Things to avoid when translating a website
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This is a guest post by Jenny Brown, a freelance writer. She loves photography, travelling and learning new languages.

International websites

International websites

Translating a website isn’t as simple as putting the information into a translation tool and copying and pasting the result, and doing this without checking the translation thoroughly can have catastrophic results, often losing the meaning of the text or even changing it completely.  The writing on your website is written specifically to give information and sell your goods or services; this is its purpose, so after translating this to another language you need to ensure it is still effective in producing the desired results.  The intelligent thing to do would be to hire professional translation services that will have real life translators that can translate your website and ensure it retains its purpose.

If you do not want to, or cannot afford to, hire professional translation services to translate your website, and instead intend on translating it yourself, then there are some things you should be aware of, some things you should avoid doing at all costs:

  • Avoid using a translation program, such as Google translate, to translate your website.  This will translate each word individually, but will not ensure the content as a whole retains its message or serves its purpose.
  • Avoid word for word translation, rather than take each word and individually translate it to the desired language take sentences and translate those instead.  This will ensure the content makes much more sense and will keep more of the flow and structure of the writing on your website, as well as ensuring the word order in the sentences are correct as this varies greatly between languages.
  • Pay particular attention to keyword research   and analysis, and always bear in mind that the keywords vary from country to country, translating the keywords from the website in its current may not have the desired result.
  • When you are translating the website, try not to think using your native language, instead try to think in the language you are translating to, this will help to make the translation seem like it was completed by a native speaker of that language.
  • Don’t think that just because you’ve ‘back-translated’ the text it is going to be correct.  Some people believe that if they’ve translated a, and then they translate it back again and it reads perfectly fine, that the translation worked perfectly fine, but this is not the case.
  • Consider the layout of your website after you have translated it, ensure all the wording fits and nothing is missing.  Often when websites are created a space is provided specifically for a word, or a phrase, but when this word or phrase is translated it changes in length, and either may not fit well or may not fit at all, leading to some parts being missed out, which is confusing for your audience.
  • Always proofread your website text after you have translated it, if possible have it read by someone who speaks the language as their native tongue, make sure it is grammatically correct, the word are spelled correctly, and that the purpose of the website remains intact.

Alternatively, you can always hire a professional translation service  to take care of everything for you, ensuring a high quality translated website for your company and enabling you to become recognised on a global scale.


Swedish Translation Services is a company owned by Tess Whitty, a freelance translator (English-Swedish), proofreader, editor, copy writer, localizer and entrepreneur.

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