Thinking about translating your website? Before you do, ask yourself these six questions
The first thing to remember is that every website is unique, and each one should have its own particular focus when translated into multiple languages. Yet there are certain universal rules that you shouldn’t lose sight of and which will help ensure that you get the right translation/localisation. If you want your website to not only be attractive and interesting but also inspire trust in users, you would do well to remember six key points in all your translation and localisation processes.
- 1) What is your target market?
Before you get to work on translating your website, you need to have a clear idea of who your audience is. What is the culture like? What are its values? Does it have local rules? And so on.
It’s important to research each local market so that you can adapt the style of your language. Your audience is the focal point: all your content is targeted to that audience. So, you have to know it well, including its preferences and idiosyncrasies. This will give you the tools you need to make an impact in every market.
It will also help you come up with a list of keywords that could benefit your business.
- 2) Do you need to translate your entire website?
The answer is yes. Ideally, you want to show all content in your users’ native language. So perhaps a better question is can you afford it? The truth is that a quality translation cannot be done cheaply, so here’s some advice to help reduce costs and guarantee good results:
- Eliminate anything superfluous.
- Determine which are the main pages (those that are necessary for your website to function) and translate those.
- Analyse which pages are most frequently accessed by users and which generate the most revenue. Translate those too.
How are these analyses done? There are various free tools available on the market.
- 3) What should the Content Management System (CMS) do? What should you keep in mind in terms of videos, text and images?
First, make sure to choose a CMS that lets you include all the languages you need.
If you find yourself having to localise an existing website, you might need to add a preliminary step to adapt the website you’re starting from. After that, never lose sight of your website’s SEO positioning.
The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking represents the position in which a website appears in Google search results based on an algorithm. How does this Google algorithm work? Actually, it’s constantly evolving.
Years ago, appearing in Google’s top positions depended only on the text used in the titles and descriptions. But, today, the audio-visual content offered to users to improve their experience on websites is very important; this includes corporate videos and images. You should also keep in mind that YouTube is part of Google, which therefore gives YouTube videos considerable weight in Google search results. If you need dubbing or subtitling services, CPSL can help.
At a practical level, the following aspects should be kept in mind:
- Make sure that your site can display any character in any language. The most common option is UTF-8. But, if your main markets are Asian, it’s better to use UTF-16.
- You will need to resize the pages based on your content. And if a language (such as Arabic) is read from right to left rather than left to right, you’ll have to modify the design during the translation process.
- To ensure that Google indexes images in the search engine, you’ll have to fill in the “alt attribute” for each image.
- Text included in images cannot be edited. Moreover, the images you use on your site can have very different connotations to people viewing them in other countries. Ask someone who knows the culture and the target language to review your website.
- 4) How do you plan your SEO strategy?
Your SEO strategy will be a cornerstone of your localisation project, so it’s important to plan this strategy from the very start.
Decide on the structure of your domain, localise your keywords, and create local target pages.
What does Google need? Quality original, content expressed in a natural language that can be correctly interpreted by search engines while also being relevant for your audience.
What can you do?
- Extract terminology from your source content and search for appropriate equivalents in the target language Use these terms to create quality content that helps improve your positioning.
- URL format. Ideally, a URL should contain the keyword you want to feature to enable a search engine to understand that your page contains information of interest to your audience.
- Meta Title. The Title Tag is what determines the title of a web page. It’s one of the first things the Internet user sees. Search engines use the Title Tag as a criterion for indexing a page. You have to include keywords in the Title Tag.
- Meta Description. This has a character limit. While meta description tags do not affect the ranking, they are important for improving the click-through rate (CTR) on results pages.
- Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.): these tags are very important for web page positioning.
Would you like more information about SEO or about how to achieve good multilingual localisation of your keywords? Download our free guide to get answers to your questions and turn your website into a powerful tool in your business strategy.
- 5) Are you using the right approach?
There are several ways to approach the translation process:
- Traditional translation
With this model, you retain all the responsibility for storing and publishing your content. It involves the creation of a multilingual CMS and, in some cases, exporting and importing content. It’s the best option if your company is going to do some or all of the localisation work in-house, or if you are going to be regularly updating your site content: blogs, promotions, new content, etc.
- Translation proxy (mirror or layer)
With this type of translation, users can view the content in their language whenever they request it. The translations are either automatic and generated in real time or extracted from a memory built by professional translators. From a technical point of view, it’s like mirroring the website in different languages. When is this type of translation appropriate? When the content of your CMS cannot be provided for localisation, when you have a very sophisticated website, or when you want to get to know the lay of the land in a new market. And also when your organisation would like a quick translation.
Example of how CPSL handles localisation of some websites
- 6) Don’t forget: a multilingual website has to be responsive
Imagine that your website localisation strategy is fully developed and implemented. You’re all set to launch it in several languages, and you suddenly realise that it’s completely out of sync. Did you make sure that your website is fully adapted for mobile devices? A responsive web page is one that can adapt on the fly to any device used to view it. Statistics show that more and more Internet traffic is coming from mobile devices, and Google’s search engine now penalises sites that are not responsive. So, clearly, your website must be fully optimised for users who access it from their smart phone or tablet. There are free tools on the Internet, such as Screen Fly, that show how content will appear in various formats.
If you want to find out if your company truly needs translation and localisation, contact a professional so that they can evaluate whether or not localisation might be the best option. CPSL will give you detailed information about how to proceed and help you make the right choices when taking your business international.
And, remember that if you need more information about multilingual SEO, you can download a free practical guide here to learn how to position your keywords in different languages to raise your visibility on the Internet.
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