Filtering by Tag: content

Website Translation - Part 1

A   good content strategy is built around understanding who your customers are. This enables you to present your message in  the best way possible.  When it comes to website  text, you’d better be speaking in the primary language of your customer.

Going global?

If your customers and clients tend to be in the same region  as you are, the idea of translating your website into different languages might  seem over the top.  A quick check of your  weekly stats will show a few visits from Poland and Saudi Arabia, but they’re  unlikely to be writing checks.  However, when you consider that America has the world’s  second largest Spanish speaking population, & in places like New Mexico, Spanish  is spoken by over 40% of the people (with California not far behind,) you  start to wonder if you’re missing an opportunity.

No ghost in the machine

Technology has come a long way and there are now several  sites and plugins that will translate your site automatically for you –  fantastic – install the plugin, hit translate and voila! – Global business here  you come.

Stop!

The thing about machine translation, actually, all  translation come to think of it – is that you have no idea what your site now  reads like in the foreign language.  This  is a big problem.  The reality of machine  translation nowadays is that it tends to make you sound like a three year old  on acid. 

Fish tank handbag shandy – Buy Me!

Your website is not like you on vacation where your charm  and winning ways can get you past incorrect grammar and inappropriate noun  selection.  Your website has one  opportunity to present your case and you’d better be relying on something  better than a machine – an example from Scotland:

A fire brigade leaflet produced for Strathclyde Fire and  Rescue Service offering advice on how to escape from your home.

Written in English the text read,

“Never jump straight out of a window, lower yourself onto cushions”

This was translated into Urdu, the result was very  interesting. It read…

“Never jump out of a window straight. Put yourself on a  donkey and come down.”

(Courtesy of Le Blog)

You get what you pay for

It is better to have no translation than one that presents you  as an idiot.  If you’re thinking of  offering your site in a different language because it is cheap to do, stop.  Translation is a very human skill and as a result,  you get what you pay for.  Cultural  nuances aside, grammar and spelling are just as important regardless of what  language you present in;  are you sure  your assistant's second cousin who has been to Mexico is going to nail all that?

We recently launched a French version of a site we did for  an international US corporation who wanted to consolidate their UK, French and  Czech businesses.  Although the French site  used exactly the same architecture and code, it took several additional weeks to  deliver due to linguistically derived modifications to the page text.   Sometimes things that look good and read well  in one language just don’t, literally, translate.

Work with Professionals

We recently had the pleasure of spending some time with Nathalie  Schon, a professional translator with expertise in English, French, German and  Italian.  Originally from Metz, France,  Nath manages to move round the world, working remotely for companies like Sony  as she translates their movies from the beach in Hawaii.  Our next two posts on translation will cover  a recent interview we did with Nath on the challenges of website translation.

Make us laugh

Got any insane translation cock-ups you want to share –  leave them in the comments below.

Content – Are You Sure You Can Handle It?

I WANT YOU to write blog posts! by Search INfluence on Flickr

You get it!

Adding quality content to your website is the best way of moving up through the search engines – whether it’s text, video, audio, images – whatever – so long as it is relevant and interesting – the more new content you add the more likely it is that people are going to talk about you.

So why do the vast majority of people find it so hard to actually follow through and do this?

Producing Quality Content Takes Time

The majority of our clients are small to medium size businesses – if you’ve got less than ten employees it’s unlikely that you have the budget for a dedicated online marketer – so – whose job is it to write the copy for the website?

We can guarantee that the person with Marketing in their title is rushed off their feet with traditional channels - the longer term ROI of online / social media marketing just doesn’t stack up in the short term; phone a client or write a blog post – guess which one loses?

Writing Quality Content is a Skill

We’ve written this before but it’s worth repeating: just because you watch House religiously doesn’t mean you can diagnose your own illness and a passion for the Practice doesn’t make you a lawyer. Sure you’ve been writing most of your life but it doesn’t mean you’re any good at it.

Writing for the web is different than writing a letter or an essay or even a marketing brochure – there is a structure and an underlying logic to writing a blog post – it isn’t hard to learn but like the professions above, you have to practice it to get good.

Setting Yourself Up to Fail

As a small business owner myself I think the reason people struggle with producing copy is that they don’t allocate a significant value to it. Because they’re smart and capable individuals they look at the act of producing web copy and assume that they can do it themselves - why pay someone for something that you’ve been doing since you were three?

