All too often, you see messages like this on LinkedIn: “Does anyone have a good English to Spanish translator in their network? To translate our website into Spanish!”

You’ve given careful consideration to your marketing plan. You’ve sweated over your English web copy until it’s zinging with SEO-optimised flair. Not to mention those endless hours spent on Google fine-tuning your keywords. Do you really want to undo all that effort by giving the translation work to someone who has done a bit of Spanish at evening class or your mate’s daughter’s Spanish boyfriend? Please, please, please… just don’t go there. Here’s why:

Your website is too important for you to entrust the translation to just anyone.

The term translation doesn’t even begin to describe what’s required here. You need someone who understands your target market. Someone who’ll get your message across in beautiful, idiomatic Spanish. Someone who can steer you safely through all the local cultural minefields. You really don’t want to go through what one of our competitors experienced recently: in a test (as part of a call for tender) they did the unthinkable and used the informal ‘you’ form in Spanish. What was the Spanish word for ‘gaffe’ again?

Think global, translate local

In fact you might even need two translators, because the Spanish market requires a very different linguistic and cultural approach to that of South America. The same is true of many other languages. British or American English? French for Belgium, Switzerland or France? The list goes on.

This brings us to transcreation and localisation.

Transcreation is the skill you need for a website translation – to a far greater extent than technical translation, for example. The translator doesn’t translate your web content word for word, but writes your message in the target language, adapted to your specific target market. This makes your foreign-language audience feel as though you’re really speaking to them, with content that feels authentic and fine-tuned to your customer. Good marketing translators or transcreators bring together the best of both worlds: translation and copywriting.

Localisation means having an eye for local differences. We’ve touched on this already: the informal ‘you’ form is a no-no in written Spanish! Localisation is also about the correct notation of figures, units of measurement, phone numbers and dates. In a website for the Spanish market, it’s pointless to use non-Spanish cultural references. While Postman Pat might buoy up nostalgic Brits, he’ll only bring bemusement in Barcelona.

SEO copywriting: more conversion in the target language too, please.

Carefully crafted SEO copy will always hit the target more often than a scattergun approach. So it won’t surprise you to hear that the same is true in other languages. But where do you even start? A translator seasoned in the art of SEO copywriting will make sure that your copy scores, generates leads and sells in Spanish too. And that was why you decided to invest in a website translation in the first place, right? Or as we like to put it: tell it, translate it, sell it!

Do you already have keywords in the source language? Great, in that case the SEO translator can get straight to work. An online marketing agency can then use the translated keywords to research the most suitable keywords and variants more extensively. Would you prefer not to invest in keyword research in the target language? In that case, the translator themself can use their expertise and knowledge of the local market to root out the top-scoring words, without compromising on fluency.

Today’s tip: look in your inbox for any enquiries you’ve received in Spanish. What search terms do your Spanish-speaking customers use to find information about your products or services? Make a list of these terms: they’re worth their weight in gold! Oh, and don’t forget to forward them to your translator.

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