The world is more globalized than ever thanks to the Internet. People around the world expect content to appear in their native language, be it Swedish, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Hungarian, or anything in between. If you’re trying to expand your business into new markets that speak other languages, it is crucial to translate your website into the corresponding languages. In this article, we will discuss the process of website translation and localization.
Why do I need to translate my website?
The first question that we should answer is: Why should I bother translating my website? It’s a fair question, and the simplest answer is: It helps you sell to your customer by speaking their native language and consequently grows your business in new international markets. Some might say that having your website in English is enough because this language is spoken worldwide. However, this is generally not true — here are some numbers for you:
- According to a Common Sense Advisory report, 75% of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase goods and services if the product information is in their native language.
- 87% of consumers who don’t speak and can’t read English won’t even buy from an English website.
- 57% of consumers have said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price.
- 74% of multinational enterprises believe that localization is either important or most important if you want to increase revenue from global operations (according to data from California State University, Chico).
You can read our article on localization ROI to learn more on the topic, but in general we can say that website translation is important for any international business.
What should I consider when translating my website?
Importance of localization strategy
Before you translate a word of your website, you need to think about your entire localization strategy. Localization and translation are often used interchangeably, but they mean very different things:
- Translation transforms text from one language to another.
- Localization transforms the entire product or all content from one language to another. Localization covers both linguistic and cultural adaptation.
Your localization strategy refers to the overall plan for how you’ll adapt your offerings, messaging, and content to new countries and markets in a way that aligns with your brand. A localization strategy considers each market’s language, culture, and social norms to determine the best expression of your messages. These messages, distributed through your website, application, social media, or any marketing campaigns, can then better resonate with customers and prospects — wherever they may be.
Simply put, if you want your international visitors to find your information relevant, prevent any confusion (or worse, offense), and enable them to make a purchase, you need to localize your webpages. Actually, this is an important thing to keep in mind. Ultimately, you’re localizing not to make your chief happy, and not for the sake of reaching some arbitrary targets. You’re doing it to make your customers’ lives easier and enable them to more easily understand your product and buy from you.
Most teams organize their process in two different ways:
- Waterfall localization, which adds translations only after the webpage is completely live.
- For more complex websites, agile localization syncs the localization process with the website development process so they both operate simultaneously. This allows for more efficiency and flexibility when it comes to your localization workflow. It is also more relevant when you need to ship new updates frequently. Nevertheless, it can be more complex and require dedicated localization engineers.
Goals and objectives of translation
Additionally, you should aim to define your goals and objectives at the start of your website translation project. In other words, what are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to reach specific numbers or rates? Are you going to translate all pages or assets? Or perhaps translating the key pages would suffice. As noted above, we’re not performing translation just for the sake of implementing it. We will discuss this point more later in this article.
Translation method and quality
Next, what is the preferred translation quality? You can hire a professional linguist, a native speaker, or simply use a neural network (we’ll discuss machine translation later in this article).
- A professional linguist specializing in the target region will deliver top-quality work while taking the cultural specifics into consideration, but the resulting price might be quite high.
- Asking a native speaker (perhaps even a company employee) might also do the trick. However, if the person is not a professional translator, they might not be able to properly convey complex messages or they might not be aware of certain linguistic specifics and peculiarities.
- Machine translation is the cheapest and the fastest solution, but, at the same time, the quality could be very far from ideal. In other words, you should find a balance between quality and cost depending on your needs.
When translating your website, you’ll probably require transcreation services. Transcreation is a mix of translation, creation, and copywriting. Therefore, you take an existing text and transform it into something that conveys the same message, but has cultural references more relevant to the target market for which it was translated. The piece is not recreated word for word but rather recreated with a focus on intent and how that message will be received in a different market.
Physical product localization
There’s also the specific case in which your product is a physical thing rather than some kind of software. If you plan to sell this physical product in a new country, the question is how do you localize it? For example, your product might have controls, complex manuals, and documents with specifications. Are you planning to translate all of these? Most likely you will because it’s very important for the end user, but in that case you’ll need a specialist who can properly convey all the technical terms.
