Adapting your website for your target consumer base is a necessity, so when it comes to reaching an international market, this often means translating your content into an entirely different language. This decision is not just strategic for reaching a wider range of global buyers – it is a necessity for many brands, according to "Can't Read, Won't Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites," a study conducted by Common Sense Advisory.
"There is little question as to whether or not your international website should be in a different language."
But when it comes to adapting your content, what is best? Should you trust machine translation, or are you better served by professional translation services? If you are unsure, consider running the following thought exercise to discover whether your business should invest in a high-quality language translation tool.
1. Set up a multilingual site
There is little question as to whether or not your website should be in a different language when reaching across the language barrier. Research firm IDC found that online shoppers are four times more likely to purchase from sites in their own language. You have a few options when it comes to creating a new multilingual site – instead of investing in an entirely new website, create new pages through your website development software that become accessible once a visitor has opted for a specific language. For more details regarding the technicalities of setting up a new site, check out the article "How to Create a Multilingual Website" from Entrepreneur magazine.
2. Machine translate
Once you have gotten the details worked out, it is time to start translating your content. Use a machine translator – such as the one provided by Google – and replace your English content on your new pages. This can be a simple switch for retail sites with short descriptions and words that indicate products, but you will notice that once you get to longer form content, your translations may begin to lose meaning. For challenging content, like detailed services or descriptive landing pages, these improper translations can cost you customers.
3. Measure traffic
But how can you tell whether your machine translations are accurate? If you do not speak the language and you do not have any connections who can assist you, the best way to test the efficiency of your site is by measuring the traffic. Chances are, you will find that your international pages have fewer click rates than your English ones. If you have found that there are significant discrepancies between the sales on your English site and your global sites, it may be worth it to seek a quote from companies that offer localization services. Professional translators can catch the small things those machines may have missed, such as grammar, vocabulary and cultural differences that can impact sales. It is best to spot these concerns in the early stages of website development and launching, as you can establish your business as both reputable and knowledgeable among your targeted global consumers.