Category Archives: Anne Connor

How to Establish a Real “Worldwide” Web Presence

By Anne Connor

It’s a well-known fact that people prefer to shop in their native language. Naturally, they feel more comfortable when they completely understand what they’re reading. The same goes for searching. It’s highly unlikely that potential consumers in foreign markets will find their way to your website using English-language searches, which means you need to incorporate keywords in your target languages for the best Search Engine Optimization. SEO is complex in your own language—and it’s constantly changing—for example, while Google is the top search engine in many international markets, Yahoo is number one in Japan and Yandex is the most popular in Russia.

Unique URLs

Consider investing in local domains so you have unique URLs for each market and language in which your website is translated. A local domain will give you higher search rankings in that country; while unique URLs ensure that search engines can identify the different versions of your site to rank them for the right audience. Basically, you’ll be running multiple versions of your site, which makes it easier for users to switch between languages and have completely local experiences.

“House” page?

In today’s age of automation, its right to assume that there are plugins available to instantly translate your web presence. Maybe you’ve seen the “Translate this page” links when searching on Google. But remember there’s no such thing as a free lunch. These “machine translation” tools will only give potential customers the gist of what your website says, which simply won’t do if you’re trying to dress your site to impress.

When a small U.S. auto repair parts company had its site content professionally translated into Spanish for Mexico, its website developer created those new pages, but he used the platform’s embedded plugin to automatically translate the navigation and menus. That program rendered “Home,” used in a link to the website’s homepage, to “Casa,” which just means “house” in Spanish, and other menu terms into ridiculously incomprehensible phrases. An employee caught it and had the developer disable the plugin before the pages went live. It’s doubtful anyone would have read the beautifully translated Spanish copy after being put off by the unwieldy automatic translations. The whole costly exercise would have been a waste of time. To create a real worldwide web presence, you need to reach people at the local level. Click To Tweet

Video content

Videos are becoming an increasingly productive part of online content marketing, and that’s true in most foreign markets as well. After all, YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. So, if your site offers YouTube video content, make sure you make your videos global. Use international SEO practices to research and identify key words in every end-user language. Have high-quality subtitles produced for your target markets, and consider transcribing and translating the full text for each video. Avoid crowd-sourced or auto-translated subtitles, such as YouTube’s auto-caption feature. They not only often produce poor translations that will make a bad impression; they don’t get indexed by Google or YouTube. To take your videos to the next level, hire voiceover experts to dub them into your target languages.

Dates and currencies

For English-speaking countries, localization also includes converting dates and currencies, and you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches by ensuring this little detail doesn’t go overlooked. Most countries outside the United States use the Day/Month/Year format instead of the Month/Day/Year format, so make sure to write out dates like 2018 and avoid numeric formats such as “4/3” because it could be mistaken for “March 4th.” Consider the potential sales losses if you’re misleading product release date drives customers to your competitors who got the date right.

You can gain a step on some of your competitors by accepting foreign currencies, offering local payment methods, and displaying product prices in local currencies. Credit cards and PayPal are not ubiquitous around the world. For instance, iDeal is popular in the Netherlands and, in some countries, cash on delivery is still in use. Some sites even offer instant conversion, which could offer you an additional competitive edge in our increasingly global and mobile world. Whatever you do, remember to account for all fees charged by your financial institution or other payment portal.

Localization, Localization, Localization

In addition to translation into other languages, localization involves tailoring your brand voice to the local market and accounting for country-to-country differences. For instance, if you’re a women’s fashion e-tailer based in the U.S., your “fall line” would become your “autumn line” in the UK, and you’d need to change descriptions like “pullover sweater” to “jumper.”

The world may be getting smaller as the internet gets bigger, but to create a real worldwide web presence, you need to reach people at the local level. Make sure you tap the right professionals—localization specialists, native translators/language consultants, and international SEO experts—to optimize international demand for your business line. If you follow some of these best practices, you’ll be well on your way to reaching new consumers around the globe and sending your sales through the stratosphere!

 Anne Connor holds a BBA in Business Law from Temple University’s Fox School of Business and is an active member of the American Translators Association. The American Translators Association represents over 10,000 translators and interpreters across 103 countries. Along with advancing the translation and interpreting professions, ATA promotes the education and development of language services providers and consumers alike. For more information on ATA or translation and interpreting professionals, please visit www.atanet.org.

