Website translations are an important aspect of our work. Multilingual websites are becoming more common as companies look to reach a global audience. Contrary to common belief, English is not the most spoken language in the world. Its actually spoken as a first language by only around 5% of the world’s population.

This means that effective communication needs to be in the local language(s) if you want to reach an international audience.

So what languages should you translate into?

We are often asked this question, and the simple answer is “it depends”. For example, the most spoken first language is Chinese. So should you have your website in Simplified Chinese? Well only if you are targeting the People’s Republic of China! For Hong Kong and Taiwan you would need Traditional Chinese. In other parts of the world there are significant Chinese communities, although Chinese is normally a minority language. So its a “yes” for Chinese if you are targeting China or Taiwan. Do remember however that there are two different written forms.

Many companies have a vague notion that they want to sell internationally. They often see a multilingual website as the answer. However, you also need to think through many other issues. For example, which countries can I sell my product or service in? There may well be logistical issues with trying to serve a market in another part of the world. Could you field enquiries by email and phone in Chinese? What about the time difference? Can you process orders and enquiries overnight if you are based in the UK?

A few tips for website translations:

1) Less is more with website translations:

Its a good idea to put time and resource into a few markets. Trying to target the whole world simultaneously, is a tall order. That is of course unless you really do have a unique product and are the size of Coca-Cola!

2) Careful market research and planning

Careful market research, and a planned approach are likely to pay dividends. There are lots of online resources to give you basic country information, for example Wikipedia and the CIA website, the CIA world fact book, is extremely useful with a lot of country data. In the UK there are resources like UKTI, the Government funded body with a remit to help develop international trade. They have Trade Officers both in the UK and in UK Embassies around the world.

3) Start with a few landing pages and build content over time:

Why not start with a few well written landing pages for your chosen language(s)? Essentially with translation you are paying by word, (and therefore amount of work for the translators). Double the content will be double the price (all things being equal). Similarly translation into 10 languages is likely to be around 10 times the cost of translating into one. If you dump 800 new pages into the Google index, it will probably be flagged as spam.  Better to build content over a period of time, this is both good SEO, and helps with budgeting.

Talk to us

If you are planning to internationalise your website, we are happy to talk to you. Give us a call on +44 115 9788980 or use our contact form to get in touch.