How to successfully translate your website and tap into foreign markets

Steven Mike Voser
Steven Mike Voser
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Looking to bring your Online business to the next level? You may have heard that expanding into global markets can dramatically boost sales, and you are right! We break down 6 tips to help localise your website and tap into foreign markets.
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Ready to expand your business? Then it might be time to translate your website. It goes without saying that having your entire website written in a singular language limits your ability to reach more customers, especially if that language is English. While many people consider English a “global language,” it is actually only the 3rd most spoken language in the world, running neck-and-neck with Spanish and Hindi and preceded by Chinese. So, for many small-to-medium-sized businesses and online startups, translating their website to reach a more global audience is often the next big step to expanding their business. But what if we told you that simply running multiple language versions of your website isn’t enough to build that global audience you dream of? In order to truly cater your website to a global audience, you don’t just need to translate it; you need to localise it as well. Read on to find out more about website localisation – how it works and how it can help you expand your business worldwide.

 

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WHY TRANSLATING ISN’T ENOUGH

Translating is a really important aspect to successfully growing your business. After all, the first step to reaching customers around the globe is making sure you can communicate with them. But when we talk about building a loyal global audience, simply translating text doesn’t cut it. That’s where localisation comes in. Localisation, as the name suggests, is the process of adjusting and optimising a website for another culture. To put it simply, localisation is the process of making your business seem “local.” This process goes beyond simply taking words from a page and translating them into another language.

Instead, it requires companies to consider important details of their site (including design and layout, as well as type of content) and tweaking them to suit another culture. Imagine you’re preparing someone for a job interview. It’s not enough for your candidate to “look” the part for the job; he/she has to play the part too. Regardless of how well you’ve groomed your candidate, they’re unlikely to get the job if you haven’t prepared them with industry knowledge and the ability to demonstrate their understanding of the field. That’s the difference between translation and localisation; translation can get you to ‘talk the talk” with your global customers, while localisation lets you “walk the walk.”

 

6 TIPS TO LOCALISE YOUR WEBSITE

Now that you have a general understanding of localisation, it will become easier to implement new strategies into your online campaigns. Are you ready to build that global audience you’ve always wanted? Read on for 6 crucial tips to localise your website and start expanding your business into foreign markets.

 

Read on for 6 crucial tips to localise your website and start expanding your business into foreign markets.

 

1: DECIDE WHERE TO SELL

One of the most integral ingredients for success in foreign markets is choosing the right right place to sell. There are almost 200 countries around the world and you’ll want to make sure you pick the right ones based on your industry and products/services. To help narrow down some potential foreign markets, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a market for my products/services in this country?
  • Are there taxes, tariffs, or regulations that might affect my ability to market and sell my products/services here?
  • Do my products/services violate any cultural taboos or sensitive issues?
  • Are there internet restrictions in the country that may affect my business?

 

2: START TO THINK ABOUT LANGUAGE

Once you’ve found an ideal marketplace (or a few), it’s time to start making some basic language considerations. Are you planning to expand into the Swiss market? Remember that Switzerland has 4 official languages (German, French, Italian, and Romansch). What about Paraguay, where people speak both Spanish and Guarani? Or China, which has 7 major dialects and 2 separate, official written languages? Once you’ve determined the basic language trends in your next potential market, dig a little deeper. How is the French spoken in France different to that of Quebec? How will the difference between Swiss and High German affect the way you market/present yourself? Understanding the specific details of the language/s spoken in your next target market is key to properly communicating with your audience there.

 

3: FORGET ABOUT MACHINE TRANSLATION

You’ve found your next target market and familiarised yourself with its language/s. Now it’s time to move on to translating. When it comes to translating your website, it’s essential to work with experienced professional translators. Machine translation APIs like Google Translate are fine if you need a fast, unofficial translation of a single line or phrase. However, try using one of these apps to translate an entire web page and you’ll soon be running for the hills. Unfortunately, translation technology is far from perfect. This is because translation apps produce mechanical and direct translations of words and phrases without taking into account grammar, idioms, local dialects or phrases, conventions, and context. The results are useless for any kind of official purposes.

Human translations, on the other hand, are formatted using local context, colloquialisms and slang. Real live translators also sustain a more well-developed knowledge of syntax, which is important when localising content. Translating isn’t a mathematical equation or scientific calculation. It is a complex process which involves a deep understanding of the languages in question. By working with human translators, you’re able to leverage their unique experience and skill to go far beyond simple word-for-word renderings. Instead, you’re able to craft powerful content in another language that best preserves the message behind your brand and products/services.

 

Instead, you’re able to craft powerful content in another language that best preserves the message behind your brand and products/services.

 

4: THINK ABOUT CULTURE

Seemingly innocent phrases can have distasteful meanings when translated into other languages or dialects. In Spain, for example, “currar” means to work. In Argentina, on the other hand, it means “to trick” or cheat. When translating your website and preparing to launch into a new market, it is really important you take the time to understand these cultural nuances, trends and taboos. Not only this will help you avoid simple misunderstandings or uncomfortable situations, it will also help you build trust and loyalty among your new customers. By keeping close tabs on specific cultural considerations and updating your content to boot, you’re able to completely change the way you connect with your audience. Scanning important information like terms and conditions and privacy policy, then honing them to a local language will help you appear transparent, honest and willing to provide customer assistance. Incorporating local idioms and phrases into your marketing materials will help close the gap between your brand and your consumers. Over time, these simple considerations will help you build a business that your customers rely on, despite which location the website is based out of.

 

5: ADJUST YOUR DESIGN

Another primary concern with localising is design and layout. In the West, we read from left to right. This means most websites are optimised for F-shaped reading patterns, as most of a user’s attention tends to fall on the left-hand side of the page. But what if you plan to expand into an Arabic-speaking country where people read from right to left? You can’t expect to throw your content into a layout that has been tailored to Western reading patterns and expect to hit it off with your new Arabic audience. Space is another important aspect of website design that is greatly impacted upon translation. Text expansion and contraction is a legitimate quandary for many business.

If you’re planning to move into a German-speaking market, for example, you’ll soon find that some words translated from English are extremely long, despite using the same Latin characters. Besides that, there are countless languages with their own symbols and characters, all of which will affect the spacing between the various components of your site. All of these subtle details have a huge effect on how your website looks and feels. To maximise your chances for success in a new market, you’ll want to make sure you compensate for these details in your overall design.

 

6: PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO DETAIL

There are myriad details to consider when localising your website, from calendars and measurements to the overall tone of your copy. Preparing for these changes all comes down to adequately understanding your new target market. Hence, it’s really important to spend time brainstorming all the possible variables that could affect the launch of your brand in a new region and planning for them accordingly.

At Yuqo, we pride ourselves on working with hand-picked professionals, offering tailor-made services designed to help you prepare for this shift as easily as possible. From native translating and writing to professional design services, we’re confident we can help you effectively localise your website and streamline your transition into new markets. This will help you to connect with your new customers and, in the long run, build a powerful presence that people trust and respect. To find out more information about our services and competitive prices, contact us today. For more articles like this, remember to regularly check out our blog.