Should You Translate Your Blog Posts or Commission Articles in Other Languages?

Jan 21, 2019

Article ImageAs more organizations choose to market their brands overseas, website translation has become high on the priority list. Sadly, many businesses mistakenly believe that preparing content for a global audience is as simple as translation. But straight translation doesn’t necessarily work for every language, even with expert localization services applied. As such, this article will consider when it might be more appropriate to commission bespoke articles in other languages.

When to Commission Bespoke Articles

If you want your content to reach a global audience, then the use of translation and localization services can do much to help you reach your goals. However, there are also times where even the best translation and localization services won’t be enough. If the message you wish to convey needs to be presented in an entirely new way, it’s time to engage a professional writer who is a native of the country you’re targeting. Here are three examples of when you might need to do so:

When the Values of the Target Culture Are Very Different Than Your Own

The world is home to an amazing and complex array of codes of conduct, values-based legal systems, and degrees of morality. Western culture is considered by many to be very open. From a societal standpoint, we often take a “no holds barred” approach to content. However, the freedom of expression that we take for granted is not always appropriate (or even legal) in other countries. As such, a simple translation could destroy the reputation of your brand in these markets and even get you into serious hot water with the local authorities.

For example, if your company sells swimsuits or lingerie for women and your ad copy has product descriptions that say things like “show off your beach body” or “this sexy thong is sure to get his attention” you are not going to do well in countries that are more modest about sex, or where showing off your body is frowned upon. The same goes for displaying images of these products. If you are determined to break into a foreign market where these things are taboo, your translation method will need an entirely different approach (as will your products). You may need to consider adding a line of beach cover-ups, modest swimwear, or beach-going attire that is more in line with your target audience. Any blog posts that you’ve written about the clothing line would then need to be written afresh for the target audience, in a way that meets that audience’s cultural expectations. This bespoke content would convey an entirely different message, while website images would also need to be modified to meet the needs of the more conservative audience.

When a Culture Expresses and Displays Emotions Differently

In China, and many other countries, expressing love for an object is uncommon. In the West, our liberal use of the word “love” is an accepted element of marketing parlance. However, it can be puzzling to many other cultures. “Oh my God, I LOVE this pizza,” or “you’ll just LOVE this perfume” doesn’t always translate well. As such, if your content is mostly emotion-based, the translation will need to be altered considerably to become relevant to another culture. Often, commissioning a new blog post in a different tone is preferable in these circumstances – the end product tends to flow better and sound more natural than a translation that has been altered to try and shoehorn it into a different culture’s expectations.

When You Need to Utilize Multilingual SEO

A third reason to commission bespoke articles in your target language, rather than use translation, is the same reason that businesses commission them in their native languages: your keywords need to enable users to find your website. Not every country uses Google, and SEO practices in your target country need to be understood and employed if you want consumers to find you among your already established competitors.

Both search methods and the terminology that people use to search for products can differ tremendously in other regions. Optimized digital content is built around keywords. However, those keywords may not rank well when translated. As such, it’s important to sit down with your chosen translation agency and find the perfect keywords for each target language. Armed with these keywords, it is a good idea to commission content in other languages, rather than try to translate and keyword-stuff your original content. Search engines these days expect more than this!

Using Translation to Help Commission Foreign-Language Articles

Of course, deciding to commission foreign-language articles doesn’t mean you won’t need translation. On the contrary, using a translator to help you source a writer in the target language, agree on keywords, and proofread the writer’s work, is an essential part of the process. After all, how else would you know what was really being said in the blog posts that you have commissioned?

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