Web Site Translation:
Two Most Important Things To Know

Those who need a professional Web site translation usually hire a translation company or a translator, resting assured that they will do the job right. I'm afraid such confidence may be unfounded.

When you built your site, you prepared well. You wrote great content and provided value to the visitors of your website.

You put a lot of effort in your traffic-building campaign: researched the best keywords and put them in all strategic places (such as title tags, meta description tags, Alt tags, link text), optimized your Web pages for search engines, and got links from highly respected "authority" sites in your niche. In other words, you did everything to be found by your customer online.

If you have not done that and have built yet another unvisited Web site, there is no point in translating it into the other languages in the hope that foreign language pages of your site will bring more traffic, and so more customers. They won't. You'll end up with frustration, wasted money and time. For starters, build a site that works. And here is how…

So, the first thing you should know about Web site translation is that it will not improve your business results if your site is underperforming.

Ok, let's go on. Let's browse pages of translation companies offering Web site translation services. What do they tell you? They tell you that in this era of globalization it is desirable to have your website translated into foreign languages; that this is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach international markets; that customers are four times more likely to buy online when they read a product description in their native language, and so on, and so forth. You will learn that translation companies are capable of handling files in HTML, ASP, CFM, PHP or other formats and can localize your graphics.

However, many translation companies do not say a word about optimizing your site for searches in foreign languages. But there is little point in translating the website into foreign languages if it can't be found on international markets because all your carefully selected keywords have been lost in translation!

The last thing you want is to see your search engine friendly and keyword optimized website lost in translation.

Your translation team (unless you educate it properly about the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) and the methods to achieve this goal) has the ability to bring to nothing all your SEO efforts. This is the second thing you should know.

So as not to be in for an unpleasant surprise when dealing with your translators, take the following steps:

  • Involve your translation team when planning keywords for foreign language versions of your site.
  • Develop a glossary of your researched and preapproved keywords and search phrases. This glossary must be binding upon your translators. This will significantly increase the chances of your website being found by foreign customers.
  • Educate your translation service provider on keyword placement, search engine friendly writing, the necessity of translation of meta tags and Alt tags, proper use of language tags and encodings.

Optimizing the multilingual website for search engines in foreign markets provides ways for these search engines to access the site. Such optimization requires research in all your target markets, as well as training for your translation team and web team.

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