How & Why to Successfully Translate Your Website

Illustrator: Ana Galvañ
how to translate your website

Did you know that Visual Capital reported that only 16.2% of internet users speak English? If you never thought about translating your website, you might want to reconsider doing it right away.

If you're not sure how to make your website multilingual, we've got you covered. This article will discuss how translation makes a website increase user engagement and traffic. I'll also take you through the process of implementing good translation into your website. 

Now, let's dive right into it! 

The Advantages of a Website with Good Translation

What is a good translation? What are the qualities of one? 

Translation makes or breaks the user's experience. There are no guides on what makes a successful translation or not. However, it's easier to differentiate and define a poor quality of translation from a good one, so let's start there.

Poor translation consists of multiple grammatical errors that make it feel stilted and clunky, and the meaning of certain words and phrases becomes lost. From this, we get the idea that a good translation sounds and feels natural like a native speaker wrote it because the text's meaning remains the same to its intended audience.

When it comes to a translation for a website, it enables people who speak different languages to connect with your content. Before discussing how you can start building a website in just about any language, let's go through its benefits one by one: 

#1. Boosts Website Traffic

Redokun reported that only 25.3% of the world's content is English. It makes you wonder what about the 74.7%? 

By limiting yourself to a monolingual website, you're denying yourself the potential in gaining access to other markets, which you and your competitors have overlooked.

For example, Google has different tags and translation-related features that will identify what language speaker or geographic location your website is targeting, which we'll discuss more on multilingual SEO.

Not only that but having successful translation in your website's content will increase user engagement and interaction, which makes sense as 40% of users said they would never purchase from English-only websites. 

#2. Enhances Customer Journey

Another reason you should create a multilingual-friendly website is because it will enhance your customer's experience. Because about 65% of online users said that even if the multilingual content were of poor quality, they would prefer it to English-only content. 

Sadly, many non-English speaking users have to settle for less regarding the kind of online content available, negatively affecting their customer journey. Put yourself in their shoes. 

If you saw a website that offers a good translation of online content in your native language, wouldn't you frequently go back to that website, especially since there's not much content in your native language to begin with?

#3. Boosts User Convenience

It's no secret that reading and thinking in your native language is just more convenient. 

Even if your international users are proficient in English, they would have to translate the text in their language to understand it fully. Some non-native English speakers have mastered this process effectively to the point that it's second nature to them.

But as previously stated, a majority of them still want content in their native language even if they're proficient in English. This is because our first language is closely connected to our identity, making it more personal and visceral.

#4. Helps Build a Connection with Users

When it comes to creating a multilingual-friendly website, it's all about building a connection with your target locale. 

Suppose you're planning to form any connection with your international users. In that case, you will need to understand the kind of people interested in your business's products and services and make your website's user experience in line with their expectations.

One way by doing this is through having a content marketing strategy based on their cultural preference and native language, especially since online buyers usually read three to five content before contacting sales representatives. 

#5. Allows Your Website to Enter Foreign Markets

The best thing about creating a website available in multiple languages is that you're making your website available in several different markets, and it will increase user engagement. 

Many small and medium businesses have used this to enter international markets as it allows your website to be featured in search engines tailored explicitly to certain countries or regions. They have also used SEO to promote their websites in their target markets, especially 93% of web traffic comes from search engines.

3 Ways to Implement a Good Translation 

When planning to build a website in another language, you can choose to use plug-in translations, hire a company with expertise in translating for websites or create a team of freelance translators and web developers. 

Plug-in Translation 

Plug-in translation is an automated translation used in websites that are either automatically or manually done. The technology used is the same as a machine translation, like Google.

Of the three options in this article, it's the cheapest and fastest service. Some plug-ins will provide automated translations, but you can manually edit it, which is good if you're fluent in another language.

However, there's a reason why courts don't accept translations from machines. There's a high probability that the quality of the translation isn't that good because translation technology relies on previous data on the language pair that's being used in translation. 

QUICK TIP: We don't advise that you use Google Translate's plug-in because it has been known to provide inaccurate translations, especially to uncommon languages. We suggest that you still seek out linguists to double-check the translations' quality on your website.

Professional Translation Provider

The benefit of hiring one is that you have web developers, professional translators, and experts in multilingual SEO all managing under this company. You won't need to worry about hiring professionals specializing in specific fields to create your multilingual-friendly website.

However, if you choose to seek their expertise, I have written some questions that you will need to answer:

  • How many languages and language pairs do they offer?
  • What is the translation process for pre-existing websites?
  • What other language solutions and services do they offer?
  • What kind of tools and technology do they use?
  • What are the credentials and certifications of their translators and web developers?

The disadvantage of hiring them is that they're more expensive compared to hiring freelancers. However, given that the team assigned has years of experience in shifting monolingual websites to multilingual ones, you're assured that changes to your website are correctly handled.   

Another benefit of hiring them is that they can facilitate conducting local market research and implementing multilingual SEO to your website, which we will discuss later. 

QUICK TIP: When researching and evaluating their services, you can look into consumer review websites like Trustpilot and get feedback from their previous clients. Also, ask if they offer warranties for up to at least a year.   

Multilingual Freelance Team

If you decide to create your translation team, you will need to look for freelancers on websites like Upwork and Freelancer. You would have to evaluate their expertise based on ratings given by previous employers.  

