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If you’re already doing business in countries were English isn’t the primary language, you’ve likely created sales and advertising materials in that country’s preferred language.

But have you adapted your website as well?

Sure, English may be the most common spoken language in business, but providing a web experience in the prospective customer’s native language could make the difference between someone clicking away and someone engaging.

Where to start? Here are a few tips for creating localized, non-English versions of your website.

  1. Determine your audience, and consider its geography and culture.
  2. Determine which content needs translation. Typical items include content needed to browse the site, use the products or buy. There may occasionally be a need to translate a job opportunity or press release – but only if it is of relevance to your target audience.
  3. Once the translation is done, take a hard look at the final product. Some languages require more words to express a thought – something you’ve no doubt noticed while watching a foreign movie with English subtitles – and as a result, may impact the placement of logos, photos and artwork.
  4. Are the images you’ve chosen sensitive to the culture of your target audience?
  5. If there’s a drop-down menu offering language options for your website, how are the languages presented? (Here’s a hint: Don’t use the English words for foreign languages.)
  6. Have you localized such functional elements as fields for addresses and phone numbers, measurements, currencies and dates?
  7. Is your content written in the best possible way to appeal to your target audience? A word-for-word direct translation is not always the best path forward, so be sure to ask your language translator for suggestions and guidance.
  8. Is your SEO ready to compete in international markets and on local search engines? And, if your target audience is in a country that speaks English, have you taken local speech patterns into account? For example, people in the UK refer to the car’s “boot,” not “trunk”, and the person Americans call “doctor” is “surgeon” across the pond.

So, how do you avoid these potentially costly mistakes?

The most important is the first step: when you contract with a company to translate your website, be sure to opt for one of the more expensive options: human translation (HT) or Machine Translation with Human Post-Editing (MTHP)e-followed-by-human option. Yes, it will cost a bit more, but avoiding this service is a classic example of penny wise and pound foolish. If you spend money to translate your website, you want to be sure that it will attract new clients in your target audiences; otherwise, what’s the point?

The second step is to ask someone well versed in the language and culture to review the translated site before it goes live, so that you can avoid the possibility of offending.

And third, when you update your English-language site, don’t forget to update the foreign-language sites as well!

Metafraze specializes in providing the right translation solution for you, customized with the quality and cost savings for your specific needs.

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