7 common mistakes to avoid when translating your website

Ian Abernathy
There has never been a better time to offer your website in more languages. In order to make the most of new, international E-commerce opportunities, take a look at 7 common mistakes to avoid when translating your website.

Capturing the attention of a wider demographic of consumers is key to growing as an online business. While your website may be experiencing success in your native language, offering your services in multiple target languages will help grow your customer base and boost your credibility in the worldwide market.
When translating your website, the process should be carried out while paying strict attention to cultural business trends, traditions and methods of communication. Failure to effectively translate content can not only result in a waste of time and money but a diminished international online presence as well. We have located 7 common mistakes to avoid when translating your website – how to bypass cross-cultural hurdles and emerge into new markets.


There is no single translation faux pas quite as bad as smashing source text into an online translation generator. This kind of method almost always culminates in a shoddy word-for-word rendering that does nothing to bring in business. There are a number of situations that may arise with content that has been translated this way.
There is no single translation faux pas quite as bad as smashing source text into an online translation generator.
Firstly, content will be less compelling to readers in the native language. “Exact” translations of this sort fail to hold on to the context of the original copy and end up confusing the sales pitch and isolating the consumer. In some cases, generators do further harm, misspelling or incorrectly translating certain terms and phrases.


There are plenty of translators who can speak two languages fluently, but there is no substitution for a native translation. Non-native translators, while more efficient than generators, still lack an intrinsic understanding of the local etymology, phrasing, and context of the native language. Native translators, on the other hand, are able to use their distinct understanding of language to “localise” the website to target groups.


For a translation to be truly persuasive, the content must be localised to fit the dialect and cultural specifications of each location. Localising entails that translators draw upon the most relevant and engaging words and phrases native to the region. As an example, an American company selling pants would need to localise their wording for a UK audience. While “pants” is understandable, the term “trousers” is a more common way to describe this product in the UK.

Yuqo quotesConcerning online sales, localising allows you to tailor your pitch to each group of target consumers using the correct language and media.

Localising is a comprehensive task as it involves fully optimising all of the text, images, video, music and advertisements to meet the cultural conditions of each market.
Localising represents an effort to draw consumers in, rather than offend or isolate them with irrelevant or culturally insensitive material. Just as quick as you can win over new global markets, you can isolate your business with careless translations. Even colours and designs conjure up distinct reactions from region to region that can legitimately impact your consumer response.


While it may seem less significant, it is integral not only to translate blog articles and similar content, but everything appearing on the website. For the native consumer’s experience to be most accessible, all content from text to currency and measurements should be applied with the native language and cultures in mind.


No matter if you are marketing to your native language or a new one entirely, SEO is paramount to asserting a distinct presence. Given that SEO tactics change slightly depending on the local language, websites should always plan to start again fresh when it comes to global SEO. Nevertheless, practices like assigning keywords are still important for rewarding SEO.
A common mistake some websites run into is translating keywords verbatim from the source language to the native language. Since every culture maintains very different connotations surrounding their language, these translations fail to hold up on search engines.
To avoid this quandary, discern how to best apply your keywords and pitches to unique markets before translating content. Keywords should be localised (not simply translated) to ensure each set of words pulls its weight. By planning your translations around the native language, there is a better chance of hitting the sweet spot when it comes to successful marketing.


Say you have taken all the necessary precautions to fully translate and localise your website into a native language. Suddenly, you start receiving an influx in business from consumers in this market, but realise you cannot communicate with them effectively as issues arise.
Leaving customers high and dry by not offering localised customer service can be equally if not more frustrating on the consumer’s behalf than a poorly translated site.
Leaving customers high and dry by not offering localised customer service can be equally if not more frustrating on the consumer’s behalf than a poorly translated site. Once again, this goes to show how important it is to be meticulous with details when considering offering your website in different languages.


Although presenting your online business to native markets can be exciting for any entrepreneur, it’s important to focus your attention toward markets that will serve you. Depending on the products or services you sell, certain regions are more likely to engage in E-commerce than others. Perhaps some products are simply not culturally appropriate to a region, or the target consumer base is simply too small to make a real impact sales-wise.
Instead of making these mistakes, direct your attention toward languages and geographic locations which will be excited about what your business offers and will hopefully decide to make purchases.


Learning how to best translate your website into native languages is no easy task for one individual. This is why working with native translators will shave off hours of time spent trying to localise content and find errors in the text. Before deciding to advertise your localised website, be sure that everything has been completed with care and expertise. Double checking your content can save you from making unnecessary errors and boost your opportunity for success.