Do you want to increase your web traffic?
The majority of Internet users don’t speak English as their first language.
Only 536.6 million users of the nearly 2 billion estimated Internet users rated English as their first language, according to a study completed in 2010.
This means that if you are only telling your story in one language, you are potentially missing out on hundreds of millions of users, some of whom may speak conversational English but not have a deep enough understanding of the language to lead to a sale.
That’s why applying a foreign language to your online presence can be such an important tool for reaching a broader audience and driving traffic to your site.
Translating your site or content into popular languages can give your brand truly global exposure. Or, if you know your services or products are particularly popular in a niche market, translation will show your customers that you care about them and respect their culture, which will in turn increase brand loyalty.
While these are beneficial in offering quick translations on the fly, they tend to translate text literally, losing the colloquialisms and witticisms that make your voice unique. This can make text feel unnatural and appear grammatically incorrect.
Since Internet users form an impression of a site they land on within the first 7 seconds, using a free translation service could be detrimental to your business. The phrase “you get what you pay for” applies to this, so spend the extra money to have your site translated by a person fluent in the language.
Let’s put this into perspective. Pretend you wanted to translate your site to Italian. If you took, say, the top travel search term in the US, “cheap flights,” and typed each word into an online translator, you’d get a literal translation of “a buon mercato” (cheap) and “voli” (flights).
In reality, the term “cheap flights” in Italian is adopted from English, so in reality you’d want the optimized term on your page to be “voli low cost.” A literal translation would be a waste of money and time to implement. These are the kinds of subtleties that free automatic translation services overlook.
If you are interested in saving money and have the time (and desire) to commit, do a little language learning yourself. Investments in popular programs like pimsleur French or pimsleur German will pay themselves back in the long run if it means becoming fluent enough to converse with customers in a way that maintains that authentic voice you’ve worked so hard to develop.
Most people turn to the Internet to find what they are looking for, whether it is something to purchase or information. Thus, making sure you appear on search engines is essential to driving traffic.
Sure, you can drive traffic other ways, such as through social media or partnerships with other sites. However, appearing in organic search results could mean a higher chance of conversion, because you will appear when the searcher is actively looking for your product or information.
So how do you ensure you rank well? Onsite factors—such as URL structure, site architecture, and content—are important to ranking well in organic search results. Now, imagine if you were doing this not only for English, but a foreign language(s) as well.
If you incorporate foreign languages into your site, chances are you will rank better for those terms. Better rankings for popular foreign terms equal more traffic, and thus more potential sales. Targeting these languages enables you to cast a wider net and capture the attention of visitors from around the world.
Furthermore, when the searcher comes to your site and sees it is in his/her native tongue, you will be able to more effectively lead them down the conversion funnel and get a sale.
Foreign Languages don’t just introduce a new way of communicating. They bring a whole new culture to the table. Thus, researching how natives communicate and interact above and beyond just language can offer new leads to driving traffic.
For example, not all cultures use the same search engines and social media sites.
While Facebook may be popular worldwide, sites like Orkut are almost as popular in places like India. Getting on the right site will not just expose your translated brand to a new audience, but it will also help you familiarize yourself with popular terms that will raise your site in the search engines and make customers feel like you are the kind of brand with whom it is easy to engage. Thus, research what other sites and tools your target audience uses to interact.
Language learning is an often ignored, but it is a powerful tool for driving more traffic to your site and taking your brand from being a regional to a global player. It’s a sure way to successfully enter the global marketplace and learn a fun new skill, too!
Adria Saracino is a language enthusiast, traveler, and freelancer. You can find her writing about style through her personal fashion blog or connecting with interesting people on the web as the Head of Outreach at a creative internet marketing agency.
Image Credit: unarmenia