Translating your small business website

Translating your small business website

Posted: Wed 26th Jun 2024

Expanding your business internationally can be an exciting opportunity for growth. But one important aspect of reaching a global audience is making sure your website is properly translated.

A well-translated website can help you connect with potential customers in different countries and cultures, ultimately leading to increased sales and much wider recognition of your brand.

In this blog, we look at what a typical translation project involves and the benefits it can bring. We also explore the different methods of translation available to you, and how you might choose between them.

What is website translation?

Website translation is the process of adapting a website's content and design to meet the specific needs and preferences of a target audience in a different language or country. It goes beyond the simple act of converting text from one language to another.

Cultural adaptation

This is a vital part of the translation process. It involves considering the audience's cultural norms, beliefs and values, then adapting the content to be appropriate for that culture.

As part of this work, you may replace certain images, use specific colours or symbols, or even adjust your content's overall tone and style.


It isn't enough to simply translate the text from one language to another. You must also "localise" it to fit the target market's linguistic and grammatical nuances and preferences.

This may mean adapting idioms, phrases or even sentence structure to make sure the content resonates with international customers and conveys the intended meaning accurately.


Website translation also involves considering how the website functions and whether this is suitable for the user. You'll consider elements such as visual design, user experience (UX) and the website's overall structure.

You should adapt the visual design to suit the audience's preferences, and optimise the UX design to make sure the site is as easy as possible to navigate and interact with.

You may also need to adjust the website's overall structure to accommodate different writing systems or other technical requirements.


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What are the different types of website translation?

Raw machine translation

This is the process of using an automated translation tool, such as Google Translate, to translate your website content without any human intervention.

While this approach may seem convenient and speedy, it comes with several drawbacks and limitations.

  • Inaccurate translations: Machine translation algorithms rely on statistical patterns from previous translations, which can lead to errors and mistranslations. This is especially problematic for languages with different grammatical structures or idiomatic expressions.

  • Cultural misunderstandings: Machine translation tools often fail to capture a language's nuances and cultural context. This can result in translations that are offensive, inappropriate or incomprehensible to audiences in foreign markets.

  • Grammatical errors: These occur frequently when you rely solely on machine translation. Machine algorithms struggle to interpret complex sentence structures, leading to awkward phrasing and errors with syntax.

    These mistakes can undermine your content's clarity and professionalism, frustrate users and diminish their engagement with the website.

Translation proxy

A translation proxy works by intercepting web content, translating it and then delivering the translated version to the user's browser.

This automated process ensures that users can see the website in their preferred language without any delay. Whether it's English, Spanish, French or any other language, the translation proxy can reflect the website content accurately.

The key advantage of using a translation proxy is that it can support a number of languages seamlessly. This means you can cater to a diverse audience without having to create and maintain separate websites for each language. With just one website and the translation proxy, you can reach customers worldwide.

The translation process happens in real time, so users can see the translated content immediately. This removes the need for manual translation and updates. Additionally, the translation proxy can handle various elements of the website, including text and images.

Machine translation post-editing

Translating a website using machine translation post-editing (MTPE) involves a three-step process.

  1. Editing the source content to make it easier for the machine translation system to process. This may involve cleaning up the text, removing unnecessary code and making sure formatting is consistent.

  2. Running the pre-edited content through a machine translation system. The system uses algorithms and linguistic models to automatically translate the text into the target language.

  3. A human translator post-editing the machine-translated content. They review and correct the content, making sure it's accurate and fluent and conveying the intended meaning.

    The post-editor may also make other improvements, such as adapting the translated content to the target audience and applying SEO principles.

MTPE can make translating significantly quicker and less expensive, especially if you're dealing with large volumes of content, as the machine translation system does the initial bulk of the work.

Human translation

Having a person translate your online content can make the whole process more effective and higher-quality.

One key advantage of human translation is the ability to capture and convey the cultural nuances and context of the original language, which can be vital for maintaining the intended message and tone across different cultures.

When it comes to translating high-visibility pages – like product descriptions, marketing copy or customer support content, for example – human translation is more suitable. A native speaker brings an innate understanding of the language and can make sure the translation feels natural and flows seamlessly.

Also, having a subject-matter expert as the translator ensures that the industry-specific language is accurately translated, which helps keep your brand credible and professional.


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Why is translating a website a good idea?

As your business expands its reach overseas, catering to a diverse audience becomes more and more crucial.

