It is always a tough question for UK companies that have excelled in their home market and are looking to expand: what international territories can we move into? Content writing services by their very nature excel in written language, and when the language changes there is a great deal of difficulty in moving to another territory.
Many of the same rules still apply however, and it is very possible for you to take a successful business model that works in the UK and adapt into a language such as French. In some cases however, changing language of your content writing services may not bring you the added return you may expect.
English as the World’s Language
There is little doubt that English is the world’s premier language. With many of the world’s most influential countries speaking it natively it has come to dominate the world’s media, as exemplified by content writing services, and many around the world have realised that without English they will fail to succeed in any international ambition.
Examples of Dominance
English is one of the three languages used in the EU and the most commonly used of the 6 official languages of the UN. . Interestingly, English is also most commonly used in the EU despite the majority of the cities used for meetings being held in French speaking cities. German is also the most common mother tongue in the EU, however more than 50% of Europe understands English, so it is the most commonly used. Even in websites, committees, organisations and meetings representing the whole of Asia, English will be the most commonly used language, despite being an official language in only a few very small Asian territories. There is no dominant Asian language that has had a bigger influence on the whole continent than English has and websites for these organisations will use content writing services from the UK or the US to rank higher on Google.com, and will then work on the primary languages of their member states.
How it Became so Dominant
While the UK is clearly significant in the spread of the language, after all the language is called ‘English’ and originated in England, it’s influence can probably be attributed to America in more recent centuries. Without the British Empire that colonised significant parts of North America, Oceania and even parts of Asia like Singapore and Hong Kong, the language would never have spread. However the reason that more and more people are learning it in this century and the previous one has a lot to do with America’s position as a World power, along with their cultural exports in music, television, film and now content writing services on the internet (although the UK does run them close on music).
The Motivation to Learn
If a non English speaker has dreams of a successful career outside of their own country, English gives them global mobility. American and British universities are commonly regarded as the best in the world. The chances are they will end up doing business with American or British companies, or expatriates representing those countries. Even if they don’t, they may well end up dealing in English with another person from a non English speaking country. Added to all that, they are constantly subjected to, or treated to depending on their view, media content in English.
On the Internet
Since the internet was primarily developed in America, the initial content was all in English before other countries began to get involved. The biggest web businesses are primarily from the United States, and have English as their prominent language on their sites.
Rise of Mandarin
Mandarin looks set to actually overtake English as the most popular language used on the internet. In the latest figures released in 2011, Mandarin was less than 100 million internet users behind English, and this figure is expected to grow and overtake English by the time the next set of figures come out due to the rising availability of the internet in China.
However in a different study of the most commonly used languages for the internet’s most popular sites tells a different story. 55% of the most popular websites are in English . So with English proving so popular, is it necessary to translate your site at all?
Should You Translate?
If your website is already being marketed to an international audience – eg it ranks on the first page of Google under a commonly searched for term, then you needn’t expect that your page only receives views from English speaking countries, you may well be receiving page views from other countries too.
However research suggests that while UK news sites like ‘The Guardian’ or ‘Mail Online’ may prosper in other countries despite not being the native language, 90% of EU users were found to prefer reading in their own language. E-commerce sites will suffer as people don’t trust their language ability enough to be sure they understood an offer and the small print. While content writing services may appear to be simply about sharing content, the purpose is often to lead to a conversion where the customer invest in a product or service on the website. While it is nice to have them read the content, if they will never be willing to actually purchase then the effort is worthless.
You should also look beyond the territory when thinking about language and target market. Demographics make a big difference when it comes to language ability. Globalisation has made a big difference and the majority of the English speakers in foreign countries will tend to be the younger generation who have been encouraged to learn at a young age.
Similarly interests and hobbies can affect language ability. If content writing services produce material about their hobby entirely in English, people will be motivated to learn. While nowhere in Europe is as bad as the UK, France is renowned as a country which prefers to speak it’s mother tongue. If you meet a Frenchman travelling outwith France however, you will find that English has been essential for their ambitions.
Level of Investment in Translation of Content Writing Services
There are different levels of commitment you can make to having your website translated to your target market. You can simply use Google Translate, Bing or Babelfish translators to make your website more accessible to foreign users. This will certainly give them a better idea of what your website is about, however automatic translators are not as reliable as human translators. Your text will appear robotic and in a lot of instances will not make complete sense in the foreign language, though it should be enough for them to get the message, if not in a pleasing way.
A more reliable method is to get the website translated by a human translator. This has many benefits for e-commerce sites as users will be able to navigate the website and make purchases, however it still has a fundamental flaw on the SEO (search engine optimisation) side of things.
If your website has achieved a search ranking on Google UK through a well planned SEO strategy don’t assume this will translate to success on Google.fr. If your website’s content makes little reference to France in its content, why would Google deem it relevant to the French?
If you are serious about getting your site seen by non English speakers, you will need a keyword strategy to complement your translation. Google and other search engines look down on automatic translation in the opinions of many SEO experts, and this would be consistent with the values Google sets out when making policy decisions. If you are looking to seriously try and gain a presence on Google.fr or another foreign search engine, you would be best to invest in foreign content writing services to implement a strategy to rank well on foreign keyword.
Localisation is seen as a greater form of taking business to another country than mere translation. Localisation is based on understanding the country, its culture and values as well as the nuances of the language. If you are a fan of English idioms, you will understand how many may have trouble understanding these abroad.
If a company selling suits offered a discount on a suit for customers celebrating their birthday, and called this promotion ‘The Birthday Suit’ you could see how this may cause giggles in Britain. This mistake has been made elsewhere. The Vauxhall Nova, a popular brand name in Britain, cannot be used in Spanish speaking countries as ‘No Va’ translates to ‘it doesn’t go’, the worst possible name for a vehicle.
Even between countries that speak the same language there can be issues. Using the word ‘coger’ in Spain is perfectly normal; it means ‘to take’, but in Mexico which also speaks Spanish, it means something much more vulgar.
Foreign Content Writing Services Teams
Localisation involves hiring foreign content writing services teams, marketing teams – essentially a large part of the business process that has to be duplicated from the UK team, but this is what is required to most successfully take a British business into a foreign territory, even if no one from the business even sets foot there. Being an online business does not help you skip many of the difficulties of operating internationally.
Dipping a Toe
If you aren’t convinced about the viability of moving to a different territory perhaps automatic translation is the best short term and cheap solution. You can set up a variety of website analytics to find out the success of a small investment and whether a greater investment in the territory would be worthwhile. You can instruct your UK content writing services teams to take a more global outlook for the time being while you decide on the long term strategy.