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How to… translate your website

Localise for success in international markets with a results-driven approach

Download this how-to guide as a PDF

Why is translating your website so important?

If you’re thinking of going international, then localising your website for your overseas customers is essential. There’s no shortage of translation agencies out there that can help, but doing it well by engaging with your customers and maximising conversions across markets is by no means a given. Here at ALM, we’ve put together a short guide with some tips on how to translate your website and make sure you can compete in global markets.

Choosing your market

First things first, which market are you going to enter? There are many factors to consider depending on your industry and your product/service.

  • Research: Identify the markets you think will work best for your company. Look at your target customer demographic and also look at what your competitors are doing in those markets.
  • Know your market: Once you’ve chosen which markets you are serious about entering, learn everything that you can about them. Specifically, conversion rates by market and by industry in that market. ALM can help you conduct a competitor analysis for your target markets to help set market-specific goals for revenue or ROI.
  • Find a good localisation partner early on: Look for a translation company that also offers digital services and that understands how to localise your marketing strategy to get the best results for your website. They will be able to provide insights into local-market buyer preferences and trends that will help shape your international strategy to drive better performance.

Let’s get technical

Content aside, there are also technical considerations when moving to a multilingual, multi-market website. Make sure your translation partner has experience working with content management systems and has robust workflows to ensure a smooth roundtrip process: from working with the content export, to ensuring the translated content imports easily back into your CMS, ready to go live.

  • Content Management System: Check out whether your CMS can handle multiple languages. Most CMSs nowadays can handle multilingual content, although some better than others. WordPress has access to several plugins that allow for multiple languages. Others, such as Umbraco and Kentico don’t always require a plugin to export but using one helps facilitate workflow management. Your translation partner should be able to advise on which plugins and workflows will work best for you.
  • File Format: Most CMSs export content to CSV, XML or JSON. If your CMS uses something else, your translation partner should have the know-how to be able to work with it, including ensuring all translated pages import back into your CMS seamlessly.
  • Roundtrip the workflow before you start: A common issue we see is that some websites contain text that is hardcoded, or that sits within graphics or forms, and is therefore not included in the content export file. For websites in particular, it’s important that your translation partner is aware of the benefits of “roundtripping” your content before the project starts. This means taking the content export and simulating the translation process, also known as a pseudotranslation. The simulated translated content is then reimported back into your CMS so you can check all the content was captured in the export. Any missed content can then be easily identified at this stage. If this process is skipped, areas of your website can be left untranslated, causing delays to launch and unforeseen costs.
  • In-Situ Review: Once every page and every character has been translated and the files have been imported back into the CMS, it’s time to check that the content looks correct before you publish. This is an important stage where the linguist teams do a final pass of the site on a staging server to make sure the look and feel is appropriate in terms of user experience. This means visual checks for suitability for market preferences, as well as formatting checks for the new languages.

Brand identity

A key factor in international success is ensuring that your translated content also replicates your brand values across all markets. The linguists working on your content should understand where to adapt the content for your target audience, and where to stick more closely to the original message. Some brand values such as humour don’t translate well across cultures, and messaging needs to be adapted. Ensuring your brand is seamlessly transposed across your target markets is key to getting better results through better engagement that in turn maximises conversions.

Optimisation

Making sure your website can be found by your new target customers means optimising your site for search.

  • Keywords: Simply translating your keywords into your target language doesn’t work as well as doing the research directly in the target language. This is because translated keywords are unlikely to be the keywords with the highest search volumes for your markets, plus there may be a different number of keywords available to target in each market that you would miss out on otherwise.
  • Off page SEO: Congratulations! Your new, localised website is live. Now you can sit back and watch your website perform, right? Not quite. If you really want to boost your site’s visibility for new target market customers, it’s worth also investing in an international backlink strategy for each market. This means obtaining links from other reputable websites in your target market which helps Google see your site as more trustworthy, thus giving your site a boost in the search results pages.

Summary

  • Find a translation partner early on who can help with planning and identifying the markets that will help you hit your performance goals.
  • Review your CMS setup to make sure it’s set up in the optimum way to ensure a smooth workflow.
  • Think about including a budget for ongoing digital marketing activities to give your localised site the best chance of performing in your new markets.

Contact ALM to find out how we can help you succeed in international markets today!

 

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