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Website Translation: Which Languages to Choose?

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The decision to translate a website into multiple languages should be driven by a company’s business development strategy. Having your website content available in only one language might significantly limit your prospect client reach, while it could also fail to create a strong customer experience and generate repeat traffic.

Language and cultural barriers can pose significant challenges to businesses looking to expand into new markets. A well-translated and localized website helps to overcome these barriers, bringing companies closer to their target audiences, thus increasing website engagement, visits and sales.

Although English is one of the most spoken languages worldwide (plus the most used online), 85% of people around the world speak a different language other than English. 

Let’s take a close look at the various factors that should be taken into account when localizing business websites for foreign markets.

1. Target Markets

Company’s target markets are one of the most important factors when deciding on which language(s) a website should be translated into. Identifying the right foreign target markets is not an easy task though. Businesses should explore the current and potential countries that have the highest demands for the type of products and services they are specializing in by conducting research and surveys or focus on the current audience to better understand buyer profiles. Furthermore, if there is already a business plan to expand into certain countries, the cultural practices of those countries should also be taken into account. 

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2. Website Traffic

Website traffic reveals a lot about current audiences and helps companies build a target audience or adjust their business strategy accordingly. Information such as where visitors come from, what their native languages are, or which languages they use to browse a website can provide valuable insights in the decision making of a company to invest in website translation.

If for example 30% of the users come from Spain, but website’s default language is English, there is a huge potential to improve the site’s engagement, popularity and revenue by translating the content in their mother tongue.

3. Competitors

It is also important to visit competitors’ websites in order to understand their online marketing strategy and business direction. This will provide insights on how to organize the business strategy in order to acquire competitive advantage with website translation.

4. Top languages used on the web

Online content is consumed in hundreds of different languages. According to Statista, English is the most commonly used language on the Internet, accounting for 25.9% of Internet users. Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, and Indonesian/Malaysian are the top 5 most popular languages people use online.

Website translation can offer your business the opportunity to reach a larger number of audiences and increase the traffic while promoting your business globally.

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5. Cost for website translation

The cost of translation depends on various factors, such as the language pair, the type of content, the wordcount, the deadline, the availability of qualified translators and the translators’ location.

Languages that are spoken by large numbers of people like Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and English tend to cost less per word. Less common languages, spoken by less people like Icelandic, Nepalese and Maori, are generally more expensive.

In some cases, supply outweighs the demand for translation. Additionally, if the cost of living is low, translators charge lower rates too. That is the reason why Chinese is one of the least expensive translation languages, while Nordic languages are some of the most expensive ones. The cost of living and the demand for translation is high, but the number of translators is low.

6. Website redesign efforts

Localizing the website into different languages can also affect its overall design. Some languages like Arabic and Hebrew are read and written from right to left or character-based languages like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean generally require fewer characters and less space than Roman alphabet languages to convey the same sentence. As a result, the entire layout and design of the original website should be adapted to reflect the characteristics of these languages.

These are in brief the most important factors that need to be taken into consideration when localizing business websites. Whatever language you decide to translate your website into, contact Commit Global to help you achieve your goals and stand out in the global market.

Read also:

What is involved in Website Localization?

Website Localization: Why is it so important?

Which languages should I translate my website into?

The “who” and the “how” in website localization

What is Web Accessibility & How to Implement it?

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