Website Translation Mistakes: 8 Common Errors You Need to Fix Now

When it comes to website translation, there are plenty of resources out there for the DIY crowd.  And yet, translating your website is trickier than it appears, and a poorly translated website does no favours for your brand or your business.

Is your multilingual site not performing as well as you’d expected? Here are 8 common website translation mistakes that could be scaring off your customers.

You trusted Google Translate.

When you’re on a tight budget, free machine translation tools like Google Translate can seem downright miraculous. But while machine translation has improved quite a bit over the past decade, it’s still not foolproof. Sure, you may not end up with one of these spectacularly embarrassing Google Translate mistakes on your site. However, it’s still common for free online translation tools to result in awkward, stilted phrasing and minor errors in grammar and vocabulary.

You probably either spent a lot of time or paid a professional to get the copy on your English-language website right. Why flush all of that effort down the drain for your international customers?

Your layout got lost in translation.

If you want to make a good impression on your customers, having a well-designed site is important. But did you consider how translating the words on the page would affect the layout?

Different languages take up different amounts of space on the page, both horizontally and sometimes vertically. That means that translation and design must often be considered in tandem. The page layout may need to be tweaked to accommodate the translated text. The translator can also try to minimise text expansion and contraction by modifying word choice and phrasing while preserving the original message. 

You forgot about multilingual SEO.

Guess what? If your customers can’t find your site, they won’t come. Does your website rank well in Google, in English? Fantastic! But those rankings won’t necessarily be the same in your target languages. Plus, depending on your target languages, you may need to cater to other search engines, as well.

Often, it’s not just the copy that users see on the page that requires translation for multilingual SEO. Fields like meta tags and alt descriptions should be optimised in the target language as well.

By developing and implementing a multilingual SEO strategy, you ensure a steady flow of customers ready to buy what you’re selling.

You forgot to translate your forms.

You probably go through quite a bit of trouble trying to get visitors to convert. Don’t sabotage those efforts by offering them contact forms, sign-up forms or checkout forms that they can’t read.

You’re not translating supporting marketing channels.

“Sign up for our email list.” “Follow us on Facebook.” Want to keep your international audience engaged? Then you need to speak their language.

For more, see 6 Reasons Multilingual Content Marketing is More Important than You Think. 

You’re just translating, not localising.

Translating the copy on your site from one language to another is a good start. But often, it’s not enough. You have to take cultural differences into account to understand how they can affect your audience. Localising your site goes a step beyond merely translating text to help you more effectively target customers in your desired markets.

That can mean changing the colour scheme and site design to accommodate cultural preferences. It can mean recreating a campaign from the ground up to make it more effective to the desired audience (a process called transcreation).  And it can mean ensuring that payment options reflect local preferences.

You failed to optimise for the devices your customers are using.

In some countries, even the most meticulously localised website won’t live up to its potential if it’s not optimised for mobile.

For example,  in Europe and the UK, desktops have a little over half of the overall market share.  But in India, 78% of Internet users access the web on a mobile device. You’re sunk if your website doesn’t offer a good mobile experience!

You aren’t keeping up with updates.

If you want to offer customers from other countries the same great experience they get from the main site, plan on updating the content regularly on all versions of the site.

Want to learn more about how to make your website an international success? Download our free ebook! 

You may already know about the benefits of translating your website, like increased customer trust and increased sales from international customers. But if you’re making one of the mistakes listed above, your business isn’t making the most of its international presence.

Overwhelmed? We can help.  At K International, our linguists and consultants will not only help you avoid these common mistakes, we’ll help you develop a full-fledged strategy to make your site successful in any of 250 languages.  If that sounds good to you, feel free to contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

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