5 Tips to Successfully Translate Your Website


As more and more companies feel the need to expand internationally to stay competitive, the question isn’t if you should translate your website, but when. With global online sales surpassing $1 trillion in 2013 (eMarketer, 2012), companies are missing out if they are limiting their audience to one language group. Nevertheless, translating an entire website requires a fair amount of linguistic and technical skill, not to mention a good dose of common sense.

Now that summer’s over, it’s time to get out of vacation-mode and start thinking about how you’re going to expand globally. TextMaster has 5 tips to help you get started:

1.    Choose your domain name carefully

If you already know ahead of time that your site will be multilingual, choose a domain name that will be relevant and easy to remember in as many languages as possible. As a general rule, it’s best to pick a URL in English, as most people have at least a basic understanding of it.

2. Think about Search Engine Optimization

SEO is a fairly complex topic on its own, but when your site is multilingual, you’re throwing a lot of other variables into the mix. Depending on your how much time and resources you have, you can choose from one of these three SEO domain strategies:
–    one subfolder per language (mydomain.com/en)
–    one subdomain per language (en.mydomain.com)
–    one top-level domain extension per language (mydomain.com and mydomain.us)

Google prefers the last option, as this allows it to provide relevant results to a specific audience, based on the language and country detected.

3.    Avoid automatic (machine) translations

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a magic translation button? Even though there are plenty of sophisticated programs and APIs, machine translation is far from perfect (Visit our Facebook page for funny examples of shockingly bad translations). Not only do translation mistakes hurt your brand, but they also lower your search engine results. That’s why professional human translation is always the smarter and safer way to go.

4.    Take into account the cultural context

Translation is more than just transferring words from one language to another; it’s also about incorporating cultural nuances into the text. That’s why common words or expressions can have completely different meanings in another language or culture. This can lead to simple misunderstandings or really unpleasant situations for the company.

5.    Choose your languages carefully

Being a fan of Italian or Portuguese is not a good enough reason to undertake an entire translation project of your website. You need to put aside your personal preferences and think about your target audience, including both current and potential customers. When expanding to a new country, keep in mind that it could have two or three official languages. Take Belgium for example – a company that wants to capture the entire market needs to make sure that their website is in both in French and Flemish.

What do you think? Are there any other tips that you would add to this list?

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Have a great week!

The TextMaster Team

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