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We’re not saying that you shouldn’t create a version of your website in a foreign language. Quite the opposite, in fact. As long as they all make sense for your business, then we’d even go as far as saying ‘the more languages, the better’.
What we are saying is that it might not be translation per se that you actually need.
Translation involves transferring the meaning from one text in one language into an equivalent text in another language. Basically, the aim of translation is to communicate the text’s meaning as accurately as possible and to stay true to the original. Translation doesn’t normally involve making changes to the message, layout or content of the text to tailor it to a specific audience. And yet, because your website’s overarching purpose is to drive sales, it needs to properly address each target audience and meet their needs and expectations. The upshot? Translation alone often isn’t the best option. So what else might work?
Going beyond translation
Transcreation: the same impact, in a different language
Transcreation is often a better option than translation for websites. Transcreation is a technique most often used in marketing, literary and highly creative translations. It places the emphasis on communicating ideas and following a brief and can stray much further from the original text.
Let’s take slogans for example. Slogans are there to provoke a certain reaction in the reader, to make them feel a certain way and to take action – whether that’s signing up for a newsletter, purchasing a product or heading to your website to find out more. Slogans almost never translate literally. A transcreator understands the cultural contexts of both languages and can recreate the feeling you’re trying to elicit, potentially using words with a completely different meaning.
Website localisation: more than just text
Website localisation is about looking at the website as a whole and making changes so that users in a particular market find it understandable and easy to use. As well as translating and making changes to the text, this could include recommending changes to images, colours, fonts, currencies, payment options and contact information. Its aim is to make the website feel like it was created just for that market.
SEO translation: pleasing the Google gods
Search engine optimisation (SEO) translation involves translating your website content and blog posts according to SEO best practice. During keyword research and localisation the best keywords for a specific market are identified. Then SEO translators use those keywords in strategic places in their translation to help your website appear high up in relevant search results.
Copywriting: new content for each market
Another approach you can take is to hire copywriters to create content directly for each market. This means you could work on different language versions all at the same time. Because each copywriter would be creating text from scratch rather than referring to a source text, they wouldn’t be influenced by it, allowing them to pen a piece that really speaks to the target market from the outset. Working this way may mean you end up with quite different websites for different markets. To make sure each version hits the mark, you’ll need to have a thorough and clear brief and a content style guide.
Paving the way for excellent translation, localisation, transcreation or copywriting
New market, new strategy
Transcreation, website localisation and SEO translation will help you connect with your new target market. But we don’t think it should come first. To set yourself up for success in a new market, you should really start with research and strategy.
Take a step back and look into the needs of this new market, the demand and the competition. This will help you decide the best approach to take and understand what changes you need to make. You might end up adapting your pricing or pricing model, your product positioning or discovering there’s a local competitor using a similar slogan. Doing this groundwork will give you a much clearer idea of the direction you want to go in the new market. And the insights you’ve gained will be helpful for your translator as well.
If you don’t have the time to do the market research and strategy yourself, hiring a cultural consultant can be a great choice. They’ll bring with them in-depth knowledge of the market, culture and language you’re targeting, meaning they’ll be able to help you identify both challenges and opportunities. Arrange a call to find out how we can help you create a strategy for the Portuguese market.
Set your website up for translation
If you’re serious about expanding into a foreign market or foreign markets, then it’s best to think about this when designing your website if possible. That way, your website design and content can be created with future translation and multiple languages in mind. And this will make it much easier to adapt for new markets when the time is right.
Need some help?
If you’re not sure which approach would be best for your website, or you’d like help putting together a strategy for reaching the Portuguese market, we’d be happy to help. Set up a call and we’ll discuss all your concerns and how we can help.