Thinking about translating your website? Before you do, ask yourself these 6 questions
The first thing you have to remember is that every website is unique, and each one should have its own particular focus when being translated into several languages. Yet there are certain universal rules that you must not lose sight of, which will help you to ensure the right translation / localization. If you’d like to have not only an attractive and interesting website but one that inspires trust in users, then you would do well to remember 6 key, basic points in all your localization processes.
- 1) What is your target market?
Before you get to work on translating your web page, you must have a clear idea about who your audience is. What’s the culture like? What are its values? Does it have local rules? And so on.
It’s important to research each local market, thereby allowing you to adapt the style of your language. Your audience is the center of attention: all your content is targeted at that audience. You must therefore know it well, including its likes and characteristics. This will give you the tools to make an impact in every market.
It will also help you to 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 the mother tongue of your audience. So perhaps the question should be: can you afford it? The truth is that a good translation is not cheap, so here’s some advice to help reduce costs and achieve a good result:
- Eliminate anything superfluous.
- Determine which pages are your main ones (those that are necessary for your website to function), and translate those.
- Analyze which pages are those most frequently accessed by users and which ones generate the most income. Translate those too.
How can you do these analyses? There are several free tools in the market.
- 3) What should the Content Management System (CMS) do? What should you keep in mind regarding videos, text, and images?
First, be sure to choose a CMS that lets you include all the languages you want.
If you find yourself in the position of having to localize a web page that already exists, you might need to add a preliminary step in order to adapt the website you’re starting from. After that, never lose sight of the SEO positioning of your web page.
The ranking of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) represents the position in which a web page appears in the results of Google search engines. What does this Google algorithm depend on? Actually, it’s constantly evolving.
Years ago, being in the search engine’s top positions depended only on the texts in the titles and descriptions. But today, the audiovisual content that is offered to users to improve their experience on web pages is highly relevant, including corporate videos and images. You should also keep in mind that YouTube forms a part of Google, which therefore places great importance on YouTube’s videos in Google’s search results. If you need dubbing or subtitling services, CPSL can help.
At a practical level, the following aspects must be kept in mind:
- Be sure that your site can display any character of any language. The most common option is UTF-8. But if your main markets are Asian, it’s better to use UTF-16.
- You should re-size the pages according to your content. And if a language (such as Arabic) is read from right to left rather than left to right, then you’ll have to change 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” of each image.
- Any text included in images cannot be edited. Moreover, the images you use on your site can have very different connotations depending on who views them in other countries. Ask someone who knows the culture and the target language to review your website.
- 4) How can you plan your SEO strategy?
Your SEO strategy will be one of the keys to success in your localization project, and it is important to plan this strategy from the very start.
Decide on the structure of your domain, localize your key words, and create local target pages.
What does Google require? Quality, original content in a natural language that can be correctly interpreted by search engines, yet that content must continue to be relevant for your audience.
What can you do?
- Extract terminology from your origin content and search for target equivalents in your target market. Use those terms to create quality content that helps to improve your positioning.
- URL format. Ideally, a URL should contain the keyword that you want to position, thereby allowing a search engine to understand that the information of interest to your audience is on that page.
- Meta Title. The Title Tag is what determines the title of a web page. It is one of the first things that 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. It 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 website positioning.
Would you like more information about SEO or about how to implement good multilingual localization of your key words? Download our free guide to help answer your questions and turn your website into a successful tool in your business strategy.
- 5) Are you taking the right approach?
You can tackle the translation process in several ways:
- Traditional translation
Within this model, you keep all the responsibility for housing and publishing your content. It involves the creation of a multilingual CMS and, in some cases, exporting and importing content. It is the most appropriate option if your company is going to completely or partially handle the localization work, or if you are going to be regularly updating your site content: blogs, promotions, new content, etc.
- Translation proxy (mirror or layer)
In this type of translation, users can view the content in their language whenever they request it. Translations are automatic and in real time, or they are extracted from a memory created 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 localization, when you have a very sophisticated website, or when you want to get a feel for the lay of the land in a new market. Also when your organization would like a quick translation.
- 6) Don’t forget: a multilingual website must be responsive
Imagine that your Website Localization strategy is completely developed and implemented. You’re ready to launch your site in several languages, and you suddenly realize that it’s completely out of sync. Did you make sure that your website is completely adapted for mobile devices? A responsive web page is one that can adapt to any device on which a page is viewed. Statistics show the growing Internet traffic coming from mobile devices, and Google’s search engine already penalizes sites that are not responsive. So clearly, your website must be completely optimized for users who access it on their cell phone. There are free tools on the Internet, such as Screen Fly, which show you how content will be viewed in various formats.
If you need to find out if your company truly needs translation and localization, contact a professional so that they can evaluate whether or not localization might be the best option. CPSL will provide you with detailed information about how to proceed and will help you to make the right decision 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. And thereby increase your visibility on the Internet.
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