Another key matter is legal considerations, which can vary widely between countries and regions. For example, if your company specializes in gambling, you’ll probably need to do some additional research to understand what the regulating laws for this field are in the target region. The same applies to certain finance tools like cryptocurrencies that still have vague status in many countries, cigarettes, and alcohol. For instance, some countries do not sell alcohol to anyone under 18, whereas in places like Japan the restriction is 21.
Last but not least, decide what languages you’ll be translating your content into. This may seem obvious, but it is still very important! We’ll discuss this in more detail later.
Who will actually translate my website?
That’s a good question as well. In general, it boils down to two options: paying a language service provider (LSP) or performing in-house translation.
An LSP is usually a translation agency, which will do almost everything for you provided you’re ready to pay the bill. They will assess your requirements, research the current state of your website, provide recommendations, and then translate the content for you. If your company has enough budget to cover all the expenses, you don’t want to assemble a translation team, and you need experienced professionals to do the work, this is the safest bet. There are many LSPs out there — refer to our blog post to learn more about some popular language service providers.
If you are feeling adventurous, and would like to fully control all translation aspects and do it in your own way, then in-house translation is the best choice. However, keep in mind that this is the DIY approach. In this case, you’ll have to assemble the translation team yourself and maybe even make some complex decisions. You can read more about localization teams in our free e-book.
If you stick to the latter approach and the company does not have enough capacity for translation work, then you’ll either need to hire new people or find freelancers to do the job. You’ll probably need to fill the following roles:
- Localization engineer — this is a crucial role and I’d really recommend finding an experienced professional. Localization engineers facilitate the entire localization process. They bridge the gaps between engineering, project managers, vendors, and linguists to make sure your product works seamlessly in every target language.
- Localization project manager — another important role. Ideally, you’ll need someone who has already worked in a similar position to avoid any unwanted surprises. Managers execute the organization’s localization strategy on a tactical level and progress translation projects from start to finish.
- Translators — you’ll need someone to do the translations, duh! It should preferably be a professional linguist specializing in your chosen language pairs, but it could be a native speaker instead. Even if you are planning to rely on machine translation (performed by neural networks), giving the result a human review is still recommended — it’s mandatory for high-visibility pages. Question is, where do you find translators for the project? Because chances are your company does not have full-time linguists. Perhaps, the simplest way is contacting a third-party company that provides such solutions (e.g., Gengo) and asking them for assistance. Alternatively, you can scout out professionals on freelancer websites. In this case, make sure that you’re hiring a linguist with the proper experience and expertise. Finally, you can use Lokalise; our service enables you to create professional translation orders with just a few clicks. You just select what to translate, what provider to use (hire Lokalise translators, order from Gengo, or use a neural network), choose the target languages, and wait for the order to complete.
- Localization quality assurance tester — this role is significant as well but can probably be executed by your existing QA engineers. Effectively, localization QA testers ensure everything is working well from a localization perspective. You can learn more about localization testing in our blog.
- Developers — if your website is not ready for translation, your developers will first have to properly implement internationalization, which might be a complex task on its own. Also, developers need to support the translation process at all stages as needed.
- Designers — if you’re planning to localize visuals, then having a designer is a must. Some visuals might need to be adjusted whereas others might need to be remade from scratch.
As you can see, with in-house translation you fully control the process, which has both benefits and downsides. On the one hand, you can achieve an impressive result that covers all your needs and requirements. On the other hand, you have to control all aspects of the translation process and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
Lokalise enables you to effectively manage your project, organize team collaboration, hire linguists, set up quality assurance and automation rules, as well as set up integrations with third-party services and designer tools (like and Figma or Sketch). This way, you can concentrate on the important tasks while we do all the heavy lifting for you.
Can I use Google Translate machine translation on my entire website?
Many people ask whether it’s possible to use a solution like Google Translate to do all the work. To answer this question, let’s briefly talk about machine translation in general.
