Website owners want to translate a website to attract more buyers from other markets and tell them about their product or service. That’s why they should provide the site visitors with accurately translated information.
Rude discrepancies, misspellings, inaccurate terms, incoherent sentences will evoke negative impressions and bring negative results. So, machine translation isn’t perfect and thus insufficient. Even though translation programs are fast and have higher performance, their work should be corrected by human professionals. Therefore, it is better to complete the task without online tools.
However, if you think that to translate the site content without errors is enough, you are mistaken. There are at least three major reasons for that:
- The site should be localized, not just translated, because the website visitors from different countries must understand the content properly.
- The site should be indexed for search, so keyword research in the target language is important. If the website does not contain keywords in the target language, users will never find it in Google search results.
- Website content should be unique to avoid penalties.
The guide provides tips on how to translate a website with deep expertise in the website localization industry.
How To Translate A Website
1. What Is Website Localization?
2. Localization Strategy
3. Prepare Website Content For Translation
4. How To Develop A Keyword Strategy
5. How To Do Keyword Research
6. How to Avoid Duplicate Content Penalty For Localized Websites
7. How To Develop A Site Structure Strategy
8. Website Localization Best Practices
What Is Website Localization?
The site content should be tailored to the needs of the readers in each particular country. That means it should be clear and relevant for the target area. Thus, while everyone is aware of IKEA or Amazon, some local entities require additional descriptions or explanations, this is how localization works in online business.
An efficient start is to peep into what your market competitors usually do in that field, how they adapt their product presentation to customers from the target markets. The basic thing is to make the product or service interesting and easy to understand for potential clients. So the more useful information they will be able to find on the site, the better.
This will spare time for customer support. Even though you can easily translate the queries with translation tools to get the idea, never send machine-translated replies. So, expect questions from new countries and hire a professional to translate the answers.
Make sure that your website content won’t sound confusing, perplexing, or rude in the target language. Therefore use the service of human translators with proficient language skills and seek a native speaker’s advice whenever possible.
Logos require particular attention in this regard. Examples of inappropriate ambiguity and misuse include Nothing Sucks Like an Electrolux by the renowned Scandinavian brand in the U.S. market or the failure of Blue Water in Ukraine since it sounds very similar to ‘puke’. Another unsuccessful instance was the attempt of General Motors to expand in Latin America with their Chevrolet Nova while ‘no va’ means ‘can’t move’ in Spanish.
The best solution for this situation is to test the translation and rebrand or paraphrase the slogan if necessary. Thus, the Coca Cola Company could not use their exact brand name in China as it translates to ‘bite a wax tadpole’ in Chinese. They checked several thousand variants, finally excelling with Kekoukele representing their trademark and sounding perfect for a Chinese ear. It means ‘happiness in the mouth, tasty fun’.
When it comes to logos and website localization, it is brilliant to use:
- pun (a play on words).
Prepare Website Content For Translation
Generally speaking, there are four ways to prepare the website content for translation. What to choose depends on your requirements, technical issues, budget and, of course, translator’s skills:
- The easiest way to work with translated files is to have them paired in a table with two columns for the source and target language. You will be able to quickly find what you need; it is also helpful for those who have no command of the other language. It is also convenient to create a Google Doc or Spreadsheet. In this way, you can share a link with other members of the project and work at the file simultaneously.
- If you are going to localize your website with the desktop translation software like SDL Trados, it is necessary to provide a translator with a series of HTML pages, or, with XML.
- If the website is going to be translated with cloud-based translation tools like Smartling or Smartcat, you can upload all kinds of localization formats, including JSON, PO/POT, XML, YAML, etc.
- If your website is created on the WordPress platform, you can implement the localization directly on this platform using different translation plug-ins.
How To Develop A Keyword Strategy
People speaking different languages have different mentalities and cultures. For example, Russian-speaking users residing in the United Kingdom search for hotels using keyword in Russian “отель”, while Russian-speaking users in Russia use “гостиница”. In other words, the way people put their search needs into words is not the same everywhere.
To translate keywords to a target language is wrong. Their list should be compiled by professional website translators with skills and knowledge in SEO.
