How do I translate my website site into English?
Learn how in 6 simple steps!
If you are reading this article, you probably want to learn how to translate websites into English. This article focusses on translating French websites into English using WordPress, but of course the tips can be applied to other languages and other CMS systems too.
There are many ways to make it happen. Here we will discuss some of them to help you make the right decisions and raise some points that you may not have thought about.
Ready to learn how to translate websites into English? Here goes!
# 1. Identify your target audience
Before you translate your website, you need to identify which English speaking countries and which English speakers you are targeting. You may want to ask yourself:
- Are you targeting a particular English-speaking country, a specific region or aiming for a more international reach?
- Would it be better to use British English, American English, Australian English or a regional dialect?
- Does your English customer have the same interests as your French customer?
When you translate your website in English, you are doing it to make your website accessible for your target audience. It is also a good idea to create a persona (a fictive profile of your target customer) for your new market to help identify cultural similarities and differences that might influence your content so you can really target their needs.
# 2. Choose a good domain name
What makes a good domain name? A good domain name should be short, easy to spell, and memorable. It should also be unique and representative of your brand or company so that people will recognise it when they see it.
When choosing a domain name for a multilingual website, you should consider how it looks and sounds in French, in English and ideally in all the languages spoken by your customers to ensure that there are no bad connotations associated to it that you were not aware of.
You will also need to consider whether it is better to opt for a French name, an English one, one that is inspired from another language, or an invented one. This question is debatable and will depend on your principles, brand, and strategy.
If you decide to opt for an English brand and/or domain name, it might be a good idea to get a transcreator involved in the process with you, especially if you do not have a native English translator on your team. If you opt for a French brand/domain name, remember to run it past your translator to get their feedback.
Finally, this is less common, but you might even decide that the best option for your business is to create a separate brand name and separate website for each language or country you operate in. This solution is only preferable if you want separate entities for your business.
# 3. New domaine Vs Multilingual website
Before translating your website, you need to ask yourself is whether you want to create a bilingual/multilingual/multiregional website or whether it would be better to create a new one, with a separate domain in English.
Maybe it is better to create a new website?
If you already have a .fr address for your French customers, you may want to consider opting for a .co.uk address for your UK customers.
The main advantage of this method is it makes your business seem ‘local’. The content on each website will be more targeted and country-specific and you will not feel obliged to translate pages that are not relevant.
You might also want to consider this option if your domain or company name is not English-friendly or if your offer is not the same across all markets.
The main downside to this method is that you will have two websites to manage, possibly more if you expand into other countries.
…Or a multi-lingual website?
The alternative is to opt for a multilingual website, with a dropdown menu and country flags indicating that your website is available in French and English or in multiple languages.
This is the easier option with regards to website management as everything is in the same place; you have one website with one user interface, and one Google Analytics account.
Also, from a user perspective it is easier to find the translation if required.
And finally, from an SEO perspective, a good translation of your website in English can also help benefit your rankings in the search engines.
If you want to create a multi-lingual website, you might want to consider using a .com address for a wider reach globally (e.g., for export or global service providers). For local-based businesses with the aim to attract international visitors to France both the .fr and .com extensions are fine.
# 4. Choose a multilingual plugin
If you opt for a multilingual website, you will need to make your website translation ready. To make a multilingual website with WordPress, there are several plugins for this.
At Moc Digital, we use Polylang. It is easy to use, and the good news is that they offer a free version, which offers everything most websites need. There is a paid version too if required. And the developers of this plugin are French! A popular paid alternative that you might also like to consider is WPML.
Warning! Don’t be tempted my automatic translation tools or plugins which are to say the least, far from perfect. Poor translation is not helpful for visitors to your website and can damage your brand reputation as well as your SEO rankings (SEO ranking refers to the positioning of your website in Google).
# 5. Do some keyword research
Keyword research is one of the most important things that you should consider when translating your website. The aim of keyword research is to work out what your users are likely to type into Google (or any other search engine), to find your website, your products or your services. It’s therefore a major part of any international marketing strategy.
Your keyword research needs to be specific not only to the language but to the market you are targeting. When you are creating your website in English, you should consider for example, whether you would like to target customers in the UK, the USA, Australia, other English-speaking territories, or for English speakers in France.
Don’t be tempted to simply translate your list of French keywords into English. Some may be the same, others may not.
An international SEO agency can help you with your keyword research as well as other aspects that influence your SEO performance. Remember to communicate your list of keywords to your translator so they can optimise the translation.
# 6. Find a website translator
Writing for the web is different to writing for print, especially if you want to drive traffic to your website. It’s a specialised discipline that combines translation, localisation, transcreation, marketing and SEO knowledge. Make sure you work with a native English SEO translator to ensure a quality translation of your website and its performance in the target language.
Remember to translate every part of your website, including menus, meta descriptions, images, and URLs. For consistency, in an ideal world you should make every page in available in English, however in the real-world budget and value are also important. It is a good idea to put all cards down on the table with regards to your budget so your translator can adapt their offer.
Prioritise the translation and ensure that you are investing on what is most relevant to your business. Ensure the translation of your website is an investment with clear objectives, not a waste of time and money. Consider which pages bring you the most traffic to your French site (if you already have one) and whether this information is of interest to your target audience.
In website translation, quality is important so don’t be tempted to try to do a quick translation of everything badly. You will have better results if you translate and optimise your website step-by-step with clear objectives (unless you have the budget and manpower to do everything at once). An international SEO agency can help you define your objectives and dive into the statistics to make this priority list.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that a website is never finished. Talk to your translator about your needs moving forward (page updates, product descriptions, blog articles etc.).
Do you have a translation project that you would like to discuss? Would you like some help translating your website into English?
If you found our article on how to translate websites into English helpful, or if you have any questions, feel free to leave your comments below: