We’ve all been to our neighborhood Chinese restaurant where the proprietor welcomed us warmly and handed us the menu wishing us an enjoyable meal. Imagine her greeting you in Chinese and handing you a Chinese-only menu. Then when you inquire about the English menu, they respond to you in Chinese. Would you stay? Would you come back again? That may strike you as odd and unlikely to happen. But we do it to our clients all the time.
Web Translation Common Sense
In 2008, 40% of internet users were from Asia and 26% are from Europe. We predicted back then that within 5 years, roughly 75% of internet users will have a non-English native language and that non-English language web content will not keep pace with international user growth. In 2007, Asian content accounted for less than 15% of the total web content.
In 2016, 50% of internet users are from Asia and only 18% are from Europe! English speaking users constitute only 12% of internet users worldwide, yet over 50% of content on the web is still in English!
With online purchases exploding around the world, offering your products over the web in English-only, when you are selling internationally, is like that restaurant proprietor offering his US clients a Chinese-only menu. So how are global internet users dealing with this bias towards English and does that create a challenge or an opportunity for global companies?
Multilingual Organic Search
Most users today, when searching for information or services online, either search the web in their native language or use English. First, they search in their native language for obvious reasons. After submitting the search, results can be limited and often do not lead to satisfactory information. So they try a search in English with their varying English skills. When they search in English, their search results are abundant but often confuse them as many don’t have the adequate language skill to enter the correct keywords or to understand the found content. So they turn to Machine Translation to automatically translate content into their native language.
Machine Translation Limitations
Although Machine Translation can give users the gist of the meaning of the content, the quality is at times laughable, may be embarrassing and often frustrating. Global corporations that offer English only content, are losing control over brand, image and messaging when they rely on inadequate machine translation technology to communicate with their international users, clients or prospects.
Think about the message that you will be sending to your potential clients when you refuse to communicate with them in their own language. If they require further support, return the merchandise, or if they are not very satisfied with your product, they will have to communicate their issues to you in your language as opposed to theirs. This will create further complications and frustrations and will dampen repeat business opportunities increasing the cost of new client acquisition.
Search Engine & Keywords
Furthermore, when you rely on Machine Translation, you forfeit all potential leads generated from organic searches. Prospects that are searching for your services on the web using their own languages will not find you because your keywords in their language are non-existent on the web and therefore cannot be indexed and served by search engine websites like Google, Yahoo or Microsoft. You cannot achieve globalization without website globalization!
Benefits of Website Translation
By professionally translating the key pages of your website, you will not only regain control over your company’s brand internationally, but you will also improve your global search-engine ranking, increasing your chances to be found on the web and increasing international clients’ loyalty.
- Localize your web pages into the languages for the markets you are selling into. Depending on your global marketing plans, you can decide on the extent of localization to undertake.
- Optimize your website’s keywords and key-phrases for each strategic geography on the most prominent search-engines. Keywords are the DNA of your website. Don’t rely on machine translation; hire professionals to help you do it right. It is worth every penny you spend.
- Encourage your local staff to contribute in their native language with press releases, blogs and local events content. International users can then search and find these pages, which will then lead them to the rest of your website and services.
If your company has a global vision, ask yourself these two simple questions: Do all of your target markets understand English? Is your Web site multilingual?
If you answered “no” to both questions, you are not alone. You are just like the majority of the companies that have a presence on the Web. Being able to answer yes is being able to say you have a competitive edge— and that you really have a presence on the World Wide Web. So, geo-optimize your website to globalize your business. Because after all, the language of business is not English; it is the language of the customer.
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