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So, you’ve got a great website and a solid content strategy in place, and things are going well. But, recently, you’ve been becoming increasingly aware that only having your content available in one language might be severely limiting your reach.
Say, for example, that your content is currently only in English. Well, you’re off to an excellent start, as 25% of internet users access information in English. But though it’s still the language with the largest share of the internet, there’s no guarantee it will stay that way. Plus, there’s still another 75% of users whose language you’re not speaking. That’s quite a hefty chunk.
And it makes so much sense. If you consider your own internet usage, you’ll find that you rarely, or never, buy from sites that don’t have well-written content in the language you speak. If you’re anything like us, you might even change your mind about them just because a comma is out of place.
So, translating your content into another language is a fantastic way of expanding your audience and reach.
But now comes the tricky part. With so many different languages to choose from, how do you narrow it down? How many languages should you translate your content into, and which languages should they be?
Which languages should you choose?
Start by asking yourself these key questions:
- Is there an obvious choice?
- Do you already have a customer base or website visitors from a certain country?
- What are your business goals?
- What does market research tell you?
- Do you need to target both different languages and different countries?
- Are you set up to work with customers in your target country?
- What’s your budget?
Is there an obvious choice?
Depending on where your business is based in the world, there might be a language that it’s extremely important for you to be speaking.
For example, some countries have multiple official languages, like Canada and Belgium. In this case, choosing not to make your content available in the other official language or languages spoken in your country means you’re excluding a large part of the population.
Even if a language isn’t official, if there’s a significant group of people that speak it, then it’s well worth considering. A great example of this would be Spanish in the United States.
Do you already have a significant number of customers or visitors from a certain country?
Although your content is currently untranslated, are you making significant or consistent sales in a certain country? If so, then you’ve already got a good foothold, and the likelihood is that translating your content could boost that even further.
Also look at your website visitor numbers. You can use Google Analytics or a similar tool to identify the countries that your website visitors are coming from. You might find that you’re attracting visitors but failing to convert them, and translation could help you turn those visitors into customers.
What are your business goals?
What are the priorities for your business? Where do you plan to go in the next six months, a year, five years? Launching your website and other content in a new language is a big deal and shouldn’t be a spur of the moment decision. Instead, your choice of languages and countries to target should be aligned with your overall strategic aims.
What does market research tell you?
When looking into potential markets, keyword research is a great place to start. This will help you understand search demand for terms relevant to your brand. Google Trends is another great resource, and is a fantastic way of seeing how search queries have changed over time so you can see whether interest is increasing or decreasing.
For any countries you’ve identified as likely candidates, it’s important to do some thorough market research before diving in. Check out your competitors and get some solid data to back up your choice before committing.
Do you need both different languages and different countries?
As we touched on earlier, often one country has multiple languages, either official or de facto. And on the flipside, many languages are native to multiple countries, including English, Spanish and Portuguese. (Find out what sets Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese apart.) Consider whether it makes sense for your website to offer people the choice of both the country they’re in and the language they speak, or just one or the other.
Neil Patel’s website has some great guidance about whether to cater to both different languages and different countries.
Are you set up to work with customers in that country?
Adapting your content sends a message that you welcome customers from that specific country. So your business should actually be set up to work with consumers there, especially if you sell and ship goods. For example, ask yourself:
- Can you accept payment in the local currency?
- Can you deliver to their address?
- Are there local payment gateway providers (such as PayPal) and delivery services you should be using instead of international companies?
- Do the name, address, payment, and telephone fields in all your forms accommodate local requirements and norms? (Your translator should be able to advise on this).
What’s your budget?
There’s no getting around the fact that quality translation is an investment, and some languages will be more expensive to translate into than others. And with translation, it’s better to get your content translated well into fewer languages, than poorly and cheaply translated into multiple.
Bear in mind that languages that use different writing systems or run from right to left will be more complicated, and therefore have a higher price tag.
Preparing for translation
In short, when it comes to deciding which languages to translate your content into, make sure you take your time and do your research. Once you’ve made your decision, commit to it and you’ll soon start to reap the rewards.
Create a new strategy for each market
When you’ve decided which languages and countries you want to target, your next step should be creating a market strategy specific to each locale. Here you’ll feed in the market research insights you gained earlier to consider how you might adapt your positioning, pricing model or available product or service range.
You’ll also want to consider technical elements, such as how to structure your website for different markets and which content management system (CMS) to use.
Choose your translator
With a target market set in your sights, the next step is to approach a translator to translate or localise your website and other marketing materials. For lifestyle businesses wanting to tap into the Portuguese market, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Otherwise, find out where you can find fantastic translators.