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How to translate a website - 5 ways to get the best results

Updated: Jun 5, 2023


A laptop displays the language switcher to select between English and Italian
In 2015, the British Internet personality, entrepreneur and digital marketer Neil Patel did a case study and translated his website into multiple languages, seeing a traffic increase of 47% in only 3 weeks.

If you’re a business looking to attract customers from around the world, then having your website translated is key. Whether you want to target speakers of German, French, or Spanish, you need your website translated in order for potential customers to understand it.


In this article, we’ll cover how to translate a website using either machine translations or a professional native translator.


Why you should consider translating your website


Translating a website into multiple languages can be highly beneficial for businesses. With the globalization of the world economy and people from different countries having access to the same content, localizing a website for each language is essential. Translating your website into multiple languages will enable you to reach out to a wider audience and gain increased visibility. This will allow you to enter new markets and give customers the chance to interact with your business in their own language.


Moreover, providing content in multiple languages gives customers the assurance that they are receiving accurate information, addressing their needs more effectively and increasing their confidence in your business. By translating your website into multiple languages, you’ll also create a personal experience for customers, as it reduces cultural barriers and helps them navigate through pages seamlessly. Additionally, it increases customer satisfaction, engagement and loyalty as well as improves sales and conversion rates for businesses.


# 1 How to translate a website using Machine Translation


Machine translation (MT) can be a good option if you need to quickly translate a large volume of text or document. While the translations will not be perfect, they can provide a general overview that may help in certain situations. Additionally, MT is usually less expensive than using human translators, so it is often used for budget-related reasons.

  1. Identify your target languages and countries. Consider which countries you want to reach and create a list of languages accordingly.

  2. Familiarize yourself with translation technology tools like Deepl, Google Translate, etc., that can help streamline the website translation process.

  3. Separate your website design from language content - create an XML file to hold all of the English language words and phrases used on the site and have them replaced with their respective translations as needed.

  4. Review the translated versions to make sure everything is correct before implementing them into your website layout - this will help reduce potential errors or inaccuracies associated with automated translations in particular that could affect user experience negatively down the line.

  5. Publish the translated versions online after making sure everything looks good - double-check all links are working properly, webpages appear correctly on different browsers/ devices, etc., before pushing them live.


# 2 Translate your website using translation agency


When it comes to translating a website, hiring a translation agency can be beneficial as they have the expertise and resources needed to provide accurate, culturally appropriate translations. A translation agency is also able to simultaneously translate multiple languages and help you reach new markets quickly and cost-effectively. A translation agency will be able to find the best professionals depending on the industry required for translation, which is key when your website has specific needs and requires a specialist in a certain field such as medicine, law or simply someone who can provide appropriate localisation by engaging in a transcreation of the content.


Furthermore, a translation agency can make sure that text formatting remains consistent throughout all translations – something which is often overlooked but essential for an effective website.


  1. Choose a professional translation agency: Once you have identified the source language, research and select a professional translation agency that provides high-quality services.

  2. Separate your website design from language content: create an XML file to hold all of the English language words and phrases used. This will need to be handed over to the translation agency.

  3. Provide all details: Be sure to provide all relevant information such as target audience, context, purpose of the content being translated, required style, etc. to ensure maximum accuracy.

  4. Set up your timeline and budget: Decide how much time you need for completing the project and set an appropriate budget for it according to the amount of work involved.

  5. Quality check and delivery: Once your translations are ready the translation agency usually provides a quality check before delivering your translations.

  6. Publish the translated versions online after making sure everything looks good - double-check all links are working properly, webpages appear correctly on different browsers/ devices, etc., before pushing them live.


# 3 - Use crowdsourcing


Crowdsourcing can be a cost-effective way to translate your website. You can use platforms like Upwork or Freelancer to find freelance translators who can translate your content for you. However, you have less control over the results and you might need a few Quality Assurance layers to ensure that you're getting the expected results. However, this might be an option for certain businesses and individuals that can't afford the services of a professional translation agency.


Crowdsourcing allows you to leverage the power of the crowd to accomplish the task, saving time and money while ensuring accuracy and relevance. Here are the steps to follow to use crowdsourcing for website translation:


Determine the scope of your project: Before starting the translation process, you need to determine which pages of your website you want to translate, which languages you want to translate them into, and the timeframe for completion.


  1. Select a crowdsourcing platform: There are many crowdsourcing platforms available online, such as Upwork, Fiverr, and ProZ. Choose a platform that suits your budget, quality requirements, and project scope.