There are a few machine translation solutions out there, with the most popular being Google Translate and DeepL. As the name implies, machine translation (MT) is a process involving some kind of algorithm to perform translations automatically rather than hiring a human specialist. On the one hand, MT does have its benefits: it’s very fast, very cheap, and it supports many languages, including those you might never have heard of. Nonetheless, there are negative sides that you should be aware of. First, the translation quality might not be ideal, especially when translating long and complex texts with many specific terms. Second, MT engines won’t be able to properly adapt slogans or jokes for the target country or region so it’s really not recommended to translate those using MT. Third, if your text has complex markup elements, MT could unintentionally break them. And fourth, MT engines might have limitations related to the length of the translated text.
Taking these considerations into account, the short answer to the question above is: “In most cases, you can’t”. But there’s an addition to this answer: “You can still use MT to significantly speed up the overall process”. Keep in mind that MT is a tool that should be properly utilized. You cannot open Google Translate and say: “Hey, get all my website content, translate it into five languages, and then import it into my CMS!”. At the very least, you will still have to export the text to translate, provide it to the neural network to chew on, validate the result (preferably, with the help of a linguist), and then export that text back, making sure that it displays properly.
The good news is you can alleviate some manual work by using a translation management system (TMS) that will do the heavy lifting for you. For example, Lokalise enables you to build custom localization flows that greatly simplify the process of using neural networks and subsequent quality assurance checks. Currently, we support Google Translate and DeepL as translation providers (you can place an order to translate all the chosen data), and additionally Microsoft Translator as an inline solution (it can be used when editing a specific translation value).
Please note that here we are not talking about using a tool like Google to simply translate the chosen page on the fly. Of course, your customers can follow this path to get a quick and dirty translation, but:
- It will be imperfect at best
- Certain page elements and markup might break.
Therefore, to ensure solid quality, you should provide multiple language versions instead of relying on such tools.
How much might translating my website cost and how long will it take?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question as it will depend heavily on what you are translating, into what languages, and who will do the translation. However, you can find a pricing overview in our blog post. On average, human translators charge around $0.22 per word, which means that translating a 2500-word article (which is not actually that lengthy) will cost $550. Some language pairs are, of course, more expensive than others. One of the cheapest pairs is English -> Spanish, while some other languages are considered to be more “expensive” (like, Japanese or Chinese). This means that in reality you might need to pay anything from 10 cents to $0.50 per word. Translation and editing is, of course, more expensive and will cost around $0.30-$0.40 per word.
In terms of speed, it significantly depends on the text length, its complexity, and its specialization. Very roughly speaking, it takes 2–3 days for a translator to complete a regular 2500-word text and up to a month to take care of a large user manual with 30k–40k words. Basically, don’t expect that everything will be done instantly; the end result is worth the wait.
If we’re talking about neural networks, the prices are very different: around $0.001 per word or $20 per million characters. Moreover, you won’t have to pay anything for a shorter text. The turnaround is minutes or even seconds, which is of course very impressive. Problem is, these texts will probably have to be reviewed by a professional and once again this can take anything from hours to days and weeks.
How to translate your website in 10 steps
In this section, we’ll discuss the common steps that should be taken when performing in-house website translation. If you’re outsourcing the whole of your website translation project, then check out some of the questions a translation agency might ask you at the start of your project. You can also learn more about translation services and effective collaboration in our blog post.
So, let’s discuss ten important steps that you’ll likely need to complete to successfully translate your website.
1. Decide which languages you want to translate into
As mentioned above, you should choose the languages to translate into. While this may sound like a simple task, in reality the choice might not be that obvious. Of course, in theory you could just translate your service into a dozen languages to support as many countries as possible. While you could do that, the question is, would it be feasible? Would it be profitable?
Ideally, you should do extensive research and understand what customers are really visiting your website. What countries are they from? What are their preferred locales? Based on this data, you’ll be able to determine which languages to support.