Of course what happens next is that life gets busy, time gets short and if they do actually allocate time to write they suddenly find that it’s hard to convey what they want in an interesting way. Be honest – if you have ten things to do – which do you do first – the ones you know how to do or the ones you have to work at?

Outsource the Writing of Content

We’re working with a couple of different clients who have some copy for their sites but need it optimized for SEO – keyword phrases researched, text tweaked, re-presented and organized. Good copywriters can charge anywhere from $35 an hour up to the $100+ - we tend to work with people in the $50 to $75 an hour range and are delighted with the quality we receive.

If you can establish a relationship with a writer who over time gets to know your business – where you can have a 15 minute Skype conversation with them where you relate the idea of what you want to get across – maybe provide a couple of links to sites – have them produce the copy, tag it and then post it to your site – how much is that worth to you?

This of course has sparked the idea for the next post – which will talk about online marketing spends shifting – I wonder what companies are doing with the hundreds of dollars a month they were spending on “SEO” – link building, multiple sites, etc – do you think they’re now spending it on copywriting?

Image Credit: I WANT YOU to write blog posts! by Search INfluence on Flickr

New Content Consulting – Part 1

So what’s this “New Content” approach all about?  Why is everyone buzzing about needing a “Content  Strategy” and should you have one too?  We  will break these questions down over the next few posts, but for now, let’s  have a look at why content is becoming more and more important. Content is Zarg

Yes we’re all aware of the expression “Content is King,” but  it seems that content is turning into Emperor and Galactic overlord as well....  If you’ve been reading Kilted Chaos over the years  and have kept even a tiny bit of an eye on SEO trends, you will know that the  number one way to move up through the search engines is to add new content to  your website.   And we’re not talking  about hiring an off-shore firm to produce ten 300 word articles a week; that  worked for a while a few years back, but now the content has to be real,  relevant and compelling.

Fool Me once…

One of the major reasons we think that the focus is turning  back to content is that people are getting used to how the Internet, and in  particular search works.  They may not  have a clue about the underlying algorithms but they have built up a huge personal  store of information based on their own experiences.

We have been marketed to for years, decades, centuries; no  matter how cool Jon Hamm makes advertising seem, most people would much rather  not be sold to.  Years of clicking on  paid links that lead to horribly designed sites that don’t actually offer the  best price, have taught people that the left hand side of Google is far more  likely to yield a better result than the right.

Customers as  Publishers

With the left hand side of Google being driven by community  derived importance (and yes I know that’s loose but I’m not going to sum up Google’s  search algorithm in a sentence) i.e. – how many links are coming into a page,  it’s interesting to consider just how large the “community” has grown in the  last few years.

In the old days you used to run around, submitting your  website to search engines, hoping to get into the Dmoz registry and  establishing link exchanges.  The thing  was – you were dealing with people just like you – other businesses who had  something to sell.  Most “normal” people  didn’t have a website, most links didn’t come from the actual customer and hell  – over half the population wasn’t even online.   Check out this graphic:

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

While you’re sitting there gob smacked by the figures, let’s  throw a few more at you:

- Number of US Facebook users in July 2008 – 27.8 million - Number of US Facebook users in July 2010 – 125.9 million - Estimated # of Blogs at start of 2009 – 200 million - Estimated # of blogs now – 400 million

Here’s the thing; it isn’t just that there are a lot more  people online; it is that these people have their own pages, their own websites  – they are their own publishers and they can publish your link.

Write For Yourself

With so much content being published from so many different  sources, it makes sense that only the good quality content is going to rise to  the top.  It is no longer automated bots  and other businesses that are sharing links and driving traffic – it is your  customers.  Customers don’t speak SEO –  they don’t like to read paragraphs stuffed with keywords – they’re just like  you and me – they want to read well thought out articles that add something of  value – that gives them knowledge and insight that they didn‘t have  before.  And if the content is really  compelling, they may well forward it, tweet it, share it and even write about  it – and that is where the SEO juice really starts to kick in.

Yes you should absolutely write with SEO and targeted  keywords in mind – of course they should be featured and highlighted within  your text but, write for yourself first.   Write as if you were talking to a colleague in a bar, write as if you  were telling your mother about how your business works – start there and then  tweak it until you have your target words in the text.

Bottom line – someone may find you because they stumbled  upon a keyword heavy article, however, unless it reads well, they aren’t going  to forward it.

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