Does your company have a website in other languages than your own? If not, maybe you should consider all the benefits that translating your website to other commonly used languages would bring. Having websites in both your native language and in English is a good start, but is it enough? You never know who might visit your website or want to contact you from other countries. Becoming at least somewhat international does not hurt nowadays, in fact it is essential, even if you plan to focus mostly on local markets.
You might think having a website translated into English is enough since almost everyone speaks English. Well, you would be wrong, since only around 28% of the 3 billion internet users speak and understand English even though 55% of the content on the Internet is in English. According to Common Sense Advisory 72% of consumers spend most of their time online browsing sites that are in their own language. These same people also acknowledged that to get them to buy your products you should have your website available in their language. In addition the European Commission’s analytical report shows that 90 % of Europeans prefer to use websites in their native language and 42% of these people said that they would never buy from sites that are not available in their mother tongue.
Benefits of multilingual websites
Translated websites and online shops are much better for building trust between the product/service provider and the customer than sites with a limited language selection. Multilingual websites should therefore be included in your business strategy; Customers want to be sure of what they are buying, so using a language that they may not understand sufficiently makes them uncertain and possibly turns them away from your website.
Having your website available in multiple languages is also a cost effective way to market your company. When people from other countries visit a nearby area they will most likely check websites of local companies and choose the place that has a website available in their own language. This may lead to new customers, especially if they plan to stay longer in the area. If, for example, you run a restaurant or a cafe in the area where travelers visit often and your website is available in their language, they are more likely to check your place of business and perhaps even buy something.
Most importantly, your company will have way more visibility in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. But keep in mind that these search engines are not default in countries like China, Japan and France. So, having websites available in multiple languages gives your website a higher chance of being found in other search engines as well.
Which languages to focus on?
The reason for English being the dominant language on websites is that Internet started on that language. Nowadays people everywhere around the world have access to Internet, so there are much higher markets available for other languages as well. Which languages should you consider then? 85% of the users in Common Sense Advisory and the European Commission’s analyzes speak one of these 10 languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, German, French or Malay. There are around 7000 languages in the world, but only 23 of them account for half of the world’s population. So, if you are a small or a medium sized company that plans to operate globally, you should only target around 3-5 foreign countries. For example if you are a Finnish company you should probably focus on Swedish, Russian and English languages in addition to Finnish, unless you plan to market your company on a wider scope.
The data collecting services, like Google Analytics, can be used to collect and analyze data about who and from where people visit your website. Based on this information you can focus on the specific countries from which most of the people that visit your website come from. But what if you do not know anyone who can communicate in the required languages? This is something you should consider when hiring people to make sure you have customer service and help desk available in those languages. If you do not have an online store and all your trade is physical only, then you need someone who is able to speak fluent English, in addition to the other required languages, for making sales happen.
No time or people to translate your websites? Here are some tips for you!
There are several ways to proceed, but also essential elements that you should take into account. You can hire a professional translator, buy services from companies that provide the necessary languages or hire employees that can speak and understand those languages. Having at least a couple multilingual employees is a big benefit with foreign customers.
Of course there is always the option of a free translation from Google, but that does not send a good impression to your target audience because in a lot of cases the translations via Google Translate contain errors or misspelled sentences. It will give an unprofessional impression to customers if they realize that your business is using the free albeit the most common translation tool available.
Human translations are always a better option since automatic software has not yet reached the point of being able to understand all nuances of languages. The vocabulary of these translation softwares is also still lacking, but there has been some improvements over the years. There are plenty of freelancers and companies that offer translation services for reasonable prices.
How to create a website with multiple languages
When choosing between website builders, pick the one that suits your needs best, and offers enough flexibility for you to easily combine different language options in one site, while maintaining the outlook and all information regardless of the website-visitors’ country of origin.
After all it is important to remember why we make websites at all. It is because we want the right people to find us, we want them to find whatever it is that they are looking for, and most importantly we want them to do what we want them to do. For example, we want them to see what we have on offer, to buy our products from online stores or to find the company’s address and contact information.
Once your company has a website and an online store, get them translated to other common languages in order to expand your potential customer base. Also, try to focus on bilingual or multilingual people when you hire new personnel. This will help you in the long run to get more customers, sales and most importantly visibility around the world. When people can understand your website they are more likely to buy and even recommend you to their friends and family. It is time to secure your foothold on the Internet and build multilingual websites.