How important is it to translate a website?

In a recent poll, 90% of internet users in Europe would visit a site in their own language when given the choice. Meanwhile, 53% would still use a site if it was in English rather than their native language. However, despite this relatively high figure, these users would not necessarily be happy about the lack of information available in their own language, with 44% of respondents stating that they felt they did not necessarily receive all the facts when the website was only available in another language.

Amongst the EU Member States, the figures related to the number of internet users who used sites in other languages vary considerably between the countries. In countries such as Greece, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus, for example, between 90% and 93% of users said they would use a site that was only available in a language other than their own, whereas in countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy and Ireland, this figure dropped to between 52% and 85%.

A glance at the website analytics of any website that receives a decent amount of traffic will support these figures – visitors will not remain on a webpage for long if they cannot clearly understand its content. Although many Europeans do have English as a second or third language, any online shopper is 4 times more likely to buy from a website in their own language.

A large proportion of respondents said they use another language when shopping online for products or services, but the number of visitors put off by the fact that the site is not available in their native language must be taken into account. As Ben Rooney says in his article for the Wall Street Journal blog, European web users demand local language sites, or put another way: “translation represents a wasted business opportunity”. If 53% of users would use a site if it was only available in English, think of the 47% who would not. By simply translating the website, nearly half of potential users would be invited to use the site. Just 18% of users agreed that they would “frequently or always buy products in a foreign language”. This means 82%, a huge percentage of potential buyers, would not. In addition to website promotion techniques, such as search engine optimisation and marketing, translating a website can help to attract a large number of foreign visitors, ultimately increasing sales and profit for those companies who make the effort to localise.