“If we put Google Translate on our new French website we could get into French markets for free!
Ah – it doesn’t actually work like that. In fact for marketing, it’s a terrible idea.
Let’s start with the most important bit – SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation. Most website owners want their site to be found and well-ranked by Google and Bing, achieved by having your site optimised and indexed for your key terms such as “trail bike” or “cheap shirts”.
For indexing to happen, then those terms you want indexed have to exist in the site database, in the language you want – here, French – at the time it’s crawled by the search engine.
However, where Google Translate – or Bing Translate – translates your English website into French, it only translates what’s on the screen, and only while you are on that screen. The website database itself remains in English, so the translated key terms are never found, or indexed, by Google or Bing. Your “French website” will never appear in French search results using Google Translate this way.
“Ah, we don’t care about SEO – we drive traffic in other ways. So…?”
We’re talking then about landing or other pages to which traffic is driven through AdWords or other PPC, or via ads, newsletters, emails or social media, promotions etc.
So how about using Google Translate for THOSE? Well, actually it’s STILL a terrible idea.
You’ve invested time and money in your other language PPC campaigns (lots of money – how much are the CPCs?), and your CTRs are good – visitors are looking for your product, and Google Translate is there to translate your pages for them. But your bounce rates are appalling – what’s going on?
Almost certainly, your non-English prospects came to your site looking for good content. Instead, they found simplistic error-filled text that may bear little relation to your product – because while Bing and Google Translate are improving, their output is FAR from the quality that customer-facing content must have if it is to engage with prospects and drive those enquiries.
There’s another point to consider too, if like many companies you’ve hired professional copywriters or marketing to generate your website content. That isn’t cheap – and that expense is wasted when the content is rendered poorly into your target languages.
And one more point. In today’s connected social media world, people love sharing funny content – especially unintentional. Losing credibility has never been easier…
“So I’m no further forward with our French website then…?”
Sorry – there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and there’s no such thing as a free French website! If you’re serious about having a French website then you need to put in the same commitment as the original English one – you need to get your content professionally translated, by translators who really understand your sector and product, and who also understand the importance of the “under the bonnet” stuff on websites – alt and meta texts, links, and SEO aspects, for example. We’d be happy to help.
“We actually want the business to REALLY look French…”
Good for you! That’s a great approach.
But in that case – domain questions aside – you really need to get actual French designers involved. French websites have a very different look and “feel” to UK ones – in just the same way as do French newspapers or magazines, which have “styles” very different to those here. We work closely with an excellent French marketing company who are well placed to assist as well as cost-effective, so drop us a line!
That’s all for now – we hope this has been useful, and if you’d like your own French website – or one in any other language – we’re here to help.