Translating your website not only allows you to communicate effectively with potential customers in different countries, but it also boosts your credibility and brand image.

Benefits of translating a business website

Reach a broader audience

To expand your business internationally, you need to reach a wider audience and win more customers. One effective way to do this is to make your website available in a number of different languages.

This allows you to attract visitors from diverse cultural backgrounds and places. Such a global approach helps you expand brand awareness and build a positive reputation on a scale that goes beyond your home country.

Added to that, speaking directly to customers in their native language gives you a competitive edge in gaining trust and establishing strong customer relationships.

Considering other foreign languages – such as Spanish, for example – becomes even more significant given that it's the third most-used language across the world.

There are around 475 million native Spanish speakers worldwide and the language is widely spoken in many countries. By offering your website in Spanish, you can tap into a vast market and potentially attract millions of Spanish-speaking customers.

Build trust and credibility

Making your business trustworthy and credible in people's eyes becomes even more significant in a globalised world where your business is catering to diverse audiences.

Translating a website into the audience's language plays a pivotal role in earning their trust. When customers find information in their native language, they see your brand as respectful and considerate towards their needs and feel you understand and value them.

A multilingual website not only demonstrates respect but also shows you're committed to giving people a personalised and enhanced customer experience.

When you invest in translating your website, you come across as more professional and reliable. This helps give potential customers a positive impression of your brand, which ultimately leads to an increased sense of loyalty.

Improving search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) becomes a different prospect when there are a number of different languages in play. So, here are some things to think about in order to improve SEO for each language you're using.

  • Keywords: Thorough keyword research is crucial. You need to identify and analyse the keywords that are relevant to each target language and incorporate them strategically throughout your website's content.

    By doing so, the website has a higher chance of ranking well for these keywords on search engine results pages like Google.

    Incorporating relevant keywords in the URL slugs is beneficial for multilingual SEO. By including target language keywords in the URL, search engines can better understand the content and rank it accordingly in relevant search queries.

  • URL structure: It's recommended that you have language-specific URLs, with each language version of the website having its own subdirectory. This helps search engines understand the different language versions and serve them to users accordingly.

  • Sitemap: You must also submit a multilingual sitemap. This helps search engines crawl and index all language versions of the website more efficiently, which gives you better visibility in search results.

  • Hreflang tags and codes: These tags inform search engines about the language and geographic targeting of each webpage. Consequently, you avoid issues around duplicate content and make sure the correct language version is displayed to the appropriate users.

Creating a better user experience

Giving visitors a great user experience (UX) is crucial for your website's success.

One way to enhance UX is by translating the website into the user's native language. This not only helps them to better understand the content but also improves their navigation around the site.

Translating your website into the user's native language helps remove any language barriers. When users can read and comprehend the content in a language they're familiar with, they're more likely to engage with the site.

This increased engagement leads to lower bounce rates, as users are more likely to stay on the website for longer periods of time.

Furthermore, website translation encourages people to explore what you're offering in more depth. When users can understand the information on the website, they're more inclined to click through to different sections and pages. This both boosts user engagement and makes conversions more likely.

Increasing sales and conversion rates

Language plays a fundamental role in effective communication, and customers are more likely to trust a company that speaks their language.

They will feel more comfortable and engaged when they can navigate your site, read your product descriptions and interact with your customer service team in their own language.

When customers see that you've made the effort to tailor your content to their language and culture, they perceive your brand as more trustworthy and reliable. This usually makes them more likely to convert into loyal customers, which boosts your sales and conversion rates.

Localising the checkout process is vital. Customers will abandon their shopping carts if they encounter language barriers or unfamiliar payment methods at checkout.

By offering payment options that your audience use most often, you reduce any friction and increase the chances that customers will complete their purchases.


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What does it cost to translate a website? How can I budget for it?

Several things play into the cost of website translation, so bear them in mind when deciding what type of translation you can afford.

  • Size of the project: The number of words, pages or even sections to translate will affect the overall cost.

  • Languages involved: Translating a website into a widely spoken language like Spanish or French may be less expensive than translating it into a less common language.

  • Turnaround time: Urgent or high-priority translations typically have higher rates because they require dedicated resources and a faster completion time. On the other hand, allowing for a longer delivery time may result in a lower cost.

  • Type of translation service: Machine translation or automated tools can cost little but may be much less accurate. Human translation using professional translators or a translation agency, while more expensive, guarantees higher quality and accuracy.



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