Adapting your website’s content for different audiences may be some of the best and most frustrating work you will do. While expanding your target audience and aiming for bigger reach is always welcome for any company or brand, you should also learn the difference between translating a site and localizing it.
Just because your website and content function well in English (or your native language) it doesn’t mean that the same will apply for German, Italian, Greek, or other languages. How can you translate, localize and adapt your content in order to make your website better?
Translation and/or localization
You might have noticed that translation and localization was used both with “or” and “and” in the previous paragraph. That’s because you can combine or separate these two aspects of site optimization based on what you actually need.
- If you need to translate your site without any technical jargon (let’s say, a travel blog), you can comfortably localize it into another language and not blink an eye.
- Translation on the other hand requires help from an expert translator with technical knowledge on the subjects you talk about on your site.
Combining both of these aspects of site optimization and coupling them with SEO is the most popular opinion of many websites. Make this decision based on the traffic and reach you make with your content as well as taking into consideration the nature of your site (whether it’s a blog, an e-commerce site or something else).
Don’t use automated translation software
It’s easy to see why some site administrators would go to Google Translate and ask for translations, but this is a wrong thing to do for many reasons. For one, automated algorithms can never understand context of certain sentences, slang words used sarcastically or localize speech patterns correctly.
In other words, automated software can’t think like a human being, which is why professional translators are necessary for the task. If you are low on budget, you can use automated translation to a certain degree and ask a translator to take a second look and fix any glaring mistakes they might find.
Smart language targeting
Knowing which languages are trending with your readers is an important part of choosing which territories to expand to. Translating your site into Japanese or French and knowing that a very small number of your readers would even take a look at it is a waste of time and effort. Choose languages based on global internet popularity and compare those statistics with your niche numbers in order to find a balance.
Creating a multi-site network
Some of the largest corporations in the world decide to use fully-localized websites for their needs. This requires a multi-site network of translated sites with different domains in different countries.
For example, if you have a website with English and German localization, you need to secure domains in “.US” and “.DE” if you want to fully cater to your local audiences. This is a more expensive option that only large international corporations should consider since it involves maintaining and operating mirror sites located on different domain names.
Using CMS for localization
Managing a multi-language website and updating content manually can get tedious and distracting in the long run. Running a Content Management System (or CMS for short) on your site will allow you to automatically allocate translated files to different website languages.
CMS also allows you to flexibly edit any content that you might need to change after it was published. And while it is easy to translate websites yourself given the knowledge of certain languages, here are some website translation services that you may want to consider.
Localized SEO keywords
If you want to rank your site as highly as possible, you need to implement localized keywords into your content. Depending on the languages you decided to use, Google Adwords can help you determine which keywords to implement in order to optimize the content properly.
This is also one of the differences between a clear-cut translation and a localization effort on the owner’s part. Translating the site roughly just to get it over with will do you more harm than good, while using language-specific keywords always works in your favor.
Ease the language transition
Many popular WordPress themes offer very clear ways to change the interface language a user is seeing. This is an important feature if you want to host a plethora of different languages on your site. Giving people an understandable and fast way to change languages on the site will work in your favor and make sure that people can back for more content over and over. This is a fundamental part of designing good user experience interface.
Localize pictures and multimedia
It might be difficult for you to create new content for every language featured on your website. That is why localizing existing content is always a good option to lean on. Editing pictures and putting different writings on them depending on the current language selection is an important part of site localization.
Adding captions or voiceovers on your featured videos might also be a good idea if your site is heavy on videos or audio content. Localizing multimedia content is more straightforward since it doesn’t require any keyword implementation, but it does help your site ranking much more than you think.
Prepare for constant revisions
One of the worst aspects of maintaining a multi-language site is the fact that revisions are hard to pull off and frequent in nature. Information will change, including dates, locations, as well as critical info that your readers absolutely need.
Providing proper maintenance is possible through specialized marketing personnel that can keep an eye on your site constantly. This can include a writer, a translator, a web designer and a marketing research expert. While the team roster is very flexible, you should be clear on the need for your site to be prepared for immediate and constant revisions as soon as the needs arise.
Website translation and localization is a noble effort no matter the niche you operate in. People all over the world will be more than grateful to you for providing localized content that they can enjoy even though they don’t speak your language. Make sure that you choose your target languages wisely and always look for ways to expand the selection of languages in order to make the most global impact possible.