A multilingual site is an important step for any business or organization with an international ambition and growth mindset. E-commerce platforms in particular can benefit from a multilingual website and this trend is set to continue with 900 million customers expected to purchase products internationally on the web in 2020. Equally, however, any organization, company, NGO, or group looking to disseminate information or news on an international scale needs to have a multilingual site in their professional repertoire, allowing them to reach previously untouched audiences and markets.
Of course, taking the plunge and going multilingual isn’t always easy, and with many apparent solutions available, it’s often hard to discern which are the most feasible, effective, and cost-efficient. In this article, we’re going to take a look at how you can create a multilingual site with Weglot from start to finish, putting any qualms or reservations you may have to rest.
Which languages should I translate my site into?
A big question when it comes to taking your website into the multilingual sphere is how many languages should I cater to? Unfortunately, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of answer and will require an assessment of your own business. While it can be tempting to say you want to translate your site into 10 languages immediately, it’s probably more prudent to start off with a few languages and scale-up in accordance to the demands of the market and your own commercial ambitions. Some questions that are helpful to ask yourself are:
Which markets am I targeting?
For a business that is just starting out in the cross-border e-commerce game, it’s helpful to have selected a number of key markets that you wish to focus on based on market research and potential demand, from this point on you can make an educated decision on which languages you’re going to need.
Say you’re a French company launching your own sunglasses business, it’s only logical that the markets you’ll target will have a generally warm climate and sunny weather such as Spain. Therefore, you might decide it makes sense to translate your site to Spanish, but from a commercial point of view, it may not make much sense to translate your site to Icelandic as the climate there is generally cold and windy.
While a very simplified example, the point is that you’ll want to let your market research and other feasibility studies guide your choices in this regard. For example, you could use tools such as Google Analytics to get insights into what countries your website visitors are coming from, you can also check out conversion rates from these visitors. If you find that the conversion rate is extremely sub-par it may be indicative that they can’t understand your site.
Languages in my existing market
While this may seem like an obvious thing to say, it’s important to recognize the need to cater to all languages widely spoken in your domestic market to maximize success. Take the USA for example, 13% of the population or over 41 million people are native Spanish speakers! American businesses operating a website that doesn’t provide a Spanish alternative are therefore potentially losing out on huge segments of their own domestic market.
And it’s not just the US businesses who sometimes overlook this consideration, think of Belgium where Dutch, German and French are widely spoken, furthermore, Switzerland has 4 official languages French, Italian, German, Romansh. Before you go translating to other languages for cross border purposes, be sure you’ve got your domestic covered ✅
How should I translate my site? Human or Machine Translation
Once you’ve figured out which languages you’re going to have your website available in, it’s now time to consider how you’re actually going to go about translating it. Choosing the right translation solution is important in terms of both time and cost, to ensure you’re meeting not only budgets, but also other temporal deadlines and objectives related to your expansion.
When it comes down to it, you have three options:
- Automated Translation
- Human Translation
- Automated and Human Translation
1. Automated Translation
The Globalisation and Localization Association (GALA) defines automated or machine translation as “fully automated software that can translate source content into target languages”. So basically, when we think of automated translation as your Google Translate, DeepL, Yandex and other machine translation services.
And here at Weglot, we have to admit we’re big automated translation advocates. Historically, automated translation has gotten a bad rap in terms of translation quality and accuracy. However, thanks to emerging technologies, the rise of AI and other significant developments in the tech sphere, the last 5 years has seen a huge rise in the reliability of automatic translation solutions. Automatic translation has been shown to be increasingly accurate year upon year.
Nowadays, automated translation is the way to go for website owners looking to go multilingual thanks to the high-quality translations and their association with cost efficiencies, allowing businesses to keep up with their growth plans and international ambition without exceeding their budgets.
However, not all automated solutions are the same, and it’s important to be wary of free solutions that may not draw upon the best machine translation solutions available on the market. Many businesses make the mistake of opting for a Google Translate button on their site but this isn’t advisable given that you’ll have no control over the translated content that’s published. In addition to this, Google has recently begun charging for this widget, meaning you’re not only paying for this service but also, the installation process is more complicated.
Another consideration you’ll want to make is whether or not the automatic solution you’re using has SEO capabilities. In terms of automatic solutions, this isn’t always the easiest thing to find but is critical if you want to make inroads on international search engine result pages (SERPs).