If you are planning to expand into a specific region or a country, of course your website should support the most widely spoken languages in that area. Problem is, sometimes there are numerous languages spoken in a single country. In that case you’ll need to understand what the dominant ones are. For example, in Russia there are nearly 200 ethnicities that speak dozens of languages. At the same, time only six of the ethnicities have a population of more than one million so that’s something to consider. Or take Papua New Guinea, for instance: There are literally hundreds of spoken languages and of course it’s impossible to support them all even if that sounds like a fun idea.
So, the bottom line here is: Choose a country or a region that you would like to support, identify your audience, and then pick a couple of the most widespread languages in that area, unless you have very specific requirements.
2. Decide what website pages and elements need localization
This is a very important step and I’d really recommend pondering on it.
Do you want to provide general information about your services in the customer’s language? Or do you want to fully localize every aspect of your website, including images and videos? It’s tempting to localize everything, but the cost might be too high for you while the overall impact will be minimal. Thing is, if someone simply wants to buy some goods from your website, they’ll mostly care about proper translations of the goods’ titles, descriptions, and shipping information. They won’t care much about the less important page elements, like fancy banners and promotional videos. On the other hand, if you have a hefty budget and would like to make a very good impression on visitors, why not properly localize everything?
You should remember that images and even colors can convey a very different message to people of different cultures. For instance, did you know that Buddhists (e.g., those living in Japan) consider white a symbol of death? Also, Japanese people believe that red repels evil spirits and that’s why their temples are painted this color. Europeans consider red to be a “strong” color related to important notifications, danger, and even blood. Therefore, excess use of red can cause a negative experience (not to mention that it can quickly cause eye strain). There can be many unobvious specifics and the question is, are you truly ready to invest time and resources into exploring and adapting to them?
Here’s another example: Suppose you have a corporate blog with English-only posts. What should be done about it? Are you going to translate all the blog posts, leave them as is, or, perhaps, hide a link to the blog for non-English versions of the site? The same applies to social accounts aimed only at English-speaking users. You can either leave everything untouched, hide these links, or start new social accounts in the corresponding language. Of course, the latter approach is the most complex and expensive but it could potentially result in nice benefits.
You should also think about localizing the following elements:
- Emails sent to your customers.
- Advertising campaigns.
- Support assistance and documentation — this can be a complex thing to do, especially providing live operator support in multiple languages. Luckily, Lokalise allows you to translate incoming and outgoing support messages on the fly with the help of neural networks. We have support for popular solutions, including Intercom chat, Zendesk support, and others.
3. Scope out your tooling and personnel
To get things done, we need proper tools, right? At the very least, you’ll need the following:
- A tool to track translation progress.
- A solution to create, edit, and manage translations, import and export files in various formats, and, perhaps, set up translation exchange with third-party services like GitHub or Contentful.
- A way to perform basic quality assurance.
You’ll certainly also need people who will put these tools to good use. We’ve already discussed who’ll most likely join the translation superhero team. Now you just have to understand who needs to access to which tools. For instance, the project manager will probably take care of assigning tasks and tracking progress, whereas developers can deal with translation file exports and setting up a GitHub integration.
Ideally, you’ll want a solution that combines all the described tools to enable synergy. Thus, many teams adopt translation management systems (software that supports management and automation of the translation process). It helps to organize the translation workflow, track the progress of translation projects, and reduce manual tasks via automation.
Specifically, Lokalise allows you to manage all the translation files in different formats, assign and track the progress of the translation tasks, set up automations, perform QA, facilitate content exchange with third-party services, and more, thus enabling you to lower localization costs. If you’d like to learn how exactly Lokalise looks and works, and how it can help you solve most of the common problems, please request a demo. We’d be happy to chat with you!
4. Plan your project timelines and budget
As we’ve discussed, there’s more to localization than meets the eye and you might spend lots of time polishing all the text and visuals. Of course, with infinite time and resources one could deliver an ideal result but, after all, we live in the real world so we have to set realistic goals and time frames, and agree on the available budget. This is key to avoiding so-called scope creep, which results in much more time and money spent than initially anticipated. In other words, you should aim to deliver a working and usable solution even though it might not be 100% perfect on the first go.
