Content is one of the most effective ways to turn a mildly interested prospect into an enthusiastic customer. When you provide informative, educational articles that emotionally compel your audience and make them feel understood, you know you’ve got engaging content that truly works.
But it’s a different matter entirely when they can’t understand the language your content is in.
It’s no secret that English is the most popular language for online content, taking up almost 59% of all websites. But you may be surprised to find that Russian is the second most popular language at 5.3%, with Spanish following at 4.3%. These numbers may seem small…until you realize that 40% of people won’t even buy from a business if their website isn’t available in their native language.
That’s one of the many reasons content translation is crucial. If you want to expand your reach to foreign audiences, they’ll need to understand what you’re offering. Though a bulk of them probably speak English, it’s important to note that 65% still prefer content in their language, even if it’s in poor quality. So the best way to convince them to buy from you is to, quite literally, speak their language.
What is content translation?
Content translation, also known as marketing translation, is much more than simply converting the text into another language. It’s attuning your content to a specific audience that speaks a different language or is located in another geographical area. That means retaining the intended effect it had in your original language, then ensuring it continues to compel your foreign audiences in their respective languages.
With that said, content translation must be part of your international marketing strategy. After all, your goal is to reproduce your impact in your original markets across your new target markets.
But that doesn’t mean you can approach it haphazardly. Doing content translation the right way will set you up for success and ensure that your target audience knows just how valuable your business is to what they’re looking for.
Why is content translation important?
When 72.1% of consumers spend most of their time on websites in their own language, that’s a good sign to invest in content translation services—especially if you’re an e-commerce business. The more users can understand your website in their native language, the higher the chance they’ll engage with you—and ultimately convert.
Content translation is part of your content marketing initiatives. It’s a reliable way of connecting with your target audience and ensuring that they know what you offer.
There’s much more that goes into drawing customers to your business—and keeping them—than great offers and attractive websites. You want them to stick around even after they marvel at your website design or purchase from you. The best way to do this? Through quality content.
After all, content is what tells your target market that you’re an authority in your field, that you’re trustworthy, and you have a high-quality product or service that exactly meets their needs. Content is what will keep them coming back for more, even if they may not need your product.
Another reason content translation is beneficial is because you’ll be making your content much more accessible. By having it available in your target audience’s native languages, you’ll immediately expand your reach. When users don’t have to think so hard about what they’re reading—even if the translation isn’t completely accurate—they’re more likely to engage with you.
Of course, when more people engage with you, that increases the likelihood of purchasing from you or converting into a full-fledged customer. With effective marketing messages in languages they understand, your users will be more likely to take action. Your content is more powerful than you think.
By investing in content translation, you’ll also benefit from international SEO. Search engines will boost your content, algorithms will amplify your social media reach, and your growing presence means your customers will refer you to their network. And what beats word-of-mouth marketing?
Key considerations of content translation
The mere act of translating your content won’t bring you immediate results; you’ll still need to make sure that you’ve optimized your website’s messages and user experience. But if you’re confident about these two things, you’ll no doubt attract more customers—and convince them to stay.
Here are some things to keep in mind to ensure your content translation project is a massive success:
Outline priorities and objectives
First, draw the big picture: what results do you want to see by translating your content into different languages? What are your translation needs? What are your target languages? It’s difficult to get a jump start on things when you aren’t sure why you’re doing them in the first place!
Then, to make this big undertaking more feasible, slice them into more digestible chunks, like quarterly goals. Review the high-traffic content you’ll need to translate to move closer towards your desired objective.
One criterion to consider is choosing between cost and reward. It might not make sense to translate every single page on your website right away, so choose which portions to translate and see the results from there.
A quick way to do this is to determine which content to prioritize, like your highest-performing articles, main pages, and highest-converting landing pages. If you’re not sure on what these are, be sure to conduct some tests first. Alternatively, check the performance of each page and article through Google Analytics. You’ll quickly find out who your new markets are.
Establish your process and team
Once you’ve figured out the content to translate, the next step is to outline the actual translation process and the team responsible for overseeing it. You can choose between three methods: human translation, which will be done by professionals; machine translation, done purely by neural machine translation tools like Google Translate and DeepL, or a mix of both.
If your website is decked out with blog articles, landing pages, support documentation, and many other kinds of pages, the whole process can seem completely daunting.
Then, you’ll have to figure out your timelines. How soon do you want your content to go live? Do you want to stagger them or release it all at once?
The good news is that a website translation solution like Weglot automatically detects, scans, then translate all your website content for you—even dynamic content. Companies like Polaar have saved more than 100 hours in translation alone just by using Weglot!
