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April 17, 2012

Website Translation and Localization: Misconceptions

Last updated on May 18th, 2021 at 12:29 pm

In today’s digital era, the internet has rapidly become the single most popular medium for searching information. As a result, businesses involved in multicultural markets must now expand their website to meet the diverse linguistic needs of their entire client audience. This “expansion” is called website translation and localization and is becoming a growing necessity in the world of commerce.

However, the motive behind this post is to shed the truth on a few misconceptions many people have on this topic of website translation and localization. Many tend to overlook the complex and time-consuming efforts required to accurately produce a translated website that will satisfy foreign clients from distant nations and attract their business.

Here are 3 basic misconceptions at a glance:

1. A translation agency can quote and perform the translation with just the URL of the website.

a. In reality, the structure of the site and the platform used to store the content must be taken into account. Agencies need to be able to extract content through different tools. It is different to receive .html files than to extract content from a dynamic site stored in a Content Management System (CMS).

2. Translating keywords into different languages will be effective SEO for my multilingual website.

a. Keywords almost never translate smoothly, and might not be the phrase of choice for searching in the target culture. One must recreate the keywords in the target language using experienced native speakers who understand the meaning behind the original keyword and have the experience to research for equivalent keywords.

3. Using machine translation will suffice when translating my website (or any document for that manner).

a. Using human translators is a must. Although large providers like Google and Microsoft have released free translation web tools, one should not rely on them. These machine translators often produce awkward grammar and phrasing that appear unattractive and unprofessional from a client’s perspective.

When advertising and marketing your company’s products and/or services in global markets, the best approach is to plan in advance and devote enough time to determine your needs.  There are several elements to consider when expanding to a multilingual site from an existing site or when planning to develop an entire multilingual site. Those elements can be group into four main categories:

  • Audience
  • Budget
  • Translation process
  • Technical Considerations

Please read our following four posts, which elaborate on these important categories. These posts will explore: your audience, your budget, the translation process, and the technical aspects of website translation.

If you want to share your experience in website translation and localization, please leave us a comment, send us an email to or call us at 1-866-389-5036.

Sergio Ruffolo
Sergio Ruffolo
Sergio has more than 25 years of multinational experience providing consulting services and leading IT organizations in Africa, Asia and America, which has given him plenty interesting and insightful lessons to teach about global business. He is fluent in Spanish and English, in addition to conversational Portuguese. He has lived in more than 12 cities around the world, moving around and working in different cultures has left him with a real global perspective. Sergio is a real citizen of the world.