5. Be mindful of proper internationalization tools
This is more of a technical matter that should be tackled by your localization engineer and developers, but it’s still worth mentioning. As you likely know, there are numerous technologies that we can use to build a website. We can stick to plain old HTML and CSS to create simple pages, we can rely on traditional content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, we can use a headless CMS like Contentful, or we can craft complex services with front-end or back-end frameworks, like React, Vue, Django, Rails, and many others. The sky is the limit!
What’s crucial is that every piece of technology needs a proper way to introduce internationalization, which, in turn, enables localization. You might be wondering, what’s the difference between internationalization (i18n) and localization (l10n)? Aren’t those two terms similar? Well, in reality they are not. Internationalization is the process of designing and developing your software or mobile application so it can be adapted and localized to different cultures, regions, and languages. Localization is the adaptation of your software, website content, or mobile application to meet the linguistic, cultural, and other requirements of each locale.
It will depend significantly on the chosen technology, i.e., what i18n solution to use. Therefore, we’ve prepared a collection of developer-oriented how-to tutorials covering many popular libraries and plugins for different languages and frameworks. Below, you’ll also find some examples of how to start translating your CMS content with Lokalise. Please note that we support many other third-party tools and services, and you can find detailed documentation at docs.lokalise.com.
Displaying the locale code in the URL
You should also think about one more important point: How and where are you going to display the current locale code? Usually, there are four approaches:
- Use a “subfolder” with the locale code, for example
http://example.com/en/about. This is very popular and perhaps one of the best approaches, at least from an SEO perspective. It will probably require some additional work from your developers but this is a one-time effort.
- Use a subdomain to point to the corresponding language, for example
http://en.example.com. This approach is a bit more complex because your engineers will have to set up additional subdomains but it’s still more elegant and more common than the first option. With this approach, users can easily understand what website version they are currently browsing.
- Use top-level domains, for example
http://example.de. This is the most expensive approach as you’ll have to purchase multiple domains in different zones. If you support, say, ten languages, then the price for these domains can be relatively high. Thing is, domains can cost anything from $5 to $100+ (and up to thousands of dollars) and the desired name might already be taken in some places. Therefore, this option is the fanciest one and there are not many companies that choose such a solution.
- Store the currently set language in a special GET parameter, for example
http://example.com/about?locale=en. This is the simplest and cheapest solution but frankly not the most elegant. This
?locale=part will have to be added to each and every link, which makes them look a bit ugly. Still, this approach is found on some websites.
6. Translate your content into the new languages
Indeed, this is the main part of the whole project! Your translators will start working on the provided content but the question is, how do you organize the process? If you are using a tool like Lokalise, everything should run smoothly. This is because you can invite your team members to a project by entering their emails (or sending a join link), provide the content to translate, and then track the progress.
In general, the process involves the following steps:
- Content is provided to translators. Lokalise enables you to easily upload translation files in many different formats (JSON, XML, PO, YAML, SRT, XLSX, and others). Translation keys and values will be extracted from the uploaded files automatically and presented in a graphical user interface. Moreover, you can provide additional context for every key by adding comments and screenshots.
- Translators start working on the content. Theoretically, you can simply send translation files back and forth (using a regular email), but things can become hectic—fast. That’s why we recommend using a TMS to control the process. Alternatively, you can use a solution like GitHub, or even a combination of a TMS and Git (Lokalise has support for this scenario as well).
- Some professionals prefer using offline translation tools that they are accustomed to. This is not a problem as a good TMS like Lokalise enables offline translation. This means files can be imported and exported to/from offline translation software.
- Another specialist reviews the result. This step is not mandatory but still very much recommended, especially for high-visibility content. This way you’ll ensure that the text does not contain any weird errors or incorrect phrases.
- Content is exported back to your application. Once again, Lokalise enables you to export translation files in many formats and allows adjustment of other options. These include how the content should be structured, what to include in the download bundle, what to do with untranslated values, etc.
