If you want to go international is translating your website, product or service step 1. Even if English is your default language, it's a wise idea to expand on the offered languages. In This article you will read why and what you have to take into account.
Before adding a new language
Check what opportunities there are for your service or product on the market of the language you want to add. Other than English, many languages are linked to just one country. On Google people prefer to search in their native tongue and will not click on a link that is not readable for them. If you offer a service/product in the native tongue of a potential customer, makes the customer trust you more. For many people it also contributes to user-friendliness and makes it more personal.
Remember that virtually every possible target country has millions of inhabitants. By adding an additional language your potential customer group becomes a lot bigger, be prepared for that.
English doesn’t cover everyone
Sometimes people forget that not everyone in in the world speaks or understands English. Even in many European countries is the ability to speak or understand English under 60% such as in France or Germany. To fully cover these markets, adding the native language is a must. By only having an English translation you will not be able to reach the everyone.
On this map you can see that a surprising low number of countries have English as their official language.
A reason often given for avoiding other languages is that not everyone has a Frenchman or German in his company for whom translating is not a problem. Luckily, If you want to add a language that you can’t add yourself then there are many translation services like Transferendi or Simplytranslate that can do this for you. Avoid Google translate at all times since in many languages the sentences become awkward to read and illogical.
Imagine visiting a site that offers the service or product you need, however the text is unclear and full of spelling mistakes. This causes suspicion and you will probably also look at other providers who better describe the service or product on their site before you proceed to a purchase.
When you add a language to your site it is to be expected that you will get questions in this language through your contact channels. Many companies respond in English but it is more professional when you respond back in their language, this contributes again to the trust between your company and the potential customer. Also make sure there are no spelling mistakes in the response.
If you want to expand on foreign markets, it is useful to employ an employee with a good set of language skills. Large companies open their next office most of the times in the country where they have the best position on the market depending on the service or product they offer.
Stay ahead of your competition
Be sure to get a position on the foreign market of choice as soon as possible on Google because if you won’t, your competitors will. Companies that offer multiple languages are more reliable as they have to be representative in multiple markets at the same time.
Image & ambition
Important is that the quality of offered services and products are equal in every country for your international image. With multiple languages you can build up an image faster. Having a stable position in all markets is important for potential shareholders. Adding languages shows that you have ambition and are ready to break through on new markets.
SEO is your friend
In every Country SEO is super important for your website. Make sure your website is displayed correctly when you search in the language you've added. Advised is to add a new language until the SEO for your start language is perfect.
If you are very ambitious and want to expand to Russia or China, you should learn how the SEO works on their search engines. Baidu is the most popular in China and Yandex in Russia. This article will teach you how to create the best SEO URL’s.
More languages is more content
Everything you add to your site is content including languages! A correct translation requires effort, time and maintenance. For example, every article at Rixels is translated to English. This has to be done with each new article and takes time. The effort we put into it is really worth it as after translating our articles are visible to millions more and is extra content for the people who view our site in English.
Never remove languages from your site unless you want to completely withdraw from a specific country market. However, even that is unwise because it affects the SEO for searchers who have emigrated to another country and do still search on the web in their native language.
Keep it organized
Make sure the language switch button is easy to find on every page of your site. It is recommended to have the button at the top right of the site, this is the case on most multilingual websites. The moment you offer a lot of languages it is a good decision to create a separate menu/tab for this. Sometimes websites place the flag of the country in which the language originated from for extra clarity.
Rixels currently only has English so we chose to keep it as simplistic as possible:
This is an example of site offering many languages. Neat and clear, just 1 look and you will see your language:
Providing multiple languages is always profitable in the long term. Every day, new potential customers from different countries are looking for the service or product you are offering. Always continue doing market research to see what adjustments you need to make to break through on a foreign market. Each new language contributes to your status as an international company
Now you know why offering multiple languages is important. Depending on the amount of content on your site, the time you will need to translate may vary. At Rixels we have recently translated our own site and articles and notice that we are being found more by people outside the Netherlands, people who might be reading this article right now!