Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Got website? Globalising?

According to Common Sense Advisory, more than 50 percent of Web users who purchased online buy only at Web sites where the information is presented in their language. (Going from Simple Translation to Successful Transactions on Global Websites, Common Sense Advisory, March 2007).

Here are the top tips to consider for translating Web content from Mark Tapling of the Language Weaver:

1. Pay attention to the content type

Every content type has an audience, a value that it serves for the business, and a value that it serves for the audience. Because of this, different content has different requirements for translation.

  • Some types of content – like advertising material – are highly influential and need to be perfect, thereby requiring human translation.
  • Other types of content - like documentation - need to be near perfect but don’t require the same nuance as other types of content; this type of content can be served up with translation software and post-edited by a human reviewer. (Maybe!)
  • Some content - like knowledge bases and FAQs - simply needs to convey facts (but needs to do so quickly); automated translation software from Language Weaver can be effectively leveraged for this type of content. (Oooops! Can't judge the leverage.)

When looking to start or add additional translation, take a look at the content in your organization and consider other translation options to cost-effectively translate the information while still meeting the needs of the business and the audience.

2. Match the translation cycle to the business need

Some types of content only need to be updated and translated every time a new product or service is introduced, such as product documentation, marketing material and product oriented Web content. Other types of content should be translated as soon as they are written, such as bug fixes, FAQs and knowledge base articles, in order to save on ongoing support costs for known issues.

3. Don’t forget about search

When updating Web content, think about how users will find that information if they speak another language. Search is how most people will find information, so keep in mind that content needs to be translated to make it searchable in a visitor’s native language. Some sites pre-publish all translated content to make it visible to search engines, others don’t. Companies that don’t translate content up front are subjecting their site to an unreliable user experience delivered by a free translation plug-in. In theory, this can work, but remember that free translation sites aren’t trained to understand your brand voice and terminology so there is risk built in when putting translation in the hands of free translation.

4. Maintain control of your brand

Whether you use human translation, post-edit output from translation software or use automated translation, brand and term management is something that is crucial for a growing business. Your company has likely spent a lot of money on its brand, so you don’t want it to be at risk when expanding into new regions. For example, what should your product name be in Chinese or Japanese? How should you describe a particular experience with your product or service in another language?

Identify the brand voice you want to maintain, key product names and references, and company terminology up front so that you know how they should be represented in other languages. Working this out ahead of time also helps any translation project go smoothly and lets you maintain more control of your brand across languages.

5. Use the "NOTRANSLATE" tag

A site owner can control content by ensuring proper tagging of the information. While there are several page-level tags available to exercise this control, the most exciting one was recently added by Google. At the page level, site owners can now add a tag called “NOTRANSLATE.” This tag is interpreted by the crawler as a “do not translate” instruction. By setting the “NOTRANSLATE” tag, you ensure that Google’s automatic translation is not offered as an automatic option to anyone performing a search – especially for those pages or parts of your site where you want to make sure YOU, the site and brand owner, decide what the translation should look like without handing over control of the translation to Google’s algorithms. (My favourite tag of the year, that one!)

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

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