But what should you do if your content is not stored in translation files? That’s actually a common problem—let’s discuss some routine scenarios:
- Your content is stored in a CMS and there’s no easy way to organize this content into files. In this case, you should either give translators access to your CMS or use a TMS to perform content import and export. The previous section contains instructions for some services, but Lokalise supports other content management systems as well.
- You don’t have a website yet and the content is stored in design files (e.g., Figma or Adobe XD). In this case, you’ll need to somehow extract your texts from the design files and provide them to your translators. Lokalise has ready-to-use plugins for Figma, Adobe XD, and Sketch. These extract translation data for you, create all the necessary data in the TMS, and can even auto-generate screenshots based on your design.
- Your texts are hardcoded into the app itself. In this case, you should return to the previous section and ask your developers to implement internationalization first! After all, you probably don’t want your translators to modify the source code files directly!
Finally, how can you translate text on your images? Well, preferably, you should store these images in design files like Figma or Adobe XD because, as explained above, it will be easy to extract translation data with a Lokalise plugin or a similar solution. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible as in many cases you won’t have access to the image source files anymore. In this case, someone will have to extract the texts manually, store them in a file, and send the file to the translators. Finally, your designers will have to recreate a new image based on the translations.
Let’s also quickly discuss the steps involved in translating some of the most popular website types. If you are interested in learning more, please check out our documentation, which has instructions for other platforms as well.
How to translate a WordPress website
WordPress remains a popular option (60% market share!) for website hosting due to its adaptability and ease of integration with other types of technology, and its familiar interface. If you’re using WordPress, you can exchange posts and pages with Lokalise through our WordPress plugin. It lets project managers select WordPress content that they want localized and send it to Lokalise for processing. Then it can be pulled back into WordPress when it’s ready.
To translate content from your WordPress website via the Lokalise plugin:
- Create a Lokalise account if you don’t already have one.
- Install the Lokalise plugin from your WordPress admin page.
- Install the WPML plugin that makes it possible to manage multilingual content on WordPress. Please note that it is a third-party solution not maintained by Lokalise.
- Proceed to your Lokalise project, find WordPress in the Apps list, and connect WordPress to Lokalise by copying the authorization key in WordPress and entering it in on the setup page. You’ll also need to provide your site hostname.
- In your Lokalise project, you’ll see the different content that’s available for translation (e.g., posts, pages).
- Choose which content you want to import to your Lokalise project (for instance, pages) and choose “Import selected” to import strings.
- Translate as you would in any other Lokalise project.
- Export the translations to WordPress to populate your additional language.
For a detailed explanation of how the integration works and how to set it up, take a look at our WordPress integration tutorial.
How to translate a Contentful website
If you’re using Contentful for your website, you can easily integrate directly with Lokalise.
To translate the content on your Contentful website:
- Create a Lokalise account if you don’t already have one.
- Connect Contentful to Lokalise by navigating to the Apps page and finding the corresponding integration in the list.
- Once you authorize the connection, the list of spaces and relevant content types will appear. Select and import the required content types for further translation.
- Click the “Import selected” button to confirm the specific sections of the page that you want to translate.
- Then, you can add required languages and perform translations as you would in any other Lokalise project.
- When the translations are done, select the items you want to export to Contentful and click the “Export selected” button. The selected languages will be updated in your Contentful project.
For a detailed explanation of how the integration works and how to set it up, read through our how-to guide.
Translating your Zendesk website
Zendesk is a popular option for support documentation, help articles, and managing customer support tickets. Lokalise integrates with Zendesk Guide, which allows you to export and import posts from Zendesk to Lokalise for translation and vice versa.
To translate your help articles in Zendesk Guide via Lokalise:
- Create a Lokalise account if you don’t already have one.
- Connect Zendesk to Lokalise by navigating to the Apps page and finding the corresponding integration in the list.
- Click “Connect” again for your subdomain and enter your Zendesk subdomain (for example,
mycorp_support). Then, allow Lokalise access.
