Content Translation: The Complete Guide

Adedamola Ojedokun
03 May 2024

5 min. read


Content drives traffic, traffic drives sales. So far so simple.

Unfortunately, it gets more complicated when you try to translate content for a new market. Worse yet, multiple markets.

But worry not, this comprehensive guide to content translation will help you avoid pitfalls and increase your global presence.

What is content translation?

Content translation is the conversion of content into another language. You might want to translate your content to educate, engage, and, ultimately, convert your audience. With this goal in mind, you need to go beyond word-for-word translation and also modify your content.

Importance of content translation for global expansion

If your content is in English, it’s already pretty accessible to many customers worldwide. Why bother with translation?

Food for thought: 40% of shoppers won’t buy from websites that are not in their language. Clearly, content translation does matter. Let’s see how it can benefit your business:

  • Expanded search: 76% of online shoppers prefer buying products with descriptions available in their native language, while 40% won’t buy anything from websites in other languages. Tap into this pool.
  • Organic traffic: Translation adds relevant keywords in various languages and improves visibility. It’s a feedback loop of success.
  • Enhanced UX: Get more time spent on your site, higher conversion rates, and lower bounce rates from customers who engage with your content, trust your company, and remember your brand.
  • Customer loyalty: Win your customers over by making them feel seen and appreciated. Build authentic connections, leading to repeat purchases, referrals, and positive reviews.

How to translate content

Content translation, regardless of scale, needs a strategy. Clarify what you want to achieve with content translation and align your efforts with overarching business objectives:

  • Traffic potential of translated web pages
  • Potential revenue
  • Potential brand awareness Now that you have clear objectives, here is a step-by-step cheat sheet for your content translation journey.

1. Export website content

If you want to translate website content, it needs to be exported first. Follow these steps to export WordPress content to CSV:

  1. Install the free version of the WP All Import plugin
  2. Click Activate
  3. In the WP All Export section, select New Export
  4. In the Export Type sub-menu, select Spreadsheet
  5. Click CSV File
  6. Click Download

Exporting WordPress content to CSV

You can also export WordPress files as HTML. It goes like this:

  1. Install the free version of the Simply Static plugin
  2. Click Activate
  3. In the Include/Exclude section, choose pages for conversion
  4. Go to Simply Static > Generate
  5. Click Generate Static files

Exporting a WordPress website as HTML files

Other content management systems (CMS) usually have built-in exporting capabilities, allowing you to extract content without resorting to third-party plugins. Here’s how it’s done in Wix:

  1. In the Site languages section of the dashboard, click the ellipsis icon
  2. From the dropdown menu, select the Export content option
  3. In the window that opens, click Export content to create a CSV file

exporting content in Wix

Pro tip: You can also export your website pages as JSON, XML, PO, or XLSX files for translation.

2. Format documents

If you want to translate content in Google Docs, DOC, DOCX, TXT, XLS, XLSX, or PPTX files, prepare them for translation:

  • DOC and DOCX documents: Disable the Track Changes feature to ensure that tracked changes are extracted by your translation solution.
  • DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, and PPTX documents: Resolve changes and comments.
  • XLS and XLSX documents: Save tabs as separate files.
  • PPTX and PDF documents: Format all text within the same line using the same font, color, and size. Different lines can have different fonts, colors, and sizes.

3. Translate content

Now that your content is set for translation, use a professional translation management system (TMS) to facilitate the process:

  1. Sign up to Centus
  2. In the Project dashboard, click New project

creating a new proeject in Centus

  1. Enter the project name and choose the source and target languages

choosing languages in Centus

  1. Click Create project
  2. In the Imports section, click Select a file

importing files in Centus

  1. Add your content files and click Import

Now everything is ready for translation. Whether you do it manually or with the help of machine translation engines, Centus makes it incredibly easy.

Here’s the drill:

  1. In the Editor section, you will see your content keys and values
  2. Click empty values and choose among available translation options: Google Translate, DeepL translate, and Microsoft Translate. Alternatively, enter translations manually or pull them from the translation memory.

Centus editor

  1. Preview the translated document and open the Export section
  2. In the dropdown menu, choose the preferred file format
  3. Click Download export

exporting files in Centus

You did it! Now your content is translated and ready to go live.

Content translation and localization: What’s the difference?

Translation means directly converting a message into another language. It is more about text, whereas localization is a transformation of the entire product and user experience for local audiences. This might include changing images, colors, and symbols along with their cultural meanings and subtle connotations.

Content translation mistakes to avoid

Even with the best strategy on paper, you are still bound to run into translation challenges. Here are some of the most common:

Incomplete content briefing

Make sure to provide your translators with sufficient contest and background information about your brand’s voice, values, target audience, and project goals. It’s easier to avoid misunderstanding than to clean up the mess of inconsistent translation.

Poor quality control

Never assume your experts provide flawless translations. Always review for accuracy, consistency, and cultural appropriateness before publishing your content translation for the whole world to see.

Lack of consistency

Allowing different translators to interpret terminology independently leads to variations and inconsistency within the project or across multiple different projects. To avoid inconsistency, use CAT tools with terminology management and translation memory features.

Lack of cultural nuance

Sometimes even experts might translate content too literally or overlook cultural sensitivities causing, at best, misunderstanding and, at worst, offense to your audience.

Lack of SEO optimization

Without an SEO strategy, your customers might not find your perfectly translated treasure trove. Follow our multilingual SEO guide to ensure your translated content rocks the rankings.

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