How to Translate and Localize Your Blog
By Rylie Holt
Blogs have come a long way from their humble origins as people’s personal weblogs. Now they’re an essential part of many businesses and commercial side ventures, thanks to the ways in which we’ve learned to monetize them.
One way to increase your blog’s reach is to expand into a new country or demographic that speaks another language. While translating and localizing a blog can seem daunting, it can be a fairly painless process if you take care of the right details when it comes to finding the right translation services and localization expertise to provide the functionality that you need in the required language. The tips below should help you achieve precisely that.
Find Out Which Languages Are Best for Translation
Your first step is to decide which markets you want to expand into. If the product you offer doesn’t speak to the demographic in the new language, investing in translation services alone won’t pay off in the long run. For instance, if you offer a local service for landscaping and there is not a large Spanish-speaking population in your area, it doesn’t make sense to translate your landscaping blog!
There are various questions to consider when working out which languages are worth translating your blog into. If you offer a service in a certain locale, for example, which languages are spoken within the area in which you work? You can often find out this information from language maps or local governmental sources, like census pages.
If you have a very active second or third language in the area, that could mean reaching more customers and showing you care enough to learn their language. In these instances, the language you use will vary from state to state. Mapping languages in the US, for example, shows that German translation would work well in many areas.
Next, consider whether your blog covers topics that are of interest to people in other markets. A blog covering a local sports team might not have much reach outside of its original area, for instance.
If your blog offers a product, on the other hand, consider whether you have the internal resources to sell that product in other countries or markets. You’ll need to determine if that product has demand in the target language if it is legal to sell in that area, if you have the set-up to navigate between different currencies and whether your company can provide appropriate customer service in that region.
Your website’s analytics tools may provide some answers here. You can find out which regions viewers are from and which languages they are viewing the website to better assess your translation need.
Use Professional Translation Services
Once you’ve done the hard work of narrowing down which language you want to translate your blog into, it’s time for the actual translation.
If you’ve been running your blog for years and wish to translate all of your content, this will be no small task. It’s good practice to update a blog anywhere from three to 15 times per month, so as well as having quite a back catalog of content, you’ll also need to put plans in place to translate updates regularly.
It might be tempting to use digital tools for language translation services, especially since many blogging platforms come with translation tools and plugins. However, it’s often all too apparent when a site has been haphazardly thrown into a digital translation tool. The language can feel stilted, idioms don’t quite translate and you can find some truly comical errors.
As such, it pays to invest in translation services that will keep your site sounding just how it should, no matter which language the reader is viewing it in. This is especially important for blogs since blogs tend to be a bit more informal in their style and tone. They can contain more metaphors, direct cultural references, and slang – even in some business blogs – so that they better connect with their customers through a more casual format. These elements are harder for machine translation to handle, so decent human translators can make sure these linguistic elements are transferred into the new language.
Remember Localization Services
It’s not enough to simply translate the text of your blog. You should also keep an eye on localization. What is the concept of localization? This is the overall process of making sure a blog (or website, or other product) fits a specific locale or market. The translation is one part of that process, while localization can also include updating graphics, adjusting the layout of the website to fit the new language, and converting content to local needs, such as new currency signs and measurements. Localization can also involve tasks as diverse as updating contact information so that it meets local formats and making sure a product meets local legal requirements.
With all these working parts, it’s important to keep in mind that adjusting a blog for another market doesn’t just stop with the copy. The whole site, including the graphic overlay, may need to be updated to fit with the cultural expectations of the target audience.
Many translation services also offer localization, so it’s important to check with any translation company you’re considering working with on how it handles localization.
Quality Checks for Translation Services
You should make sure your newly translated blog undergoes some form of quality check. Translation services may provide this step, with a second linguist checking over the completed product, so be sure to check this when considering which translation agency to appoint.
You might also want someone internally to look over the new blog content if you have someone who natively speaks the language you are translating into. Alternatively, you can source beta testers to make sure the website navigates and reads well.
Making a Website Easier for Translation Services
While you’re writing your blog content, you may want to keep a few tips in mind that make the blog easier to translate further down the road. These can reduce headaches for translation professionals, move the blog through the translation process faster, and reduce time in testing.
While you shouldn’t sacrifice the overall quality of your blog as you write, some points to keep in mind for a multilingual blog include:
- Keep sentences short and avoid too much obscure vocabulary that could be hard to translate.
- Since your blog is for multiple markets, avoid references that only local people would understand, like mentioning local athletes or political figures.
- Watch out for cultural idioms, like “a dime a dozen” or “pulling someone’s leg,” which can be tricky to translate directly.
Following simple rules like these should help with the overall translation process and ensure that your blog resonates beautifully with its target audience(s).