Website Translation | Translate Websites Quickly
Any business with a website can be a global brand, yet very few are actually connecting with a global audience. Instead of pursuing a website translation strategy that caters to various languages, customs, and cultures, most companies are still offering a one-size-fits all customer experience.
This static approach exposes brands to several unfortunate scenarios:
- Opportunities Are Missed. Potential customers cannot access company information in their local language and choose not interact with the brand at all.
- Messaging Is Misinterpreted. Potential customers who do want to interact with the brand choose to use Google Translate or similar free services. The resulting translation provides a poor user experience at best, and inaccurate information at worst.
- Competitors Win. Potential customers choose to do business with a competitor (foreign or domestic) that localized its website to create a superior customer experience.
Now that we know the negative outcomes to avoid, let’s review the positive results that can be achieved through professional website translation.
Website Translation as a Competitive Advantage
Translating and localizing a website is a significant strategic investment that requires a clear business case. ROI may come from many sources, but the most common advantages include:
- Better user experience. Every customer appreciates being spoken to in their native language. According to one European Commission study, 9 out of 10 Internet users alwayschoose to navigate websites in their native language when presented with multiple language options.
- Greater online reach. Translating websites into a new language immediately opens your content up to potentially millions (or billions) of people who formerly could not understand it.
- Increased sales. Personalization is the new expectation in online commerce. When entering a foreign market, translating websites for the local audience is a powerful first step toward building profitable customer connections.
- Improved SEO. When brands create relevant, rewarding user experiences, search engines take notice. Rankings increase, customer awareness expands, and a virtuous cycle continues.
Diagnosing Your Website Translation Needs
The business case for website translation is easy to see, but growing businesses still have to allocate their resources and prioritize their initiatives intelligently. To determine the urgency of the initiative, consider the following questions:
- How strong is consumer demand? Sometimes, eager audiences identify themselves by flooding your website with foreign traffic. Other times, it may be wise to bet on the potential interest hidden in an emerging market. In either case, the speed and priority with which you address new audiences needs to be a data-based decision.
- How strong is the competition? Stagnant or shrinking market share in a foreign market could be a signal that it’s time to translate content for the local audience. Likewise, opportunities to aggressively increase market share in a valuable territory can also be justification for fast-tracking translation.
- How essential is the website to your business model? If customer engagement and revenue generation occur primarily (or exclusively) through your website, the need for — and rewards of — website translation will be significantly increased.
Preparing to Translate Your Website
No two website translation projects look exactly alike. Site content varies by scope, format, style, storage location, commercial value, and a host of other factors. Additionally, human translators and digital resources can combine in a wide array configurations to complete the work.
In order to eliminate confusion and increase efficiency, address the following questions upfront:
- Which content deserves priority? Don’t assume every word on your website needs to be translated for every audience — or that translation has to happen all at once. Instead, start by identifying the content most crucial to the customer journey and most valuable to business goals.
- Where does that content live? Corporate website content is often hosted across a combination of various content management, marketing automation, and eCommerce enablement platforms. Make sure you have a clear picture of your publishing ecosystem before translation begins.
- Who will complete the translation? Bilingual coworkers, freelance translators, or language service providers (LSPs) can all serve as suitable translation resources depending on the scenario. However, processes must be aligned to their strengths.
- Who else may be involved in the localization process? International SEO experts and local branding consultants can further optimize website translation efforts. But be sure to build time into publishing schedules if you choose to include these external partners in your workflow.
- How can translation efficiency be increased? At a certain point, workflows cannot be simplified any further and teammates cannot be asked to work any harder. That’s when more and more companies realize that implementing translation management software is the smartest way to keep their growth strategies on course.
Calculating the Cost of Website Translation
Confirming the total cost of website translation is more complex than merely multiplying a word count by a per-word translation price. The full financial projection needs to account for:
- Staffing costs. The talent required to manage and execute website translation projects is traditionally the largest cost category. Aside from translators and project managers, companies that elect not to implement translation management software will also have to recruit IT resources to manually orchestrate all the underlying technologies.
- Hosting costs. The expense associated with hosting and maintaining localized websites will be fairly modest when your global footprint is relatively small. As your brand expands to incorporate additional countries and languages, however, hosting costs may multiply to 10 or 20 times your current rates.
- Translation costs. The cost of the actual translation varies significantly depending on a number of factors, but the basic benchmark to remember is 10 to 20 cents per word. Costs may increase when complex content such as legal policy is translated, or when rare and complex languages are targeted. Alternatively, costs may decrease when machine translation and translation memory are leveraged strategically.
Reducing Website Translation Costs
There are four main ways companies can save money on website translation. Each approach incorporates technology, but not necessarily in the way you might expect.
- Use a translation proxy. A proxy solution is a cloud-based utility that sits in front of your website, responding in real-time to deliver users a localized version upon request. Instead of adapting your infrastructure to support several new website versions, you can automatically pull and present all of your translated web pages from a centralized hosting location in the cloud.
- Tap into APIs. If you do have a robust infrastructure capable of supporting several localized sites and their associated business processes, a translation API might be your best bet. This allows your team to easily push and pull content into and out of your translation management platform using familiar tools from their existing workflows.
- Plug into your CMS. The best translation management tools are close friends with content management systems. Instead of copying and pasting years worth of technical support tips from Zendesk or thousands of product descriptions from Sitecore, automatically ingesting content for translations eliminates all the headaches and a significant amount of the cost.
- Leverage translation memory. Eliminating redundant work may ultimately be the most impactful way to trim translation expenses. Translation memory enables this efficiency by maintaining a dynamic database of previously translated terms that translators can apply toward future text strings. This single innovation can help companies cut anywhere from 40% to 80% of their translation costs, depending on how much overlapping content they produce.
Solving Common Website Translation Challenges
With so many moving parts to account for, even the most meticulous website translation plans may encounter unexpected challenges along the way. Here are a few of the most frequent issues companies face:
|Translation Challenges||How Smartling Solves Them|
|Speed||Content changes are gathered manually, delaying translation and delivery||Changes in content are detected as they happen|
|Website translation takes months or years of developer time||The Global Delivery Network eliminates the need to recode your website|
|Quality||A lack of available context results in embarrassing translation mistakes||Translators see source text in the exact context it appears on your web page|
|Translation review processes are limited by a lack of modern tools||All collaborators have access to the same easy-to-use quality control resources|
|Direct Cost||Lack of centralization means translated website content is rarely repurposed||A centralized translation memory database allows for effective, proper reuse of prior translations|
|Budget constraints will not allow you to translate websites into as many languages as you would like||The Global Delivery Network removes the bulk of the cost of internationalizing your code|
|Opportunity Cost||Translating websites diverts IT attention away from developer roadmaps||IT requirements are minimized by intelligent integration and process automation|
|Vendor Lock-in||Most translation software vendors require you to use their translator network||You have the freedom to select the translation or localization services that best meet your needs|
Smartling Client Success Stories
GoPro launched six translated websites in less than three weeks, NiceLabel increased its website leads by 45%, and SurveyMonkey recouped its initial investment almost immediately.
With the right translation technology, you can reduce the overhead required to translate websites and maintain them. You can also speed up the process of translating websites, reduce your costs, and avoid translation errors.
Smartling’s translation proxy tool, the Global Delivery Network, simplifies and accelerates the process of launching multilingual websites, making it easy for you to translate websites and web applications without the need to develop and maintain multiple translated websites. Businesses use Smartling’s website localization software for marketing and product promotion, as well as their dynamic applications such as e-commerce and personalized websites, all without needing to make infrastructure changes or additions.