When creating a team of freelancers, you need web developers, SEO experts, and translators. If you're planning to make your website available in only five to seven languages, then hiring a native freelance translator is suitable for your situation. 

The benefit of having your team is that you have complete control of your website's development and progress. You're being cost-effective because it's cheaper to hire freelance workers than seek out the services of another company. 

The disadvantage of having your multilingual team is that you're limited to only some languages. Also, they often don't have access to tools and machinery to integrate good translation into your website. 

QUICK TIP: Before hiring a native freelance translator, make sure they have experience translating websites and have the right software tools for the job. 

How to Implement Successful Translation in 4 Steps

Now that I've established the benefits of creating a multilingual-friendly website, here are some considerations that increase user engagement that you should look into before you begin: 

Conduct Local Market Research

Once you've decided on either a professional company or freelancers that'll be part of your team, the next thing you will have to consider is local market research. Research is the backbone for any successful marketing campaign, especially if you plan to attract international users. 

When conducting local market research, I suggest that you consider local competitors and examine their marketing strategy, local products or services, pricing, and other details. Local market research will involve understanding how your target locale does business, what standard marketing practices local competitors utilize that are successful, the regional policies you will need to comply with, etc.

It's also crucial to develop a more comprehensive understanding of your target market, such as the social, political, and cultural nuances that directly and indirectly affect it. 

For example, Baidu is the most popular search engine website in mainland China. Let's say you didn't know about that and instead followed your Google SEO marketing strategy. Your website wouldn't reach your target locale because almost nobody uses Google in mainland China. After all, it's banned. 

Another example of this is South Korea. South Korea's leading search engine isn't Google but Naver. It's popular in South Korea due to its content and search engine website tailored around South Korean culture and language.

As you can see, local market research is vital if you're planning to make the most out of your website's digital marketing strategy.  

Multilingual SEO

Even though some would consider the Golden Age of SEO is dead, it's still worth trying to implement SEO within your website, especially if you're planning to enter a new market. Before you have a couple of anchor texts, you could easily rank in Google. With the recent changes, you will need to incorporate SEO into your content will increase user engagement and effectively provide vital information.

To get started in multilingual SEO, Moz explains three key things: 

(1) structuring your website's URL to be international-friendly, 

(2) Connecting your users to their native languages, and 

(3) creating content based on your target locale's languages.  

The key thing to remember is that even if a user is located in a geographical area with a high number of certain native speakers, it doesn't immediately mean that they are native speakers of that language. 

For example, your website's location page is the US, a country that is statistically with a high population of native English speakers. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone in the US is an English or Spanish speaker. Many companies neglect to cater to a significant population of Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and French Creole speakers in the US. 

QUICK TIP: Take advantage of this because, most probably, your competitors neglect these demographic groups as well.

When creating a multilingual SEO strategy for your website, many factors should be considered, such as hreflang tags, ccTLDs, Geo-targeting, subdomain, URL structures, etc. You can refer to Moz's guide.  

Build a Content Strategy for Your Target Locale

Content strategy is when you create a marketing plan wherein the audio, visual, and written content is used to achieve a business goal. A good translation is a half of what makes it successfully engaging. The other half is researching your ideal consumer and understanding their behavior.

QUICK TIP: If you're planning to create your website and its contents in several languages, collaborating with a translation provider is your best bet, as they can facilitate the creation of a multilingual content strategy.

This is without a doubt where your local market research will come in handy. You can build a content strategy that will guide you in making high-quality multilingual content.

By having a multilingual content strategy, it will ensure that:

  • You're creating well-researched content.
  • It will help you quickly incorporate SEO into your content.
  • It can help you attract quality leads to your website.

Test and Retest

Once you've set up your multilingual content, I advise you to conduct QA and evaluate it via a test audience from your target locale to ensure that everything is running correctly and linguistically correct.

Don't immediately launch your website until you're sure everything is running smoothly. User experience (UX) is essential because, on average, users stay in a website for 10-20 seconds.

Does Customizing UX Design for Target Locale Matter?

Besides having a good website translation, you need to think about the user experience(UX). UX isn't only about ensuring that your users can navigate your website efficiently but creating an experience they would like to go through again. 

Making your website accessible in different languages and markets is just part of the UX. When it comes to the nitty-gritty details, you will have to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What parts of your website design are you willing to change for your target locale?
  • What aspects of your brand would you like to retain?
  • What tone of voice would you like your target locale to associate with your brand, casual or professional?
  • What cultural aspects would you want your brand to be connected with?

QUICK TIP: There has been countless research regarding the psychology of imagery and color palettes in connection to website conversions. I suggest that you research cultural preferences as they can affect the color palette of your website's UX design.  

For example, western countries perceive the color blue as dependable. Meanwhile, bright colors like red and orange are the most commonly used website palette in China. The color red has symbolic significance because Chinese consumers associate it with hongbao (red envelope) used to give money or the color of 100 yuan. So consider this when conducting market research.

Final Thoughts

In this day and age, users expect more from websites regarding usability and convenience. They want to see the quality of good translation in their reading content. Creating a website in different languages will broaden your website's opportunities and increase user engagement in foreign markets that wouldn't be possible if it remained monolingual. 

Whether you decide to collaborate with outside or in-house language experts, changing your monolingual website to a multilingual one will take some time. Hopefully, this article will help you get started on your path to creating one right away.