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In an earlier December blog, we gave pointers on how to “increase your revenue with translation for e-commerce”. We touched on which languages you should translate to help you make the most of the global business opportunities out there. In this blog, we’ll dive deeper into which languages you should prioritise for your website content, and look at the budget and technology implications behind your decision-making. We’ll also give you our thoughts on what research you should be doing to keep you on the right track.
We may not be quite as far-reaching in the universe as they are in Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That said, our metaphorical business worlds on Earth are expanding and colliding more than ever. Never before have companies been expected to support so much content across so many languages. According to Research and Market’s 2018 Globalization Report Card, the average number of languages supported by the 150 best global websites is now 32. So how do you decide which language translation services you’ll need for your business?
Clearly, cost will be a major factor. And the more languages you choose, the higher the cost. However, not all languages cost the same. The price will vary depending on the number of native translators. For example, a Hebrew translator will cost more than a (European) French translator.
This is where it’s important to involve key stake-holders across your business when deciding on which languages to support. You don’t want to find yourself in the position, for example, where you’ve decided to support Chinese and Arabic without considering the technology implications. Arabic (and Hebrew) run from right to left, so you’ll need to make some changes to your page layouts, including which side of the page your graphics and illustrations are placed. Plus, you’ll need to find out if your content management system (CMS) supports these languages.
To help visitors find you quickly and easily (for SEO), we recommend that you set up new web domains for each translated language. Check out this blog: Translation and URLs. A guide to domain structure.
Before you decide on the languages that are best for your business, you need to find out about your customers and competitors. Four key questions to ask are these:
NB, don’t assume that because you’ve had no visits from, say, Japan doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be interested in buying for you. It may be because you don’t yet have a Japanese version of your website. Bit of a Catch 22.
The UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that by the end of December 2018, more than half (51%) of the world’s population will have Internet access. However, just because a country has a large number of Internet users, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they have the spending power.
As far as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) goes, the usual suspects dominate the top 10. They are the US, China, Japan, Germany, UK, France, Brazil, Italy, India and Russia. Next in line come Canada, Australia, The Republic of Korea, Spain, Mexico, Indonesia, The Netherlands, Turkey, Saudia Arabia and Switzerland.
However, things start looking at bit different when you work out what this means in terms of an individual person’s spending power.
Twice a year, the IMF ranks countries according to their spending power per person. The PPP takes into account the relative cost of living and the inflation rates of countries compared to living standards amongst our different nationals. As you can see in the table below (which ranks countries that have a GDP per capita higher than $45,000), the countries that dominate the top 10 all have small populations.
Clearly, though, Internet penetration is higher in some countries than others, which you may also want to factor in to your calculations. Here are the top 50 countries with the highest internet penetration rates.
Here’s a sample of the kind of statistics that can also help when choosing your languages:
If you’d like some advice on language translation services for your website, please get in touch – we’d love to help.