Do you have a great website design or high-end e-shop? That might not be enough for expansion

Did you put a lot of care into developing your domestic website, e-shop, or app? Have you invested a considerable amount of funds in complex SEO settings? Are you able to target your campaigns really effectively? Do you use relevant keywords to help increase organic site traffic? Perfect! You’re well on your way to achieving the desired results and becoming a successful e-commerce retailer.

However, if you plan on expanding into foreign markets and expanding your efforts to acquire foreign-language customers, then a standard translation likely won’t cut it. Every market has its own specifics and these must be taken into account when translating your content.

SEO for a foreign website is useless without localisation!

SEO (search engine optimisation) is a set of tools, procedures, and methods meant to optimise a website for search engines. By setting up the right SEO strategy, you can increase your site’s visibility and move it higher up in search results after entering certain keywords. It’s part of a wider group of SEM (search engine marketing) tools.

As part of SEO, you need to focus on a number of factors that a search engine evaluates in order for your site to rank higher in search results. For instance, Google monitors keyword usage, your site’s popularity on social media, the quality of the text on your content page and its relevance to your keyword phrases, backlinks, and the technical quality of your site.

Unlike with paid forms of promotion, SEO results don’t appear immediately, but gradually. If your optimisation strategy is well managed, this will help save you costs on promotion and image creation and increase site traffic. This will logically result in a higher sales probability for your product or service.

The same applies to translations of web pages for search engines in a foreign language. Aside from SEO, you must also incorporate the localisation factor very carefully if you want to break into a foreign market.

Some marketers separate localisation from SEO tools, but it’s actually an integral part of SEO when expanding to foreign markets. And it has a direct effect on a website’s success and on its attractiveness to foreign audiences.

If you want your text to be a marketing success, then it must be adapted to the culture and customs of potential clients in the target country.

The transcreator will still remain faithful to the source content’s main ideas, but through localised translation they will also adapt the text to match how the target audience communicates.

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What role do keywords play (in translations)?

Keywords play an important role, especially in terms of increasing organic site traffic. And it’s precisely keywords that will have a key impact on cost reduction and on increased profits from online business transactions. Because gaining a new client from organic traffic is the cheapest way to go. Running a successful online business without any form of financial promotion is perhaps every business owner’s dream. It’s true that in today’s competitive market, you’re less likely to get ahead of other e-shops or online service providers if you rely solely on organic traffic. And if you fail to work with the right keywords, your chances of getting ahead will plummet to virtually zero.

The most common mistake made by website developers, e-shop owners, and online content writers is that they consider keywords to be the ones they themselves would use when searching for a specific service or product. But in order to get truly relevant data, you need to perform a keyword analysis. A really good analysis takes dozens of hours, but the results will be worth it. During an analysis, SEO experts will use special software that finds suitable keywords based on the criteria entered and then assign these keywords exact values according to their monthly searches (e.g. Marketing Miner or Keyword Planner).

This procedure should be exactly the same when translating websites or e-shops. The fact that you have a well-designed website in terms of keywords in Slovakia or for Slovak-speaking clients doesn’t mean that it will be just as successful abroad or with a potential client in a foreign language. Keywords vary by region and language.

(!) Thus, when translating content into a foreign language, a new keyword analysis should be performed for a specific market or language. The copywriter should then incorporate these keywords into the translated content.

When the translation fails

If you think bad translations and faux pas only happen to restaurants and food establishments in the far reaches of the country, then you’re sorely mistaken. Now and then even the world’s largest global conglomerates will have a funny screw-up that got lost in translation. And when it comes to multi-million-dollar campaigns geared towards tens of millions of people, you can only imagine just how much damage a tiny little mistake can do. But who knows, maybe the creators behind these translation fails were inspired by old clichés that even bad advertising can come out successful :).

A few examples from recent history:

In Spain, the American Dairy Association released an interesting translation of their ad campaign. In the original ad, a likable girl poses with a milk moustache. But the slogan “Got Milk?” was translated into Spanish as “Are you breastfeeding?” The translation for American Airlines’ slogan “Fly in leather” also didn’t bode well in Mexico, where the airline was trying to promote their business class seats. Mexican businessmen understood the Spanish translation to mean “Fly naked.” But it seems no one was anxious to travel in their birthday suit ;). Rolls-Royce’s luxury Silver Mist model had a not-so-ideal entrance onto the German market. In German, “mist” means “cow manure”.

You’ll find other funny gems like these taken from bad e-commerce translations of international brands in this article here:

It's a dream come true for me to work for a company where I trust the people and the services 100%. Peter Drucker was right about one thing: "The best way to predict the future is to create it," which is why it'll be my pleasure to brief you on the future direction of the translation sphere as well as the hidden pitfalls of marketing.