target audience so that they are aware of you and your brand. Don’t just expect someone from Spain to stumble across your Spanish website version if you have done nothing to promote it.
In other words, after you’ve optimized all the on-page elements, make sure you do some off-page promotion as well, and do it in your new target language. It might be a challenge, but it will be well worth it.
Now that you know all of the benefits of website translation, hopefully you will be making a name for yourself in new markets across the globe.