Bewords.com is glad to present a guest article written by James from Skyscanner, on the difference between Translation and Localisation and how this can make a big difference for your online business.
After BBC's article "Parlez-vous business?" appeared on the newspaper's web page on june 2011. James Cave tells Bewords more about his thoughts on Translation and Localisation according to his experience with Skycanner.
Like many folks, I spend a lot of my time online and if there's one thing that's guaranteed to drive me crazy, it's shoddy content. Misspellings, terrible grammar, pages that have been poorly translated, all of these things are likely to make me leave a site in moments. While I'd say that overall, most online businesses are on their way to being web savvy these days – the net certainly has higher standards than it once did – there are still plenty of clangers out there, and in the travel industry especially.
It's easy (well, easier!) to optimise your site for your own country, but if you're selling holidays, hotels or tours to people from all around the world, you really need to broaden your appeal, as we've found out. I've lost count of the number of times I've clicked on a link to an interesting sounding destination or hotel, only to click away again instantly, frightened off by the badly translated and barely understandable copy.
And then there are all of the links I didn't click, because they never appeared in my search results. Why is that? Because the companies have only optimised their pages to target commonly reached for terms in their own country, and not in mine. Any company who's looking to have a global audience must consider the way this audience speaks, the languages it uses and the different ways people construct sentences. This is the difference between 'translation' and 'localisation'.
When entering another market, many companies will simply get the pages on their website translated. There can be some problems with this approach however, as it completely ignores how some countries search. To understand this, you not only need abasic knowledge of the language and a keyword research tool, but market research into the market and people.
Take'flights to New York' for example. Worldwide, this is one of our most important terms. If you look at our NewYork page (within the English-speaking market) the page is optimised for 'flights to New York'. Within the Hungarian market however, the term we're focusing on is 'New York airplane ticket'.
It wasn't easy to work this out. If you're serious about working in another market it's not enough to pay a student a few quid to translate your pages word for word, you need market insights and a proper understanding of both the language and how people in that market use search engines. Working things like this out can really help you make sure you're not missing out on willing customers.
The occasional misspelled word or nonsensical sentence may not seem that important to you, but believe me it is. Trust is really crucial for all online businesses, and when websites look poorly maintained and are full of copy errors, trust levels plummet. Be sure to not only check your site for mistakes in your own language, but always employ someone to help you do it in all other languages you use too. Firms should always invest in a reputable translation company when they are creating pages for other languages, and some keyword research will go a long way in helping you discover whether you're using the right words for your audience.
Don’t miss out on all of the potential offered by the foreign language internet, invest in your content from the outset.
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