There are a few reasons why companies may choose to stop translating their localized websites for global customers. Perhaps they believe their translation spend is too high, or they’re considering abandoning service to a particular market.
This might seem like a prudent move—until you consider the potential fallout of the decision. What happens when you put your website translation on pause, or stop it altogether?
You expose your brand to risk when you continue to serve global markets with websites that are no longer actively translated. Here’s why:
If your localized website isn’t regularly crawled to detect updates, it often results in new, untranslated content appearing alongside previously-translated content. This “mixed-language” experience is confusing, and creates a poor UX that sends users packing.
In-language SEO takes a major hit when you quit translating new online content. For starters, you stop gaining SEO keywords from newly-translated content. You also lose search ranking and relevance with a mixed-language experience.
Broken Customer Journey
Without upkeep, sections of your website’s customer journey—including critical conversion funnels—can wind partially or totally untranslated. This creates friction where there should be none, and will undoubtedly make global customers abandon carts. They might even think twice about doing business with your brand in the future.
You’ll see the consequences in your website analytics, too. Bad UX leads to soaring bounce rates. The number of returning visitors often plummets. Interrupted customer journeys result in dropping conversion rates and revenue, as well. Organic traffic will dip with the loss of SEO benefits.
Damaged Brand Reputation
When you give global users a subpar online experience, your brand’s reputation takes a hit. Customers usually assume you don’t value their business, and are inclined to move on to a competitor that does. Once it’s gone, trust in your brand is hard to regain.
Putting an existing website translation project on hold can quickly alienate your global customers. But there are ways to sidestep the risks, including:
Limit Your Scope
You can reduce the cost of your localized website by limiting translation to pages that only make up the customer journey, such as conversion funnels and other mission-critical sections. With straightforward customizations from technically-savvy vendors, you can control what pages global users see, so they never have to run into untranslated content.
Customize the Parsing Algorithm
It may also be possible to reduce translation spend by modifying the parsing algorithm—the technology used to detect translatable text segments. Technically mature algorithms can be customized to block certain segments from translation, or can be optimized to increase segment repetition—repetitive phrases or sentence structures that can be localized with the same translations.
Utilize Machine Translation
While the quality of machine translation is lower than human translation, it’s also drastically cheaper, and useful in situations where less-than-perfect translation is better than none. It’s not recommended for marketing material that reflects brand image, but can be acceptable for large sections of straightforward text, like product pages.
Use Speedbumps and Redirects
If you want to give global customers the option to view partially-translated or untranslated pages, you can use “speedbumps,” or pop-up messages, to inform users that they are leaving an in-language experience. You can also apply redirects that send users back to the translated website.
While offering a fully-translated online experience is the best practice for serving global customers, there are certain unavoidable scenarios that can put translation to a stop. It’s important to evaluate the risks associated with that decision, and find ways to limit the damage it will do to your brand’s reputation and bottom line.
Examine the options with your current translation agency before making a final decision—or look for a turn-key solution that can address your needs, seamlessly scale, and dramatically reduce translation costs.