A fully-functional, SEO-optimized website can do wonders for your business, no doubt, but in reality, it may not help you reap the rewards of all that effort that you have been putting in. That’s because it may still be accessible to only a quarter of the internet population. So, in this day and age, where globalization can take you places, you are losing out. What’s the solution? The solution is to make your site more accessible, especially to those who don’t understand English, and that’s roughly 73.7% of the internet audience. In short, you need to get your website translated in language(s) they understand.
1- SEO-Friendly Translation is the Key
Now, the first instinct is of course to use Google Translate and opt for machine translation of your content, but beware, it can cost you big time. Yes, using Google’s own tool can get your site in trouble, because the “automatically generated content” is likely to be in violation of the webmaster guidelines. Also, machine translated content may have a lot of errors in it, and can attract an indexing penalty, especially if Google’s algorithm treats it as nothing but gibberish, and people are unable to find what they are looking for. To avoid this, you can either learn a new language or consider the services of a professional translator. At least get the mistakes rectified, if any, so as to get higher SEO rankings for the translated content.
2- Machine Translation Narrows Your Reach
A literal word for word translation can never convey what you wanted to say in the first place. Moreover, your global audience is unlikely to related to it, especially if they do not find the idioms and expressions that they believe are endemic to their language. Even worse, if the translation tool does not recognize proper nouns and genders or makes spelling mistakes, your content will be rendered illegible to say the least. Now imagine, if you are running a business in the US and your website has English content, such erroneous translation can easily drive away the Spanish speakers; 40 million people will either not understand or won’t like the content of your site. Compare the work of a certified translator with that of an automated tool, and you’ll know better.
3- Ineffective Translation Can Hit You Hard
Machine translated content may seem to be the best solution if you are looking for a wider reach, but you have be to more specific about who you want to reach out to, to begin with. Unless you identify your market, any investment you make in this regard may backfire. Translators are available for various languages, but which of these do your potential customers speak? Think about it, and while you are it, also consider the future. You may not be targeting a specific language-speaking community at the moment, but may wish to appeal to them in the days to come.
4- Respect the Culture of the Audience
Not being able to reach out to your audience is one thing, but offending them, especially on cultural grounds, is another. Good translation will only work in your favor if your content is sensitive to cultural differences especially in the Middle East and other parts of the world, where what may seem inoffensive to you can easily trigger a spark.
5- Go Global but Remain Local at the Same Time
Even a well-translated site may not get you enough business if the audience has to call up a foreign number to avail the services they need; they will always go with somebody local. Make sure that even if you are not based in their country, your contact information does not alienate them and encourages them to get in touch with you. You can check out some localization examples to understand how even the biggest companies leave no stone unturned when it comes to wooing the audience.
6- Don’t Let the Basics Take a Backseat
If you are duplicating your site content through translation, in order to reach a different audience, let Google know about it, unless you wish to be penalized. Use hreflang tags or attributes so that Google knows that different version of your site are targeted at different areas and displays the correct one accordingly. Also, apply some ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) for better results and lesser chances of attracting a penalty. More importantly, don’t make everything about Google. For example, if you are in Russia, focus on Yandex; channel your energies towards Baidu, while reaching out to the Chinese market. As mentioned earlier, appear as local as possible.
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