Author: Fabiana Grassi

English translation: Martina Pozzi
Traduction en français: Federica Bonapace

Your website is your online business card, it makes you visible on the Internet, so your target audience can find you. Through your website, a potential customer can retrieve information about your brand and, if you own an e-commerce, purchase your products or services directly from it.

How should a good website be?

From a technical point of view, several important aspects must be considered; first of all, you must ensure that your website can be browsed on all devices.
Moreover, a good website should be well organized and intuitive, so that users can surf it and easily retrieve all the information they need.

As far as language is concerned, a website must address your target audience – i.e. your potential customers – correctly.
This means that it must be written with the right Tone of Voice, using the sectorial jargon (if it’s a B2B website; while if it’s a B2C website, you should avoid terms that are too technical for your potential customer) and the appropriate keywords. Moreover, it should present clear, useful, well-written content, meaning that it should always consider how users look for your products (i.e. your texts must be optimized for search engines, or SEO-friendly).

A good website is able to “convert”, this means that it makes your users do what you would like them to do: ask for information, purchase a product, ask for a quote, contact you, etc.

A good website translation does all of this, but in another language.

Why should you translate your website?

A translation gives you a huge advantage from a commercial point of view:

  • It allows you to access new markets, offering the possibility of diversifying and testing new market shares that you haven’t explored yet;
  • If done properly, it gives you more visibility and helps to improve your positioning in search engines, including the original version, as well;
  • Long story short, it allows you to reach and communicate with new potential customers.

A series of surveys carried out in the last few years have confirmed a trend: although we know foreign languages, we always tend to purchase and look for information using our mother tongue.
Just to give you an example, 1 European citizen out of 5 never visits websites written in foreign languages, while 48% of EU citizens never purchase products or services if they are not available in their mother tongue.

Here’s why website translation – or to be precise, localization – is a fundamental tool for companies.

How should a website be translated?

Website translation is somewhere in between business translation and localization (i.e. a translation which is adapted to the culture and/or business environment of the target country or audience).

This means that it must feature some elements of both types of translation: like business translation, it should be captivating and based on some marketing concepts(the tone of voice, the target audience, etc.), while, like localization, it must be adapted to the target market (for example, using relevant business terms and shipping conditions, or using currencies or units of measurement normally used in target countries).

A good website translation should:

  • Speak to your target customer in a natural way (with a language and a Tone of Voice based on research on the target audience)
  • Also be a localization, besides being a translation, that can perfectly adapt to the target market (a product can be sold in ounces to an English customer, while it should be presented in grams or milliliters to Italian customers)
  • Be well written, without syntax mistakes or wrong use of the language
  • Be simple and pleasant to read, but also captivating
  • Contain the right keywords, the ones foreign customers normally use to find your products
  • Be based on a keyword research, in order to be optimized for search engines (SEO-friendly)
  • Be exhaustive and meticulous

How SHOULDN’T a website be translated?

An website translation should never:

  • Be a “word-for-word” translationwhich doesn’t take into account the specificities of the target market (for example if your “plus” are free or quick deliveries in your region, you cannot use this element as an advantage for international shipping, so you should define other advantages dedicated to the target market).
  • Be done with an automatic translator, because it doesn’t use a natural language, it isn’t able to analyze the context and doesn’t know the right keywords to be used
  • Contain grammar or spelling mistakes (this rule also applies to the original version of the website)
  • Be translated only partially(just imagine how frustrating it can be for a user if a website has some information in English, but the menu, the contact form or the buttons are in French)

Who should translate your website?

The ideal translator for your website should:

  • Be a professional (and human!) translator
  • Be specialized in business translation
  • Preferably have a marketing background
  • Know the functioning of SEO (search engine optimization)

I hope this article has helped you to better understand what you should do if you want to have your website translated into other languages.
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