What you need to know about website translation and hreflang tags

What you need to know about website translation and hreflang tags

There are many reasons why you might be considering having a website multilingual.

You might be thinking of expanding your audience and saw that you could do it by making your website multilingual.

There's quite a lot of research regarding users being more responsive to websites in their mother tongue. CSA Research reported that 40% of online customers said they wouldn't buy from a website not in their native language. Even those with strong English proficiency, about 60% said they still preferred having customer care in their native language.

This article will discuss certain aspects you'll have to consider when creating a multilingual website like Hreflang tags. We'll also feature other things you should know when you're planning to translate your website and your options when deciding on the kind of website translation services that will maximize your global outreach to gain more prospects and customer engagement.

Now, let's get down to it!

What are Hreflang Tags?

Moz stated that hreflang tags are these (rel= "alternate" hreflang= "x") which informs Google that the language you will be using for a webpage. It also helps Google recommend your website to native language speakers based on what language you placed in your hreflang tags.

Google began using this tag in 2011 to make it easier for search engines to find alternate languages in multilingual websites. The hreflang tag signals Google that a user that speaks this language like Italian can easily find similar content.

So going back to that example, if you were to create web content on an Italian-language version of your homepage, you would have the hreflang tag it "Italian" (example: hreflang= "it"). Whenever users with an IP address that Google believes to be from Italy or any region that speaks Italian, it will automatically present the Italian version of the website.

Because of this perk, your website will certainly have an increase in conversions as your target audience will immediately land on the homepage that is in their native language.

Not only that, but you can localize your content to cater to a specific audience from a particular region—for example, the Spanish language. If you're targeting people from Spain, your Hreflang tag will be ( hreflang= "es-es"), whereas if you're targeting Mexico, it would be (hreflang= "es-mx").

Other considerations for website translation?

Hreflang tags are just one of the many considerations when conducting website translation. And so, we advise that you do your research because it's what will make or break your digital marketing strategy.

Part of your research will include a feasibility study of your target audience, researching their preference, coding, etc.

The fact you've started your research by reading this article is a good step in the right direction. Many marketing campaigns failed due to a lack of research, which either offended their target audience or made them hesitant to buy their products.

We've listed below a couple of other things you should look into when planning to translate your website, as follows:

  • Coding - This part is essential if you're planning to make your website available in several languages. In achieving a multilingual website, you should look into internationalization, a process that strips out the elements that relate to any location or language. Internationalization code i18n will express that your website's code is ready and has the necessary framework and applications.
  • Website Structure and UX - Your website's structure and User Experience (UX) should go together hand and hand. Your website structure is composed of Subdomains, Subdirectories, and ccTLD (country code top-level domain). Meanwhile, your UX is how your user will interact with your website.
  • Design - When creating your website and making it multilingual, you should create a web design that is flexible and unique so that users from all over the world will quickly identify your website as yours regardless if they're in Japan or Germany.
  • Content Creation - As Bill Gates said, "Content is king." It's true whether you're catering to English-speakers or Spanish-speakers. You can create a content strategy that will help you incorporate SEO into your content and create well-researched articles relevant to your niche.

Different website translation services

I bet you're thinking to yourself, "Why can't I just use Google Translate?" Even though Google Translate is very useful when translations are not readily available, it can be disastrous if you're going to use it for your website.

LinkedIn had an article wherein an Indian expat explained that he wanted to be polite and tell the bus driver, "good night." After using Google Translate, it showed "bonne nuit."

Since it was such a simple phrase, he thought it would be safe to use it. Before getting off the bus, he told the bus driver, "bonne nuit," and the bus driver's expression said it all that something wasn't right.

It turned out that "bonne nuit" is used by close friends and family before they go to bed. If you're saying "have a nice evening," the correct translation is "bonne soirée." As you can see, cultural context is what's missing with Google Translate, which is why we don't advise you to use it.

The following are your options for website translation services:


We suggest that if you're planning to translate to only a few languages, then hiring a freelance translator for your website would be suitable for you.

The benefits of hiring a freelance translator are that you can negotiate with the payment and hire them for either project-based or full-time. The downside in hiring freelance translators is that since they are freelance workers, they don't have many resources compared to professional website translation services and won't have access to the latest technology for computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools and machines.

We got some advice from freelance platforms like Upwork and Freelancer. Upwork stated that when hiring a freelancer, you should inform them of the full scope of your project and identify their career background. Freelancer stated that when hiring a freelancer you should take into account their trust score on the platform because it establishes their credibility as a professional freelancer.

Professional website translation services

They utilize both computer-generated translations and translators, which is a good balance. Using state-of-the-art technology, they can efficiently and quickly translate text while ensuring accuracy by hiring a translator who is an expert in their linguistic field.

Also, because they have more access to resources, they have website translation tools and applications to make translating your website more accessible. Choosing professional website translation services is practical if you plan to translate your website into several languages that one or two translators couldn't handle. We advise that you pick a company that offers a warranty of up to one year and has an excellent customer service review.

We have gathered advice from Tomedes, Trustpilot, and Forrester Research regarding the language industry and website translation services.

Tomedes stated that when choosing professional website translation services you have to consider their previous projects and experience in creating websites in various languages. They also said that you should consider if they have advanced technology, their history of providing fast delivery, transparency of localization and content extraction process, etc.

Trustpilot, a consumer review company, stated that besides traditional translation when planning to localize your online business you should look into the different trust signals and platforms in the market you’re planning to enter. It’s because it provides insight on your target locale’s preferences and how to better cater to them.

Forrester Research, a research and advisory company, discussed localization and seven considerations to have a successful localized website. They stated that localizing all your website’s content isn’t realistic and advised that you should be consistent in creating content that will help your website’s SEO.

Final Thoughts

The world has gotten more connected because of the internet. Due to this, if you want to go global, you have to go locale. Website translation and incorporating hreflang tags to your website are excellent ways to make your brand stand out.

Often, marketing strategies fail when it comes to translation because of a lack of commitment to growth and expansion in the form of little to no research. Hopefully, this article has helped you create a plan to make your website multilingual and more accessible to your target audience.

Posted by inGenium Ltd

inGenium Ltd

iNGENIUM Ltd. is an software development company from EU which delivers a full range of custom .NET, web and mobile solutions for different business to meet partner's demand.

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