Understand your target markets
Identifying your target audience and recognizing what they need is a vital part of the content translation process. It’s not enough to simply translate the content you’ve produced in your original language; each audience in any country has different standards for what they deem interesting and useful.
One way to do this is to use data. What does market research say about your target audience? Do you have contacts or people on the ground who could give you valuable insight into what your prospective audience would want? What are they interested in?
When you’ve gathered enough information, use it to modify or adjust your translated content, which is another crucial process called localization. Spoiler alert: you’ll need both to effectively reach your international users!
Account for international SEO
There may be an obvious need for your product or service in your home market. But it would be unwise to assume the same across the board—otherwise, you wouldn’t be selling to anyone.
People use different keywords in different countries—even when they speak the same language. For instance, users in the UK would use “trousers” to search for what users in the US would call “pants”. You can quickly see how not localizing can cause you to go viral for the wrong reasons.
That’s why it’s necessary to do some keyword research. Though translating your keywords can work in some occasions, it’s not something you should rely on 100% of the time. That way, you play into exactly what people are looking for and ensure your content comes up first.
Adapt your website for multilingual design
Another important consideration to make when translating your content is to optimize your website so that it accommodates multilingual design.
What do we mean by this? Well, for starters, there’s something called text expansion and contraction. Written languages have different lengths; for instance, the English word “shell” would be “coquillage” in French, containing twice as many letters. On the other hand, languages like Chinese and Japanese use much fewer characters to convey the same word. That’ll significantly affect how your content fits into your website layout!
Not only that, but you’ll also have to account for right-to-left languages, like Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, and Urdu. Without integrating multilingual design into your website, converting left-to-right text into right-to-left would render your design clunky and inelegant.
With that said, it’s a good idea to ensure your website is set up to automatically accommodate different languages. That way, it’ll seamlessly switch between languages and retain its original, attractive design and appeal to your global audience.
Find software that’s compatible with both your content translation efforts and your CMS
There’s no need to start from scratch and create a whole new workflow just to oversee your content translations—that will only add unnecessary delays. Technology is supposed to remove the friction in your processes—not add to them!
Instead, use a website translation solution that works with whatever CMS or CRM you’re already using. The right translation software to use will make it easy to manage your translations and keep consistent terminology.
What not to do with content translation
Content translation is pretty straightforward. But there are still a lot of things to keep in mind so that you get it right the first time. Here are some things to avoid when translating your content:
- Using the wrong tools: The goal is to use something that streamlines the process and makes content translation more accessible and efficient. The wrong tools—like software that doesn’t already work with your existing CMS—will significantly delay your process, interrupting your workflow, and cause your project to fail.
- Relying on poor quality translations: Although we mentioned earlier that people would rather read content in their native language, even at the cost of quality and accuracy, not making an effort to offer well-translated, quality content will tell your new audience you don’t care about them or their needs..
- Proceeding without a solid localization strategy in place: Translation and localization go hand in hand when trying to reach a new audience. Having one without the other would be a waste of time.
- Not having clear goals: Objectives are there to guide you, particularly when you’re confused about what to do next. Going about content translation aimlessly will hurt the quality of your translated website, and in turn, your reputation with your new audience.
How Weglot simplifies content translation
Staying on top of the different stages of content translation can be complicated. But the good news is that Weglot, a website translation solution, can simplify most of the process for you.
For starters, it’s compatible with all content management systems—you won’t have to start from scratch or find a different service provider with your new content translation project.
Since Weglot automatically detects, scans, then translates your content for you, there’s hardly any manual work involved in the process. No need to worry about content types—it even translates dynamic content!
After it supplies a first layer of machine translation, you can then use Weglot’s Dashboard to review the translations and make edits as you see fit. Its translation management system is simple and intuitive, with basically no learning curve.
It also remembers the manual translations you make and applies them all throughout your website. If there are some words you don’t want translated, you can easily exclude them from your translation list.
Even better, you can edit your translations in-context with Weglot’s Visual Editor. It allows you to make direct changes into a live preview of your website, eliminating the need to dig through code.
You can also add multiple team members onto your project—marketing managers, in-house or outsourced translators, you name it—so that they could review the output and fine-tune it according to your localization strategy. If you want professional translations done, you can place an order straight from your dashboard. You’ll get your translations in 2 business days!
Plus, Weglot automatically takes care of indispensable aspects of multilingual SEO for you. It instantly adds hreflang attributes to each translated version of your website, signalling to search engines which one to show to a specific audience based on their location or even browser settings. Curious to see it in action? Explore how it works through a 10-day free trial.
Leveraging the potential of content translation
Content translation can be a tedious task when you don’t know where to begin. But by understanding its benefits, establishing your goals, setting a clear strategy, and using the right translation tools, having multilingual content will help turn you from a local hero into an international superstar.