- Once you authorize, the list of sections, categories, and articles will appear. Select the required items and press “Import selected” to import the chosen content for further translation.
- Translate as you would in any other Lokalise project.
- When the translations are done, return to the app page and select the items you want to export to Zendesk. Next, click the “Export selected” button.
For a detailed explanation of how the integration works and how to set it up, take a look at our Zendesk Guide integration tutorial.
Translating Intercom Articles
Intercom Articles is yet another fairly popular platform for hosting documentation. Lokalise provides an easy-to-use integration with Intercom that allows you to import and export posts in seconds.
So, to get started with translating Intercom Articles, perform the following steps:
- Create a Lokalise account if you don’t already have one.
- Open your translation project, click More > Apps, find Intercom Articles, click on it, and then press Install.
- Review the requested permissions, and click Authorize access.
- Choose the items (posts, sections, categories) to import. After an item is imported, its contents will be available in your Lokalise project.
- Perform translation as usual.
- Once you are ready, return to the app page, choose the items to export, and click “Export selected”. That’s it!
For a detailed explanation, check this official guide which explains how to translate your Intercom articles.
Translating your website with a live WYSIWYG editor
To translate your webpage with this in-context editor, paired with Lokalise:
- Create a Lokalise account if you don’t already have one.
- Prepare your site for translation with translation files containing key/value pairs.
- Include Lokalise LiveJS script at the end of your HTML.
- Adjust Lokalise LiveJS script parameters.
- Expose the key names in HTML. Depending on the
plainKeyparameter you have set when initializing the snippet, you either need to wrap the translated text in any HTML element with the
data-lokaliseattribute and set the
data-keyattribute, or just expose a wrapped key name.
- Translate by editing the HTML directly.
- Once a translator is done editing a translation (and hits
⌘/Ctrl-Sto save), Lokalise LiveJS will automatically update the respective translation in Lokalise.
For a detailed explanation of how the plugin works and how to set it up, take a look at our LiveJS plugin tutorial.
7. Localize your SEO
If you want your new translated website to succeed organically in search results, you’ll want to translate the key SEO elements of your webpages.
- URLs — this is the Uniform Resource Locator that appears in your browser’s address bar. Translating this and including the correct translated keywords will help your ranking for that page.
- Meta title — this is the text that will appear in the search results and which users can click on. You’ve seen it before, it’s the blue links on Google. Including the correct translated keywords can help your rankings while also making your link attractive to users. The meta title is contained in <title> tags in the <head> section of your webpage. It has a 55–60-character limit before truncation occurs in the search results.
- Meta description — this is the description that appears below your meta title link in the search results. While this is not a direct ranking factor and Google sometimes chooses to show content from your page instead, it can be a good place to tell the user what value your page provides. The meta description is a meta tag that’s included in your page’s HTML <head> section and starts to cut off in the search results at around 160 characters.
- Alt tags — these are tags for your images that tell the search engine what an image is about. They help your images to rank in image search.
- Internal links — on your new translated website, make sure that your internal links are pointing to your new international pages and not the original language version from which you started. This will help search engines discover your new international pages. This is particularly important, as one of the main ways search engines discover new content is via internal links. If they can’t find the content via links they might not rank it.
- Hreflang tags — if you’re targeting specific countries with your new language versions, you’ll want to add hreflang tags for all the pages that have international equivalents to signal to search engines which pages you want to rank in which countries.
- Sitemaps — these are lists of all the pages you want a search engine to discover. Be sure to create additional ones for your new websites or include your new website URLs in your existing sitemaps. New sitemaps should be submitted to Google via Google Search Console.
- Schema markup — this is a snippet of code that includes content for search engines to read and can sometimes improve the visibility of your search result listing. If you have schema markup on your pages, translating its content on your new pages can potentially help your traffic and click-through rate. Check out this page from Google on the different search result features that schema markup could win you.
If you’d like to learn more, take a look at our in-depth guide on how to succeed with international SEO.
