The buying power of global audiences is no joke, and there is a reason why many US-based retailers are including both website translation and search engine optimization for multilingual sites in their budgets for 2010. In today’s economy, you simply can’t ignore potential audiences — including native speakers of other languages within your own borders!
For instance, in the US alone, there are over 43 million Hispanics with a purchasing power of more than $800 billion a year, and almost 16 million of them are on the Internet. Impressive numbers like these have driven companies like Best Buy to launch Hispanic American sites. Blue Nile and Yves Saint Laurent are also taking steps to reach consumers in other languages.
Take note, however, that you should avoid choosing the language for your visitor; they know what they prefer and should be able to choose it from a dropdown language menu. Automatic redirects to particular language sites may put you at a disadvantage because they cause frustration and that could decrease your site’s effectiveness, says SearchEngineLand. Just because someone lives in Quebec doesn’t mean they prefer French over English. The same is true throughout the United States, where many foreign language speakers might appreciate the option of choosing their own language or English.
Here’s something else to consider when it comes to website localization. You as a retailer may never have even intended to sell your products abroad, but the international nature of the web has put your products or services in front of those global audiences. There are a large number of non-English speakers who will purchase goods from English-language sites despite the language barrier, observes 1upDigital.
So why translate your website? If they are buying from you already, why invest in localization?
It’s all about upping that number of incoming traffic and increasing conversions, writes SEO Translator. There are common sense factors, of course, like the nature of the new markets and the current traffic data. But here are some questions to ask yourself when considering website localization:
How many additional users do you expect to gain by localizing your site? (Try to be conservative or at least realistic).
Now, imagining a conversion rate similar to your existing site, how much money will those users mean to you? And what percentage of that income would be your net earnings?
If the cost of the translation is greater than or even similar to your expected net earnings in one year, then you might want to rethink localization. If, however, your expected net earnings are several times the cost of such translation and associated work, then you are losing money by not localizing, so you should probably get started!
One more note about website translation: take SEO into consideration while you are coming up with your strategy, not after. Some companies think, why not just hire a bilingual SEO specialist afterwards to come in and clean it all up? But why pay twice? Look for a translation agency that can not only perform the translation but that will also make sure it is optimized correctly in the target language.