2. Human Translation
Then of course, you’ve got human translation as an option. This can involve hiring professional translators, using a translation agency, or even using your own employees who may speak a variety of different languages.
Unfortunately, the likelihood is that most companies won’t have employees with the language abilities they need for their projects, and even if they did – these likely would have other responsibilities to deal with. As a result, hiring professional translators is often the only choice when going down the human translation route.
While providing impeccable accuracy and reliability, this solution is quite expensive and can hinder your ability to scale up quickly enough to meet market opportunities. This can result in competitors catching up to take shares of the market and lost opportunities for your business.
On average, professional translations cost in the region of $0.08 – $0.25 per word. The cost can vary depending on a number of factors including, the language pair chosen, the difficulty of the content translated (e.g highly technical terms or content such as medical information will cost more), and also other factors such as how quickly you need the translations.
So say on average you’re paying $0.15 per word, while this may not seem like much, if you’re translating a site with 10,000 words, this is still $1500. Most sites will likely have a lot more words than this, and if you’re translating to multiple languages, the cost only multiplies and could add up to be an extremely expensive solution. In addition to this, you’ll need to repeat this process for any new content you add to your site in the future, this means these costs will continue and will involve considerable upkeep.
3. Human and Automated Translation
Behold, the ultimate compromise bringing together the best of both the aforementioned solutions – the compound option of using both human and automated translation to make your site multilingual.
As mentioned previously, automatic translation solutions are cost and time-efficient solutions. However, sometimes there are instances where professional translations are needed whether it’s to make sure important information (such as legal notices) on your site is 100% accurate or just to give it that personal touch.
Why use Weglot?
Making your site multilingual has never been easier thanks to Weglot, and you can have the whole thing set up and launched in a matter of minutes. But you don’t have to take our word for it, here are some of the main reasons why you should use Weglot when embarking on your multilingual journey:
- Installation and set up: Unlike other multilingual alternatives, Weglot is a no-code solution meaning it’s super user friendly. Weglot auto-detects all of your site’s content (even the meta-data and content from other plugins) and you can have your multilingual site up and running in minutes.
- Compatibility: Weglot integrates with any CMS, so you don’t have to worry if you’re not using a traditional CMS such as WordPress. Check out our integrations page here for more info.
- Simple Translation Management: As mentioned above, Weglot uses a quick first layer of automatic translation to translate your website the first time around. Following from this, you can then manually edit your translations via the intuitive dashboard or furthermore, Weglot can provide you with access to professional translators. In addition to this, the translation management features include a ‘’visual editor’’ which allows you to edit translations in a live preview of your website.
- SEO Optimised: Weglot is an SEO optimized solution meaning that all your content is indexed following Google best practices. It translates all of your metadata and automatically adds hreflang tags, meaning that your international SEO is covered. Say hello 👋 to higher rankings on SERPs!
- Reputation and Reach: Weglot is already trusted by over 50,000 websites and provides 100+ language options.
- Support: Of course, just as your own site may experience blips or issues from time to time, so might your translated pages, however, Weglot has a rigorous support team who will respond to any query within one business day and work quickly to find solutions to any issues you may experience.
So, how does it work?
Register for Weglot
Firstly, you’ll need to register, so go over to Weglot.com and on the homepage you’ll see a button saying ‘Start your free trial’, click on it and from here you’ll be brought to the registrations page, as shown below.
At this point, all you need to do is enter your email address, create a password, confirm the password, and agree to the terms of service. When you click ‘Start free trial’ your 10-day free trial will be activated.
Create your project
Following from this, you’ll be prompted to this screen where you are asked to create a project name (just choose something related to your site) and choose your website technology e.g WordPress, Wix, Shopify, Other.
Depending on the CMS you choose, the set-up process will vary slightly. However, what you will be asked to do regardless is enter your website address (domain URL), enter the original language of your website and then the destination language(s) – i.e the language(s) you want your site to be translated to.
After you’ve done this, click ‘’Next”. Weglot will then generate a unique API key that you will then have to link to your website. Specific instructions will be provided for each CMS. Once this is done, all you need to do is finalize the configuration et voilà!
Your multilingual site will be up and running and a language switcher will appear on your front site, allowing you and your website visitors to alternate between languages when viewing your site.
With e-commerce and other cross-border activities on the rise, going multilingual should be put at the forefront of priorities of any business or organization hoping for global success, and with the Weglot translation solution, this has never been easier.
Try out Weglot’s 10-day free trial to see how it can help you translate your website and expand your global reach.