Translate and localize your keywords
Including keywords in the right places, like your meta title and H1, can improve your rankings. Thus, it’s important to ensure that you’ve translated and localized your keywords to ones that people actually search for in your new markets. Don’t overdo it though, as unnaturally including your keyword too many times can be penalized as keyword stuffing. Sometimes directly translating your existing main keywords won’t result in a keyword that users in your new market are searching because they might phrase their search differently. So, if you want your website to succeed in the search results it’s worth getting an SEO consultant to help you localize your keywords by doing keyword research for your new markets.
8. Launch your new translated website
Once everything is translated and double-checked, it’s time to get rolling! Of course, the actual deployment process will vary depending on your technology stack, but you’ll probably want to notify your customers about the newly added language support and even launch a marketing campaign to attract new visitors.
Before you set your newly translated websites to live, adding tracking to measure performance is key. Google Analytics 4 is free and can give you insights into traffic/user behavior. It also allows you to set up conversion goals with monetary values attached to them, enabling you to start to get a ballpark figure on whether your new sites are generating positive ROI. Additionally, you’ll want to create Google Search Console accounts for your new websites to see what keywords they are ranking for organically.
Here’s a video on How to set up GA4, and the documentation for getting started with Google Search Console.
Installing website tracking and enabling Google Search Console will help you to understand whether your new websites are meeting your expectations in terms of the goals you set at the start of your website translation project.
9. Analyze the performance of your new international sites
After your new websites have been live for a while, it’s time to analyze their performance to see if they are doing as well as initially expected.
Here are some key metrics to track following the launch of your websites:
- Incremental sales in the locations covered by the new languages.
- SEO keyword rankings.
- Market share — is it increasing as a result of the localization?
- Translation costs.
- Page views — compare website page views before and after translation. As a result of good localization, you’ll start seeing an increase in the number of visitors from the target market. Depending on the form of the content you localized, this can also be video views, article reads, etc.
- Conversion rates — see how many people who visited your site purchased the product or service prior to localization and afterward.
- Social media engagement — measure engagement, and track content shares and mentions of your brand on social media in the target market.
- Customer support cases — when you localize your product for a specific location and publish knowledge base articles in the relevant languages, you’re very likely to notice a decrease in the number of support cases from those languages.
10. Maintain and keep your new website up to date
So, your website is running smoothly and a new market is conquered—great job! But, believe it or not, your journey has only just begun. In the future, you’ll probably need to add more elements or pages to your website and update existing texts and visuals, as well as add support for even more languages! That’s where the continuous localization comes in: basically, l10n should become an integral business process rather than an afterthought. Continuous localization originated from the CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery) approach, which is a subset of the Agile methodology. It also raised this need for this one fully autonomous, uninterrupted translation job. It is when new code is being pushed constantly and the software is ready for release at any time during the development cycle.
In practice, this means even quicker releases that can happen multiple times a day. For localization, there are even smaller and more frequent batches of never-ending translation work, and more automation to avoid interruptions. Continuous localization is the perfect Agile localization workflow for Agile software teams that constantly ship a lot of updates and releases.
To enable continuous localization, you can take advantage of the following tools:
- API — An application programming interface to facilitate content exchange between your website and a translation management system.
- Webhooks for notifications about the recent updates made to your translations. This way, your website can be automatically updated with all the recent changes without the need to do it manually.
- Automations to apply certain actions to the new or updated translations. For instance, you can pre-translate newly added texts using neural networks.
If you’re using Lokalise, you can take advantage of all these tools and more (how about creating custom processing for all the imported and exported data?). To begin, you can check out documentation and tutorials on our Developer Hub, which also contains the API reference and the API playground.
So, in this article we thoroughly discussed all aspects related to the website translation process. We have covered preliminary steps and things to be aware of, and have seen some important action items to complete. Now you are ready to apply this knowledge in practice and implement translation for your own service! If you have any further questions on the Lokalise translation management system and how it can boost your localization workflow, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I thank you for staying with me today, and until next time!
Huge thanks to my colleagues Peter O’Callaghan and Valentyna Kozlova for providing useful insights.