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Fuschia Hutton

How to get more English-speaking visitors to your website: 7 different ways

You’ve translated (or got someone to translate) your website into English. It’s an exciting step – you’re now able to take your products or services to a whole new set of people. Not only native speakers of English, residing in the UK, USA, or Australia, but also the vast number of second-language English speakers all around the world.

But there’s just one problem: how do you actually get English-speaking you aren’t attracting any English customers to your website. Or even more problematic – you’re receiving visitors but they are not converting into customers.

So, how do you actually get more English-speaking visitors to your website?

Depending on how you have translated your website, there could be a range of problems. Here are a few, and some solutions on how you can tweak them.

1. You used Google translate or an automatic plugin

It seems like the perfect solution for businesses in the start-up phase who need to watch the pennies. You pay for a plug-in that uses machine translation to transform your Italian, Spanish, or Chinese text into English.

The problem? It will sound like a machine. Yes, machine translation is getting better and better, but it still lacks the ability to harness human emotion in a way that really speaks to your target customers, essential when you are trying to market your products or services. That cleverly-written and compelling copy you have in the original version of your website? It’s all lost on the new audience.

Even worse – if your website includes errors in the English-language copy, then they are very unlikely to convert.

But it’s not just that – there’s another problem. Google doesn’t like what it sees as duplicate texts, because it can’t work out which one to rank higher. And when a website includes the same content translated by Google, it regards this as duplicate content.

2. You didn’t use a professional translator

As a follow-on to the first point, make sure you do use a professional translator rather than translating it yourself, getting your bilingual secretary to do it, or giving it to your employee who has a degree in English.

Translation – particularly of marketing copy, which is aimed at persuading and influencing the reader – is more complicated than you think. Translators usually study for years to understand the most effective ways to turn a text in one language into one that is suitable for a completely different audience. And often, they are specialists in their field (e.g. marketing, law) before turning their hand to translation.

Similarly, be aware that professional translators only translate into their native (or dominant) language for good reason. I explain why in this post about using native translators.

3. You translated rather than transcreated (or localised) your website

Much has been written about the fine line between translation and transcreation. Transcreation is a process of producing a version which is inspired by the original rather than a direct translation. It is highly-tailored for the new audience and their pain points, which may not match across all markets.

Taking the time to really understand the different target audiences can make a big difference between whether you are chosen among your competitors or scare your potential web customers away. And beware – customers in the UK and the US are not interchangeable!

While transcreation tends to stop at the copy, localisation goes further and looks at the structure of your website, whether the images are suitable or the text fits on the buttons properly.

4. You translated your keywords without doing keyword research

The keywords you use to optimise each webpage are important – they send signals to Google (and the other search engines) about what the content is about. If you worked with a copywriter to create your website, they should have optimised the site for a range of relevant keywords, carefully chosen for their levels of competitiveness and popularity.

But beware – just translating a keyword from one language to another isn’t the best tactic to get more English-speaking visitors to your website. English-speakers might use a different term to the most obvious translation of your word, or it might be much more competitive (and so harder to rank for) than in the original language. Conducting keyword research separately for each language you translate your website into can identify unexpected opportunities which might help your website perform better in the rankings.

5. You paid more attention to keyword density than intent

On a related note, be aware that search keywords are likely to be more competitive in English than in the original language. More pages exist in English than in any other language, and the way that Google ranks pages is constantly changing.

Many SEO experts now believe that keyword density isn’t really relevant for English-language websites. In the days of yore, you just needed to hit the sweet spot of a certain number of mentions of your keyword(s) within your web page. If you managed to get in enough but not too many, then you would be well on your way to getting a good ranking.

Now the idea is that you need to be optimising for the searcher’s intent – what they are really looking for when they search. This involves including other types of related terms when you write the copy. This blogpost by Yoast explains the concept behind search intent nicely.

6. You didn’t consider cultural differences or web design in your text and imagery

It’s not only words that are important when connecting with potential customers – visuals also play a big role. This is one area which it’s very easy to neglect, but could have a big impact.

For example, did you know that Chinese websites tend to be very detail-driven with lots of different areas for text and images? European and American websites, on the other hand, currently favour cleaner designs and big, inspirational images.

Colour is also important, so make sure you research the psychology of colours in your target market, or better still – work with a branding designer located in your target country.

7. You aren’t able to reply to comments because you lack the English language skills – work with a social media manager

Finally, are you are able to engage with English-speaking customers on social media, blog comments, or enquiries? No one expects your English to be error-free, as long as you can communicate.

If you lack the language skills or lack time, consider working with a native English social media manager. Let them be your voice while you get on with what you’re best at.

Italian business ready to get more English-speaking visitors to your website? Look no further than my Italian to English marketing translation services.

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