Arriving at the Right Type of Language Professional

By Anne Connor

Business people don’t have to communicate with extraterrestrials (yet), but they can still learn a few things from the sci-fi thriller Arrival. The blockbuster film put a language professional in the leading role. Hollywood star Amy Adams plays Dr. Louise Banks, a linguistics professor asked by U.S. Army Intelligence to help communicate with an alien species that has arrived on earth. However, the film blurred the lines between the three professions of translator, interpreter, and linguist, reinforcing some common misconceptions most business people have.

To “arrive” at the right language professional, you have to understand your needs. Click To Tweet When you do, it’s helpful to know the difference between the types of professionals involved in the process. Who do you call for a meeting with a new or potential overseas client for your small business or when you need to localize your ecommerce company’s website for foreign markets? Who do you contact when you receive medical records from an employee who required medical attention while on an overseas business trip or a contract from a foreign country?

Put simply:

Translators help you with written material, like contracts, letters, brochures, and websites

  • Before pushing that “Would you like to translate this?” button for the material that your advertising people spend weeks refining, remember that the nuanced language geared at persuading others to buy your products or services is best translated by a human who specializes in your company’s line of business.
  • If you’d like to create a professional-looking brochure or web page in other languages for new target markets, the last thing you should do is trust that task to an automated translation tool instead of its flesh-and-blood counterpart.
  • Should you be in a position to apply for an international patent for your product, you will definitely want a human patent translator specialized in your field to do that work instead of trusting a machine translation into languages unknown to you. Not doing so may lose you the patent if something in the application is mistranslated.

Interpreters help you with spoken language in business, legal and medical settings

  • Say a potential client wants to visit your facilities before deciding to place an order for your products. What a great impression you would make if you hired an interpreter to accompany you both on a guided plant tour so that all questions and answers could be handled in each party’s dominant language, putting everyone at ease. Hiring the same interpreter for a preliminary or follow-up telephone or videoconference meeting would go that extra mile toward sealing the deal and keeping this client’s business for years to come.
  • Well-informed business owners and managers also hire interpreters for employee health and safety training meetings that include limited-English-proficient workers. This helps them meet OSHA compliance requirements and keep their operations running smoothly and without interruption from preventable accidents.
  • Conference interpreters ensure that all attendees at an international business or medical gathering understand the presenters’ messages and are able to ask questions about the presentation’s content.

Linguists analyze language (including structure, history, and more)

  • To decipher an unknown extraterrestrial language, the linguistics professor in Arrival works with the aliens to learn the basic concepts of their language—the individual words and what they mean, building a lexicon as she goes. In the end, she has to use a complex, computer-assisted analysis to break the code and understand how the alien language works. This is neither translation nor interpreting, but linguistics.
  • In the real world, linguists help translators do their jobs by developing and updating the terminology-management software that allows those translators to work more quickly and efficiently, resulting in lower costs for their client and ensuring consistency throughout the entire translated document or website.

One thing that translators, interpreters and linguists all have in common is that they draw upon their extensive experience to solve linguistic “puzzles.” The stakes might not be as high as saving the planet from potential annihilation, but the work of all three professions is vital all the same, helping:

  • businesses communicate beyond borders
  • governments avoid conflict
  • healthcare providers make lifesaving decisions, to mention only the tip of the iceberg.

In order to “arrive” at the right language professional, you have to understand your needs. In the movie, the producers understood they needed a language expert as their protagonist, even if they mixed up the terms for how she went about helping them communicate with the aliens. What they did get right was to demonstrate that language professionals all draw upon:

  • extensive language study
  • expertise in the field
  • research skills
  • their ability to learn and utilize the latest technologies to solve linguistic “puzzles.”

Anne Connor is a professional Spanish and Italian-to-English medical and legal translator and an active member of the American Translators Association. The American Translators Association represents over 10,000 translators and interpreters across 91 countries. Along with advancing the translation and interpreting professions, ATA promotes the education and development of language services providers and consumers alike. For more information on ATA or translation and interpreting professionals, please visit www.atanet.org

5 Tips for Taking your Business Global

By Anne Connor

Anne ConnorThe Coca-Cola Company is the leading beverage maker in China’s $69 billion soft drink market, but the story might have been quite different if it weren’t for some smart and localized brand management at the very beginning of its foray into the country. Protecting the company’s valuable trademark was a high priority when Coca-Cola began to expand outside the United States.

