Spanish is the second-most spoken native language throughout the world behind Mandarin. It is also the third-most spoken language in the world. Attracting a Spanish-speaking audience to your website can lead to many good things!
There are currently over 150 million native Spanish speakers online – a massive marketplace ripe for picking. However, having worked with numerous companies in developing and launching Spanish versions of their sites, there are consistent mistakes that are made time and time again when creating a Spanish version of a website.
Launching a website in any language is difficult and Spanish certainly has its own complexities. So, here are three very simple best practice tips for first timers looking to go Spanish.
:: USING THE ‘RIGHT’ SPANISH
Probably the most common error people make when planning the website through is thinking they just need a “Spanish” translation. This is akin to approaching the global English speaking market with an “English” translation – what may work in England may not necessarily work in Canada for example. Which English or which Spanish is the question that should be asked.
There is actually no thing as the “right” Spanish – what is right for Spain may be wrong for Peru. What is right in Peru may be offensive in Mexico. In short, Spanish varies from country to country and culture to culture. What you have to do is be targeted and specific.
Identify your key or target markets and ensure you use the Spanish they speak and read. You must work with your translator or a professional translation agency in ensuring the language is localized. This will make all the difference when it comes to your brand, online conversions and the overall feel of your website.
If however you have grand plans to sell into the whole Spanish speaking market then make sure you translate into “Universal Spanish.” Universal Spanish is the most widely accepted, standardised form of the language. Be warned though that it does not tick all boxes as in some countries it still may sound odd due to discrepancies with local dialects and nuances.
:: SEO AND KEYWORDS
Unless you have a brand with a massive following or a product you know people will be looking for, you have to make sure people can find your shiny new Spanish site. Search engines are the obvious way to go although it is also worth looking at social media, advertising and other channels.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the science behind getting your website found in search engines like Google or Bing. So if you sell jeans you want to make sure that when people search for jeans online, they find you.
Prior to starting on your website translation, make sure you plan how you want to go to market. If SEO is on the cards, then you need to start thinking about keywords and the structure of your website.
Keywords are those words that define your product/service – i.e. “skinny jeans”, “cheap jeans” or “jeans for kids”. Once you have identified your keyword set you then need to translate or localize these keywords into Spanish. But again make sure you tailor the translation to the market. Let’s carry on with the jeans to illustrate this point. In South America they tend to call them “jeans” whereas in Spain they call them “vaqueros”; however if you used that word in South America they would think you are talking about cowboys.
As well as the wording and content of your website you also need to pay attention to the mechanics and structure of your site. What are the URL structures? Do you have well written meta information? Where is your site hosted and how fast does it load? What domain name are you going to use?
SEO can be complex so if you can, try to bring in an expert who can best advise how to approach these elements of your site. You can also find plenty of free SEO guides and information online too if you want to go the DIY route.
:: KEEP IT SIMPLE AND AFFORDABLE
“We need to translate our whole site into Spanish.” No – not necessarily. Many people assume that if you want to create a foreign language version of your site that you translate the whole shebang. This is wrong. Before you charge off with the enthusiasm and zeal of Don Quixote, take a step back and properly analyse what really needs doing.
Firstly, translating all the text on the site will be expensive. Lowering the number of words needing translating saves you money. Secondly, do your Spanish speaking customers really need all the information on your website? You may find they are actually only interested in a few products and some basic information about the company. Thirdly, when you rush and translate or localize your whole site, you don’t give yourself to really tailor the experience. Taking your time, adding content and pages as you go, analyzing analytics on user behavior and gaining customer feedback is a much more pragmatic way of going about it.
Simply stated, keep it simple, achievable and flexible. This will pay off in the long run.