It may have occurred to you that you could be missing out on a lot of business by not investing some time and effort into communicating with other than English speaking audiences? The best way to reach this vast sea of consumers, both locally and internationally, is to translate content from your Website into their native languages. This practice opens many doors that you cannot access other wise and also sends the right message, that you care enough about this sector to have taken the time needed to communicate with them in their first (and sometimes only) language.
The 2009 US Census revealed that 21% of US Citizens speak a language other than English while at home. Research done by Common Sense Advisory has revealed that over 70% of foreigners prefer purchasing from a Web site that is in their native tongue over a foreign language site. With data like that it makes a lot of sense to start reaching out to the world with multi-lingual content.
How to get started
You may be asking, “How do I get started?” So, let me share some practical steps with you. A good place to start is by determining if the multilingual market is right for you. Start by looking at your user demographics. Check your Web analytics to discover what countries, other than your own, people are coming to your Website from. In Google Analytics you can generate a “language report.” Log in and go to Audience > Demographics > Language to see what languages your visitors are browsing in. See if one or two of the segments jump out at you with high numbers.
You can also get valuable demographics information about your local and global audiences from Quantcast.com and Compete.com.
The data revealed this way can help you decide if this strategy makes sense to pursue and also which foreign language speaking segments you should translate content for, then you are ready to proceed.
The next question that usually comes up is, “How do I translate content?” There are some good tools to help with this task. Although Google herself does not recommend publishing translations that are made by tools, she does provide a great tool to get started with and which you will find here at Google Translate: https://translate.google.com. With this tool you can enter text from nearly 100 languages and then select the one you want it translated too.
Another nifty translator tool is called Reshare which allows you to share content from the Web as text but translated into a varienty of languages. You can get the details about this application here: https://conyac.cc/en/translators/reshares.
The best way to get important content translated is to hire someone who is proficient in the target language. They can either rewrite the content or you can just have them proof and edit the translated content so that you do not miss the mark by failing to use the nuances of the chosen language which indicate to the reader if you had a tool do it or if there was a real person involved in the translation. This will have a big effect on the conversion of the copy.
How to publish multi-lingual content
Finally, you need to know “How you should publish translated copy?”
If you are on a WordPress platform there are plugins available to handle the task. Otherwise you can choose between publishing it in a sub-folder or in a sub-domain. Suppose you determine that you potentially have Spanish, French and Russian speaking prospects. Replicate your homepage into those languages. Be sure to put all of you vital contact information into that page and end the copy with a statement that they can continue reading your site in English and provide a link to your English Homepage. About 20 years ago, I read a study that had determined that people browsing directories and search engines in foreign languages are willing to switch to reading in English once they have read enough initial content in their own language.
If you publish in sub-folders you URL structure should look like this:
If you publish in sub-domains you URL structure should look like this:
If you do either, you will now be eligible to submit your translated pages into hundreds of foreign language search engines and directories that require the page submitted be written in the specified language. A good resource for finding these resource is http://www.searchenginecolossus.com/. This effort will expand your global reach, truly turning your Website into an international branch office and portal to your business online.
If you find that one of these translated pages is converting measurably it may then be worth it to invest in a top level domain with that country code, such as:
Some country specific TLD’s require that your business is in that country but most of them are open for this aggressive multilingual marketing strategy. If you would like to explore this further, a consultation with a International marketing or multilingual marketing SEO is advised also.
Many businesses currently enjoy great success with this type of strategy, discovering new local and international clients and consumers by removing the language barriers and showing that they also care about other than English speaking audiences.
Good luck in your International and multilingual marketing endeavors.