What languages should I translate my website into?


Your business is doing really well. You’re scaling up and you’re expanding into new markets. Great! You’re now thinking your website needs to be in other languages, but which ones?

Before I go into that, let me just tell you, well-done! You are one step ahead of most businesses out there, investing your money for all the right reasons. And if you are not convinced you need a multilingual website, did you know that…

…the Common Sense Advisory 2014 study found that

  • 60% of buyers rarely or never buy from English-only websites

  • 75% of visitors prefer to buy products from a website in their native language

  • 72.4% of consumers are more likely to buy products in their native language

  • 56% either spend more time on sites in their own language than they do in English or boycott English-language URLs altogether?

And let’s take a look at the “everyone speaks English” fallacy. There are about 7.5 billion people on the planet. Roughly 1.5 billion speak English. That’s 20% of the Earth’s population, not 100%. And no, that doesn’t include the English native speakers only. It includes everyone who speaks English. About 360 million people speak English as their first language.

So, you think you’re ready to embark on your website translation journey. Brilliant. Here are a few things to consider before you set off.

First things first, ask yourself:

  • Where are your customers?

  • What countries do they live in?

  • What languages do they speak?

  • Are these countries existing markets for you or are they new markets you wish to enter?

  • According to your website’s analytics, which countries is your website traffic coming from?

  • And which languages do your website visitors use?

  • Do you have fewer visits from other countries because you don’t have your site in their language or because of other reasons?

Once you have defined your market segments and most importantly their languages, now you are able to generate revenue estimates and prioritise the languages in which you want to translate your website.

Before you do that here are a few tips

Think language and locale. Belgium is a locale, French is a language. French for Belgium is different from French for France or Canada. Portuguese (Europe) is different from Portuguese (South America). You get the picture.

Think translation vs localisation. Translation transfers the words, the meaning, the ideas, the messages of your content. Localisation deals with the technical needs of each locale such as HQ addresses, contact details, currency symbols, pricing, different metric systems etc.

Curate your content. You have decided what languages you want your website in. But have you decided what content you are having translated for each one? Do you sell the same products in France as you do in Germany and USA? Translate only what’s relevant for that specific market, otherwise, it won’t make sense to your local website visitors.

Futureproof your site. You might think getting your website translated is all you need to do. The reality is, every time you publish something new on your English site you might want to reflect the change in all other locales. Does your CMS support that? Do you have a team ready to take on the extra work?

These tips don't cover everything you need to consider when it comes to website localisation. They are, however, good to get you started.

Do you have questions? Tell me in the comments or simply drop me a line.

Vasiliki is a translator, interpreter, transcreator, blogger, consultant and director of Greek to Me Translations Ltd. She works with English and Greek and specialises in legal, creative, and psychometrics. She is a Chartered Linguist, member of CIoL, ITI and PEM and she is registered with the Greek Consulate as a certified translator and interpreter. She holds a BA in English and Masters in Business Translation and Interpreting. She is a Steering Group Member of the CIOL Translating Division and CIOL Business, Professions and Government Division. She is an Associate Lecturer in Legal Translation at London Metropolitan University, a public speaker and writer for industry magazines. Her mission is to help you achieve your goals through the power of words. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Greek to Me Translations Ltd
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The contents of this blog belong to Vasiliki Prestidge, Director of Greek to Me Translations Ltd and cannot be copied or reproduced without the prior written permission of the author.

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