Customers Want Website Translated

Last month, Eurobarometer released a study that examined how Europeans react to foreign-language content on the Internet. The results were clear: if you do business online and have an international clientele, translating your website could help you attract customers and may even increase sales.

English may be the most common language on the Internet, but it’s by no means a universal tongue. While the survey showed that one out of two European web surfers were willing to seek out content that wasn’t in their first language, that high percentage is skewed as citizens of some EU member countries are more likely to seek out foreign-language content than citizens of other countries. From a press release summarizing the results of the study:

“This figure hides great variations as between 90 and 93% of Greeks, Slovenes, Luxembourgers, Maltese and Cypriots indicated they would use other languages when online, but only 9% of UK citizens, 11% of Irish, 23% of Czechs and 25% of Italians said they would do so.”

When it comes to actually putting their money where their eyeballs are, the statistics are even more stark: Only 18% of the respondents were willing to buy products online in another language “frequently or all the time,” and 42% would never buy a product online if the website was in another language.

In the press release, Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, said:

“If we are serious about making every European digital, we need to make sure that they can understand the web content they want. We are developing new technologies that can help people who cannot understand a foreign language.”

That’s all well and good, but if you want to make customers who don’t speak your language feel welcome on your website, getting your site translated by a reputable company  is a much better idea than relying on machine translation technology. Computer translations are still far from perfect. Sometimes they sound and awkward and lack nuance, other times they are just plain wrong. Either way, wouldn’t it be better for your foreign customers to see polished, flawlessly translated text that carries your company’s message and entices them to buy?

6 replies
  1. Doug Woods
    Doug Woods says:

    “We are developing new technologies that can help people that cannot understand a foreign language.” oops! surely that should be ‘who cannot understand a foreign language?

  2. John Le Fevre
    John Le Fevre says:

    Machine translations suck and in many instances, if using English as the base language, produce results that at the least look like they were produced by a dyslexic moron and at worst are insulting to the website visitor.

    More importantly, from an SEO point, machine translations provide no SEO benefit if it’s done by way of a plug-in that converts on demand, while simple literal translations often miss the mark also. The words, structure and nuances that work in English often don’t work in a foreign language. What is important to an American, Brit or Australian is often of little importance to a a German, Japanese or Indonesian.

    Simply giving a native foreign language speaker a piece of test and getting them to translate it is not the approach for successful website content display and SEO.

    As an example. Holiday rental properties. While Americans, British or Aussies might be interested in how far the property is from the beach or public transport, we’ve found that this doesn’t ring true for other nationalities.

    Thais are more interested in how far away from the nearest place to eat is and food is something they will search for determining a rental location. Muslims want to know the distance to the nearest mosque, Japanese are interested in security information, etc.

    Targeting people whose native language is not English requires more than just using a native speaker of that language to change the words and companies that don’t understand that not everyone thinks like an American, Englishman or Kiwi are wasting their time, no matter how good the translation.

    Going “foreign” means thinking foreign too.

  3. Richard Michie
    Richard Michie says:

    Totally agree with your comments. We never use machine translation and then offer post-editing as some other agencies seem to be offering. There’s a massive danger in the rush to the bottom some companies are happy to enter. If a company is having something published on their mother tongue website, usually English, they’ll have it properly written and proofread. What I never understand is why they wouldn’t apply the same process when it’s translated.

  4. Mario
    Mario says:

    I absolutely agree that one mustn’t have one’s homepage translated by a machine. Go out, put a bit effort in finding the right translation agency and you will receive the success you aimed at.

  5. Charmaine
    Charmaine says:

    That’s precisely the reason why we developed a globalize web app now to make a website could translate one whole site in just a few days for any language pair…plus it’s professionally done by human translators that don’t make the translate site moronic…^^


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