To get the best organic traffic to your translated website, you have to understand the basic terms in keyword research:
- Keyword Difficulty estimates how difficult it will be to rank in the top 10 organic search results for a certain keyword in a particular location. The higher the score, the more difficult it will be to compete. Thus, always choose the keywords with the less keyword difficulty score
- Search Volume refers to the average monthly number of searches for the keyword in the selected country. The higher the volume, the better.
- Clicks metric represents the average monthly number of clicks on the search results that people make while searching for the target keyword. If the number of clicks is higher than the search volume, it means that users are not satisfied with the Google search results, and your website content has got chances to be in the top.
It is always very important to identify the business location, since the keyword difficulty, search volume and the number of clicks could be different for each country.
Let’s go deeper with the example of the hotel website translation. The international hotel chain “A” decided to open a new hotel in the Russian Federation and localize the website content to attract more Russian-speaking visitors residing in Russia and to meet the target market requirements.
According to dictionaries, “hotel” could be translated as “отель” and “гостиница”. But since website translators localize keywords rather than translate them, it is better to check them with special SEO tools. Being a professional Russian translator for nearly 20 years with the main specialization in website translation, I always use Ahrefs SEO tool for keywords localization:
The choice for the keyword “гостиница” is obvious, since it has got the lowest keyword difficulty and the highest search volume per month if to compare with “отель”. Therefore, the owner of the hotel website will get more traffic if to choose “гостиница” as a keyword for the website translated into Russian for the audience living in the Russian Federation.
How To Do Keyword Research
Basically, keywords research for website translation and localization involves three main stages:
- Identifying seed keywords.
- Generating keyword ideas.
- Understanding keyword metrics and choosing the best keywords.
A seed list is the baseline keywords and phrases most relevant to the business of the website. It includes terms directly associated with products or services that are offered on the website. As soon as the list of seed keywords is identified, it is necessary to go further in order to understand what people are searching for in a particular niche.
The best way to do the search is with the help of Ahrefs tool. With this tool, you can find the keywords with the lowest keyword difficulty, highest search volume and more click metrics. The main Ahrefs features allow you to find the best keyword ideas in the following categories: Phrase match, Having same terms, Also rank for, Search suggestions, Newly discovered, Questions.
Within each category, you can sort the list of keywords according to keyword difficulty, search volume, number of clicks, etc.
As soon as the list of keywords for website localization is ready, it is always better to get approval from the customer before you start translating the website.
How to Avoid Duplicate Content Penalty For Localized Websites
Unique content is ultimately important. You should avoid plagiarism not to get penalties for duplicate content and violation of copyrights. The best and the most reliable answer to the question of how to do it properly is to entrust it to a qualified and experienced specialist equipped with excellent language and SEO skills as well as highly aware of the topic.
SEO-oriented human translation will bring you more chances for success. Each website translator contributes their style and uses keywords in different contexts.
How To Develop A Site Structure Strategy
Help your target audience find your site easier with gTLD (Generic Top-Level Domain) or ccTLD (Country-Code Top-Level Domain).
Let’s consider the main benefits the strategy can bring you:
- gTLD enables you to additionally mark the users’ language employing Google Search Console like com/fr, org/de, net/in, provided you place the site language versions in different subfolders. The site visitor will be able to view the pages in their preferred language and to read the URL in it as well;
- ccTLD suggests that your site is designed for a particular area, for example, com.ua operates in Ukraine, .ru is intended for the Russian Federation. This method has its pros and contras. Your site has more chances to rank top in a certain country, yet each new domain will require additional financial investments.
In the first case, you target the language speakers, and in the second one – the specific country. Regarding expenses, the first approach is more cost-effective.
Website Localization Best Practices
To summarize, let’s highlight the key milestones for perfect translation and localization experience.
1. Do not merely translate, localize – consider the country and language specifics.
2. Deploy keyword research: it makes your site SERP-friendly. Follow the guidelines of SEO specialists.
3. Use high volume keywords with desirably low competition.
4. Adjust the text according to keywords in the target language.
5. Think of a proper site strategy.
6. Pay attention to logos. Make them sound logical, coherent, easy-to-remember; avoid ambiguity.
7. Verify the efficiency by testing and consulting a native speaker.
8. Hire a professional translator, don’t overuse machine translation.
9. Remember: translation memory of automated translation tools saves time and efforts but it won’t produce unique content.
10. Restrain from plagiarism to prevent penalties.