Content, Contenido, Inhalt: How To Do Multilingual Content

Let’s set the specifics of F-commerce and m-commerce aside for a minute and talk about multinational e-commerce. No, “multinational” is not code for a new tablet-smartphone-ultrabook hybrid device. Multinational commerce–which requires multinational branding–is what smart companies are already doing, and what big businesses with US-only online presence should start doing. If you’re still caught up in the excitement of this month’s mainstream media obsession, get a Hunger Games fix with this basic example of multinational branding.

Behind the scenes, Google‘s new multilingual markup support will help brands maintain similar/identical content on different regional websites, as well as translated content intended for different countries, without tripping the duplicate content filter and screwing with SERPs rankings. Arguably, this change makes taking care of the code the easiest part of developing multilingual sites.

Selling to other countries and in other languages has a number of challenges, not the least of which is translating your content while maintaining meaning and local appeal. Econsultancy calls this “transcreation.” Transcreation takes into account linguistic and cultural idiosyncrasies when producing a country-specific retail site. After translating your content, tailor the new text to the new language so it sounds natural. (Reckless translations often make better jokes than shopping experiences.)

The article also reminds us that translation is about more than just the words: modify your images, themes, and colors to fit your target culture, as well. And, most importantly, companies need to “get into the head of your ideal customer in each market” for successful multinational branding. If you’re not sure how to do that, start with the Econsultancy article that sums up seven tips for international commerce. I’m adding another tip to the pile, courtesy of Chris Liversidge on Search Engine Land: make sure all the content on a non-English page is in your target language, not just some of it.

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