Despite all the valid reasons behind translating your website content—it’s good for marketing and SEO, it’s more inclusive, etc.—it might not be as beneficial as you’d expect. Let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons why translating your website is probably not in your best interest.
1: TOO MUCH WORK — TOO LITTLE REWARD
If you’re going to translate your website, you’ll need to do it to the best of your ability; and if you’re doing it right, then it’s going to take a lot of work. Sure, it might render some results in the form of a few extra visitors, but you need to ask yourself if the level of work you’re putting in is worth the engagement you’re getting.
In some cases, the hard work is absolutely worth it. But if it’s becoming overwhelming, or your translations are subpar, you risk driving down the quality of your content and potentially offending visitors from different cultures. So, when translating content, ask yourself questions like, “How many of these new visitors are becoming clients?”. If you’re not happy with the results, it may be time to reevaluate.
2: ENGLISH STILL DOMINATES
One of the most notable arguments people bring up in favour of translating is that the number of internet users who speak other languages is growing… and they’re right! But how many of these people also speak/read/understand English? Not only that, but the number of English-speaking internet users is growing as well. Research indicates that around 59% of the top 10 million websites feature English content.
In a best-case scenario, you will offer translated content if you heavily engage non-English markets. But some fledgling startups, for example, can get along just fine with English. Once you decide to go global, however, translation and localisation become much more crucial.
3: FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS
If you own a small e-commerce business and have to manage marketing, advertising, payroll, and daily operations, you know that time is extremely limited and valuable. You have to make sure to focus on what will bring you the most clientele and revenue. Most of the time, that can be broken down into providing excellent customer service to encourage repeat business, and effective marketing to get new clients.
If you feel that a specific language is worth translating into because it engages your target customer base, you can prioritise your translations so you’re using time and resources wisely. For example, if you’re attracting a large Spanish-speaking market, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should also offer content in Mandarin and Dutch as well. Focus on the markets and languages most relevant to your business.
4: SYNTAX, IDIOMS, AND LOCALISATION
Syntax is what makes each language different, and idioms and phrases are unique to different languages and cultures. Going back to the first point, it is so crucial not to rush or be careless when translating content. If you use a program like Google Translate, it will do a word-for-word translation, but won’t take into account any kind of context or personalisation. A sentence written in one language can have a completely different meaning if it’s not localised correctly.
A comprehensive translation strategy is really more accurately represented as a localisation/transcreation strategy, as cultural nuances run deep in language and extend to imagery and other facets of marketing. If you can’t speak with authority in your translated texts, they won’t do anything beneficial for your business.
5: IT’S EASY TO MAKE MISTAKES
In case you’re still unsure, translation is a lot of work. That said, it can be really easy to make a mistake (or many). Some common translation mistakes include: not accounting for SEO and keyword changes, not localising customer service, translating too many languages (to avoid this, check your analytics page to see what countries your visitors come from), digital translation errors, etc.
In addition to creating translated content, it’s essential to verify the content for accuracy and presentation, which requires another set of (experienced) eyes. To avoid publishing mistakes, it’s always best to work with native translators who have an intimate understanding of both English and the target language.
So, there you have it. Although sometimes it can be a great idea to translate your website content, other times it’s not, and you’ll have to weigh the benefits versus the amount of work you’re putting in to make a confident decision for your brand or business!