  2. Create a job posting: Once you have selected a crowdsourcing platform, create a job posting that clearly outlines the details of your project. Include the number of pages to be translated, the source language, the target languages, and the expected timeframe. Also, provide any reference materials or style guides that will help the translators understand your requirements.

  3. Set a fair price: You should set a fair price for the translation work. Keep in mind that the more complex your website is, the higher the price should be. Consider offering bonuses for quality work, meeting deadlines, and exceeding expectations.

  4. Select qualified translators: Choose translators with experience in the target languages and the subject matter of your website. Review their profiles, ratings, and previous work to ensure they have the skills you need. Consider requesting a sample translation to test their abilities.

  5. Communicate your requirements: Once you have selected translators, communicate your requirements clearly. Provide style guides, glossaries, and other reference materials to ensure that the translations are accurate and consistent.

  6. Monitor the progress: Keep track of the translation progress and provide feedback to the translators. Check for accuracy, style, and tone to ensure the translations meet your expectations.

  7. Proofread the translations: Before publishing the translations, test them thoroughly. Check for errors, inconsistencies, and cultural differences that may affect the user experience.

  8. Publish the translations: Once you are satisfied with the translations, publish them on your website. Make sure to credit the translators and provide a way for users to report any issues or errors.


# 4 - Choose the right tools to translate your website


There are many factors to consider when you decide to translate your website. Some popular Content Management Systems simplify the process of translating a website and using all the technical requirements properly by introducing translating features, tools or plugins.


Translation plugins can be a convenient way to translate your website, especially if you're using a CMS such as WordPress. Some popular translation plugins include WPML, Polylang, and Weglot, which offer automatic translations and manual editing. Find a list of other tools and plugins you can consider below:

  1. WPML (WordPress Multilingual Plugin): This is a popular plugin for WordPress that allows you to translate your website into multiple languages. It offers a range of features, including translation management, multilingual SEO, and support for different translation methods.

  2. Polylang: This is another popular plugin for WordPress that allows you to create a bilingual or multilingual website. It offers a simple interface for managing translations and supports automatic translations using services like Google Translate.

  3. Weglot: This is a cloud-based translation service that offers a plugin for a variety of CMSs, including WordPress, Shopify, and Magento. It uses machine translation to automatically translate your website, and also provides a user-friendly editor for manual editing.

  4. Transifex: This is a localization management platform that offers integrations with a range of CMSs, including Drupal, WordPress, and Magento. It provides a range of tools for managing translations, including a translation memory, glossary management, and collaboration features.

  5. Bablic: This is another cloud-based translation service that offers a plugin for a range of CMSs, including WordPress, Shopify, and Wix. It uses machine translation to automatically translate your website, and also provides a visual editor for making manual edits.

  6. GTranslate: This is a plugin for WordPress, Joomla, and other CMSs that uses Google Translate to automatically translate your website into multiple languages. It offers a range of customization options, including the ability to edit translations.

One more thing to consider is adding a language switcher to your website. A language switcher allows users to select the language they prefer when visiting your website. This can be achieved by adding a dropdown menu or flags that represent the different languages. Some CMSs, like WordPress, offer built-in language switchers.


# 5 - Keep SEO in mind


SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and if you're reading this article, you're probably familiar with this practice. Considering and planning your website translation should definitely have SEO in mind, even from the beginning and the planning stages, where you'll want to check search volume opportunities, competitiveness and other factors that will help you understand which languages and keywords are the best fit for translation.


Once your translations are finished, you might want to "localise" your content to make it more relevant and you will also want to optimize the translated versions of your web pages with relevant keywords and phrases in the target language. It's also important to select translation language tags that indicate the language of each page to search engines.


The quality of your translations will have a direct impact on your website's rankings. In this article, Google's John Mueller explains that bad-quality translations can decrease the rankings of the translated content, but may also affect the website's SEO as a whole. According to Mueller, a low-quality translation can "pull down the good quality translation as well or the good quality original content that you also have".


Conclusion


Whether you choose to translate your website or not it is important to note that machine translations don’t always provide an accurate translation of a website. When it comes to website translations, accuracy is key – so relying solely on automated services could cause confusion and lead potential customers away from your site. Professional translators are not only familiar with the target language, but they also understand the nuances of translating websites and have experience working with different content management systems.


So if you’re looking to expand your customer base by making your website available in additional languages, hiring a professional translation service or agency is the best way to do it. They’ll ensure that your content is accurately translated while keeping the same tone and style across all pages. Therefore, when considering how to translate your website, it may be worth exploring the option of working with a professional translation agency.


Do you need help with your website translation? Contact us today!


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