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Translation and Localizing for the Japanese Market

Client success in Japan.

A Wolfestone Group client told us recently that he wanted to translate his company’s website into Japanese. We told him that no, he didn’t. The client was a little surprised until we clarified what we meant.

What he wanted was to sell his products to Japanese consumers.

The way to get it was to translate and localize the company’s website for the Japanese market.

Marathon runners don’t want to get up at 6 am on Christmas morning and run on dark, frosty roads. What they want is to win races. Putting in the “hard yards” is how they prepare. When we told our client what he wanted, we weren’t splitting hairs. We were helping him prepare to win the race

All business people want the same thing; to sell their products and services. Making your website an information hub with smart search engine optimization is a fantastic method of generating interest and revenue. Replicating that effectiveness in an unfamiliar language and culture is a tall order, but the right service provider will put in the “hard yards” for you, preparing your business for sustainable success.

Why do you need a website translation at all? Let’s look at some numbers;

91% of internet users express a strong preference for website content in their own language

82% won’t even consider buying products online in a foreign language

Statistics like that make the decision to proceed a straightforward one. Once you’ve made that decision, what are the key issues that will move you forward or hold you back?

Can you be sure that the language content has been translated in a way that considers cultural variations in terminology, phrasing and colloquialism?

Can you be sure that symbols, graphics, pictures, colors, and general layout have been proofed for their cultural applicability?

Can you be sure that translated text won’t expand or contract in a way that affects the site layout?

Text expands and contracts in different ways and for different reasons. Grammar, terminology, and sentence structure are all factors. For example, a 1,000 word Arabic text translated into English will, on average, convert into 1,250 words, while a translation from English to Japanese might expand the text by anything up to 60%. The right translation partner will take all of this into consideration.

If you’re considering a machine-translated website, our advice is simple. Don’t.

It’s impossible for any machine or software to fully recognize the cultural nuances of your target language. There will always be words, phrases, acronyms and shortcuts that only a professional translator will use correctly. If you agree that your website is a sales tool, then you need a skilled person to capture the nuance and flow of your language in the same way that you need a skilled person to follow the nuance and flow of a business conversation.

You should also be aware that machine-translated websites are generally recognized and flagged up by Google as ‘non-quality’ sites. If Google considers the wording of your website to be of inferior standard, the site is downgraded in results page rankings, torpedoing your chances of high levels of traffic.

The effect of a poorly translated website on your brand image can be disastrous. It’s the equivalent of making a bad TV commercial and leaving it on the air indefinitely. Online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe has produced research demonstrating that a single website spelling mistake can cut online sales by as much as 50%. Even with correct spelling, it’s all too easy to make an unfortunate first impression.

“You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid”

(A word-for-word English translation taken from the website of a Japanese hotel)

You have to wonder what kind of tourist would choose to stay in a hotel after reading that, and you also have to wonder if the hotel would want them there.

It’s universally accepted that doing business without an effective website is no longer a viable option. We believe it’s only a matter of time before the same consensus applies to website localization for exporters.

A Wolfestone website localization project is a consultative process that goes far deeper than simply translating words. We work with you to target the most receptive and lucrative markets, we tailor your message and we help you to get what you want. Sounds easy? It isn’t. It takes years of experience, specialist knowledge and absolute commitment to customer service.

That’s why clients come to Wolfestone Group.



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