Your business is going international? That is great, but now your website will need to appear in more than one language. The issue? You don’t speak all of those languages, let alone write coherently in them. How will you set up your blog and translate your content?
The answer comes in multiple parts. First, you don’t need a whole bunch of domain names, but you can purchase particular country extensions if you wish. This is a good way to distinguish between your different sites, but it is really unnecessary if you use the right tools. A good .com or .net domain. is pretty much universal.
What are the steps you need to take if you are going to set up a multi-language blog and really go all in internationally? Here are some of the basics.
First, and simplest, you need to choose the languages you are going to add to your site. This is determined by the countries where you will do business and the languages that are spoken there. Many European and Asian countries have more than one language spoken by their citizens, and even Canada has both French and English speakers. Do your research and choose at least the primary language of the country you are trying to reach.
One other key to going international is to choose the default language of your site. If you are in the United States, this is American English, but if your primary sales are elsewhere the language you choose might be different. Remember to base this on your customers’ preferences, not yours. There will still be an English site for your use, but the SEO and other components will be optimized for your primary language first rather than being translated.
The Importance of Auto Language Detection
This brings up the importance of auto language detection. Depending on your web builder platform or if you have a custom site this will involve an app or certain lines of code. Either way, your site should detect the default language of the users’ browser and appear in that language first.
This ensures your site will appear in the preferred language of your user first. If they want to switch the language after that, they can, but it gives them the ability to read and comprehend the switching process if they need to change it. This is the way you can best make sure your site is understood from the start.
Language Switcher Apps
There are a number of language switcher apps available. The reason for this is that you don’t want a site with three homepages, one in each of the languages the site can be accessed in. In this case, there would be three of each of the pages on the site, all in different languages.
This makes the site bulky and hard to navigate especially on mobile devices. With nearly 80% of Google searches starting on a mobile device, this is vital to the success of your site. The Google AMP project and mobile first searchmeans this is one of the things you need to look at first when designing your site.
Choose a Translation Method
Essentially there are two translation methods, and we will talk more about the second one in a moment. They are human translations and machine translations. Human translation is by far the best method. This ensures that your content is translated correctly, and that idioms that are not easily understood and other language issues are corrected as well.
As smart as machines are and as good as they are at learning and translating languages, they are still not 100% capable of understanding and doing proper translations of intricate posts and languages. The other issue is that without human translation, SEO and tags are often poorly translated as well, affecting your foreign search engine rankings as well.
The thing is if you blog regularly, human translation can be expensive on every single post, and some will just not translate well. The interests US reade do not always perform as well in other countries. The best-case scenario is to have a team that translates your pots, and have them let you know if one does not translate well so you can exclude that from your alternate language site.
Google Translate Pros and Cons
Maybe you don’t have the budget for human translation of everything. Almost every site builder from WordPress to Shopify will integrate with Google translate to reproduce your site in another language. There are a few problems with that, and they are outlined below.
● Poor Translations: Sometimes meaning is lost in translation even if your sentences and topics are pretty simple.
● The Loss of Idiom: Some phrases just don’t translate or make sense when they do. Google translate does a straight phrase for phrase translation, so might miss this.
● It’s Just Not Smart Enough (Yet): Machine learning and artificial intelligence mean that there will come a time when translation is easier, but Google is just not smart enough yet to work that way. Don’t rely on it completely unless you have to.
● It’s Borderline Unprofessional: If you run a business, it is borderline unprofessional to use a free translator that just does not do the job as well as it should.
The only reason to use Google translate is as a stop-gap to save money in the short term until your business can afford real translation. It could be argued though that until you can afford real, human translation services, you can’t afford to go international.
Going international with your blog and adding more than one language is going to cost you. It really is that simple. You have to weigh the benefits of that translation. How many more converts, readers, and customers will you gain by doing so? Is it worth it to your business? If the answer is yes, then go for it. If when you run the numbers you don’t see a profit or the potential for one, you may want to reconsider.
There is only one person who can decide if going international with your blog is worth it, and that person is you. Look over these basic requirements and determine if going international and multilingual is the right move for you and your website.