Website translation is a big part of our work. Like many sectors, we are seeing a move away from print media. There is a move towards online marketing. This means we are translating website content on a much greater scale than a few years ago.

Translating your website is an obvious way to promote your business overseas. However, like any area of marketing, there are possible traps.

Branding and international search marketing

Brand image is key in online marketing. A badly translated site will undermine your brand. It is therefore vital to select the best translators. Before even thinking about translation you should first review your web content. You need to decide what you want to get out of the project.

If you are aiming at current customers, then international web marketing isn’t important. This is because they will access the site irrespective of good search performance. However, if you want new customers in your target market, then compelling content is key. Your site also needs good design and architecture. You may well need a separate domain with in-country hosting.

Translating website content – don’t ignore off page content

It is easy to forget “off page” content when translating web content. Ignore this at your peril. Things like error messages, any pop-up information, title tags, keywords, page descriptions, etc. all need attention. If you leave them in the source language, you give a really bad user experience. Search engine spiders will view duplicated off page aspects as duplicate content. It will therefore hurt you in search.

Relevant information for your international audience

Another common mistake is not review your content for relevance to your international audience. If you take our website as an example, we have a “translation Nottingham” page. The reason for this is that we are targetting local Nottingham search.

This has limited relevance for an international audience however. We could provide much more useful content. For example, on our Belgian site, we could provide a Brussels page, aimed at a Brussels local audience. We could also offer services specific to the country, such as translation between the two main languages of Flemish and French.

Localisation issues

It is also important to localise your message. This is very much about understanding your audience. You then provide engaging and appropriate content, just like you would a local audience. Common mistakes are things like phone numbers in a national format, rather than international, or using local case studies and examples, which an international audience may not find relevant.

Technical and marketing elements

Different types of translation need different translation skills. Web content often includes both technical and marketing elements, for example. It is important that we reflect both aspects accurately.

Sometimes different parts of a website may need translators with different specialisms. Your marketing team  probably write your marketing content. Similarly, your lawyers or in-house legal team, probably write your terms and conditions. Our translation team similarly need different expertise. Legal translation skills for your Ts and Cs, and marketing expertise for marketing texts.

Some sites may in effect require technical authoring in the target language. A highly specialist and technical site, needs translators who familiar with the specialist terminology, in both languages. We mainly use in-country translators. This includes most of our work translating website content.

Conclusion and next steps

This article is only intended as a brief overview of a complex subject. Contact us to discuss any aspect of website translation.