Websites that offer multiple languages are inherently more user-friendly for a wider audience and are working to build up a strong brand loyalty in customers from around the world. Many businesses feel that they don’t need to bother with adding multiple languages to their website; however, not doing so can be really damaging for a large and mid-sized brand.
Even if you only sell to a native market, regardless of what country you’re in, there are always going to be minority ethnic groups who might not be able to engage with your product due to a language barrier. For example, around 14% of all American residents speak Spanish as their first language, meaning that not catering to their needs can be really harmful to your brand and leave out a share of the market that could help boost your profitability.
Furthermore, too many businesses rely on the automatic Google translate function to make their English content accessible. Although the technology is useful for making it feasible to navigate a website this way, there are going to be mistakes and poor translations that will negatively affect clarity, which will contribute to an increased bounce rate from non-native speakers. Translating this way also suggests a lack of care or effort to these types of customers, meaning that the best way to properly cater to a foreign language-speaking website visitor is to manually translate your webpages to create a proper multi-language website.
Doing this isn’t an easy process, however. Essentially, it is like creating, crafting, and curating multiple websites all at once. To help keep you on track and to help improve your efforts, use this guide to help you make a perfect multi-language website without the hassle that’s usually associated with it.
Get Content Professionally Translated
First things first, if you don’t invest in professional translations, you will struggle to create a multi-language website that’s up to standard. Even if you yourself are a speaker of the language you’re translating to, there are many potential issues such as tonal changes and grammar that a professional will be able to navigate. There is a huge difference between someone using an automated translation tool on your site and offering a Spanish version of your site. You’ll want to do this with a TMS system. If you’re wondering what is translation management software, it’s essentially a management system that will allow you to streamline and manage multiple translation projects between your team and your translators. It’s the best way to handle and add new content to your growing website.
TMS systems usually translate pieces in a fairly quick manner and are easily the best software to use if you have to translate and organize multiple different pieces of text, such as the pages on a large website.
Create Page Templates to Keep Your Website Consistent
You want your website to look the same, regardless of which language is being featured. The reason for this is that having uniformity among different languages will help you create a more recognizable brand.
Keeping things consistent can be done fairly easily by creating templates where you can then add the new content. From the front page to even a blog page, this is the easiest way to do it, and if you save it as a template, you can easily add further new languages as time goes on and your business expands.
This applies to posts as well. The content, images, and overall formatting will generally be the same (with minor adjustments) so create a template for your posts so that you can switch over the content when you have the finalized translation. This will also help you stay efficient when creating new content and will also help guide you in how your output should look.
Create Multi-Language Marketing and Design Assets
Having a multi-language website is all well and good; however, if you don’t have the means to drive foreign-speaking customers to your website, then there’s not really much point in having it. This is why it’s important that your marketing efforts are also multi-language.
There are various ways to do this so that you can make your social media more inclusive. One way for Instagram is to post your content as normal; however, offer translations in the captions, including all the necessary information. The other option is to have sister social media accounts in a specific language. With this, you can post the same content as the main English-speaking channel but have it translated, or you can hire a specific social media manager who is a native speaker in that language to provide unique content of their own.
When marketing for other languages, it’s important that you consider colloquial phrases and words before posting something. For example, a pun in English, when translated to Spanish, may no longer be a pun but instead gibberish. Thankfully, using a translation service will be able to make your content context-specific and appropriately catered to each audience.
Add a Simple Language Switcher
This is something so simple but can be easily overlooked if you aren’t careful. If you are going to go through the effort of putting more than one language on your site, then it needs to be easily accessible. This can be done by looking at your visitors’ IP address and automatically switching, yes, but always, always have a simple switcher tool that can be found instantly on the web and on mobile so that the user can manually switch the language. This is because, even if an IP address is from the United States, they could be one of the many foreign-language speakers living in the area. Or they may be a person from abroad using a private VPN to change their server address so that they can access content from other countries. Always give visitors the option to choose their preferred language.
Ensure SEO On All Versions of Your Site
Always perform SEO checks on each version of your website. If one side of it is slow, or the content doesn’t seem to be ranking well, address the issue head-on. You can increase sales and visibility massively this way, so long as you put equal emphasis on all versions of your site. As adding more languages to your website increases its size, it means that there’s more opportunity for issues like bad links and 404 errors to crop up. This means that conducting an SEO audit regularly is a good idea, as it can help ensure that your website is running smoothly.
It’s also important to know that a phrase that might rank well in English might not be popular in a different language when translated. So when your page that’s targeting a keyword such as ‘mountain bike wheels’ is doing really well on English search engines, you can’t assume the same will be on Spanish engines when translated to ‘ruedas de bicicleta de montaña.’ Instead, another phrase might be better to target in that language, meaning that it might be better to write something unique for that page rather than a direct translation. Professional online translation services will be able to help you with this, and it’s a big thing to consider, as it can be the difference between mediocre and great SEO.