When the company turned its attention to China, it became clear that the trademark also needed to be transliterated. That’s easier said than done. Finding the nearest phonetic equivalent to “Coca-Cola” meant sifting through some 40,000 characters to locate a separate Chinese character for each of the four syllables – an enormous task in the pre-computer days of the 1920s.

Today Coca-Cola products are sold in all but two countries: Cuba and North Korea. This worldwide success was only possible because the company realized the importance of taking the reins of its own international branding through proactive translation and localization.

No matter what size your business is, you can learn a thing or two from this story and Coca-Cola’s success. For one thing, don’t underestimate the localization process. But it goes well beyond that.

Here are five tips to help you take your business global.

1) Do Your Homework: One thing we have today that Coca-Cola didn’t in the 1920s is instant access to an Internet of information, where you can find tons of support for marketing products or services overseas. Check out the Small Business Administration’s online guidelines for doing business abroad. Then search the Census Bureau’s website for U.S. Exports of Goods by End-Use Category and Commodity, Services by Major Category, and the Top U.S. Trading Partners as of December 2015. These resources will lead you to plenty more so you can determine your potential in international markets.

2) Know Your Target Markets: Once you’ve assessed your potential and zeroed in on some markets, you need to understand your target market so you can tailor your business to it. For example, will the names of your products and services be accepted or do you need to have them translated or transliterated? A good place to start, especially for small and medium-sized business, is your local or national translators association. Professional translators are much more than linguistic experts; they also possess an intimate understanding of the business culture in the target markets in which they specialize. Most associations have searchable directories online, where you can find a professional who translates from English into the language of your target market. By taking a proactive approach to your branding before entering the market, you’ll avoid any potential mishaps.

3) Localize: Once you’ve taken a hard look at your brand, it’s time to localize your entire storefront. And like your brand, this means finding professionals to translate and localize your website and marketing materials. A small team of translation professionals can likely help if your company is relatively small and only targeting a few markets, but you’ll want to consider contracting a language company if you’re looking at more than three or four. The professionals who helped you understand your target market are a great place to start. Avoid the temptation to add one of those plug-ins that automatically translate web pages and blog posts, because you’re asking for trouble. Hiring professionals to handle the translation and localization will ensure that your foreign-language website really reaches and resonates with consumers.

4) Know What You Say and Sign: Speaking your customers’ language will likely go beyond your website and marketing materials and include communication supplies and/or local agents. Even if you’ve hired a local representative who both speaks English and understands the current laws for doing business, it’s still wise to have all important documents translated into English by a legal translation professional for you and your attorney to review. Taking a hard look at contracts before you sign them will save time, money and aggravation in the long run. Moreover, contracting a professional translator and communicating with customers in their own language does wonders for relations and retention, not to mention helping to avoid any cultural misunderstandings. And the expense shouldn’t be prohibitive. If you really want to up your international sales potential, hire an interpreter and follow up some of those emails with a personal phone call to your target customers.

5) Get Paid. No matter how well you manage your brand, localization and communication, you’ll need to ensure that you get paid and that getting paid doesn’t cost you too much. International transactions can be an expensive enterprise, so proper preparation should be part of your expansion plan. Do you need to adjust your prices in the respective markets to account for international wire transfer or online payment portal fees? PayPal, for example, charges a standard 2.9 percent fee plus a cross-border fee of 1 percent, both of which are deducted in the foreign currency payment amount before the exchange rate is applied and entered into your PayPal account in U.S. dollars. For large shipments or amounts, it may be best to request that your customer open up a Letter of Credit in your favor for an amount in U.S. dollars. Be sure to check with your bank or other international financial consultant to make sure you choose the payment options best for you.

Your business may not have the means to expand into foreign markets like one of the world’s leading beverage makers, but you do have the means to emulate how seriously Coca-Cola took the process. Before your first foray into the global market, consider the cultural and linguistic needs of your potential customers You’ll be miles ahead of the competition if you take the time to get closer to them and speak their language – and your company’s products, services or slogan won’t become the next Facebook meme to mock clueless foreigners. Do your homework and you’ll be well on your way to going global and achieving international success.

Anne Connor holds a BBA in Business Law from Temple University in Philadelphia and is an active member of the American Translators Association. The American Translators Association represents over 10,000 translators and interpreters across 91 countries. Along with advancing the translation and interpreting professions, ATA promotes the education and development of language services providers and consumers alike. For more information on ATA or translation and interpreting professionals, please visit www.atanet.org.