How to translate your website to Chinese
With Chinese making up almost a quarter of the world’s online population and the fastest growing market, it is the biggest opportunity you may ever have to sell your goods and services without even having to get on a plane.
Chinese consumers are keen to buy western products – but they have to be able to find your offering. And you must find them! Certainly not on Twitter or Facebook. There are so many platforms, so many payment options, so much hype.
One simple tool that many businesses overlook in the flurry for TikTok (Douyin in China) or social media influencers is the importance of a website – it is like the foundation to build from. You already have an English website, now you just need to change it into Chinese. It is not as hard as some make out.
Chinese consumers will always want to check you out – on social AND online – so a website is a no-brainer. But it has to be in Chinese. It could be your secret weapon!
Why Translate your website
You would think translators would have been panicking when google translate came along. These days you can plug in a website in any language and get a translation in any language. Job done. Except google is banned in China and maybe a machine translation might not serve you well, as the following website bloopers revealed:
- 30% off (7折优惠) was reflected as 70% off – might make a big difference to the bottom line.
- “What screw will you use” rather than “What’s On” （上什么）. A screw loose here!
Interestingly, over 60% of webpages on the internet are in English (Wikipedia), however English is spoken by only 13% as native; Chinese is spoken by 1.4 billion people; but only 1.4% of the world’s web pages are in Chinese (Wikipedia)! There might be 2 billion people in the world learning English, but – guess what – they will be wanting content in their native languages when they go online.
As of January 2020, English was the most popular language online, representing 25.9 percent of worldwide internet users. Chinese was ranked second with a 19.4 percent share. The top ten languages accounted for 76.9 percent of global internet users. The large share of Chinese-language content is due to the fact that China is by far the country with the most internet users worldwide (statista.com). Chinese is 8th on the list of daily page views (behind English, Japanese, Spanish, German, Russian, French and Italian). It will increase rapidly, we believe.
Something your competitors are not doing
Chinese are also hooked on social media like WeChat, Little Red Book and Douyin. They are buying online on ecommerce platforms and getting deliveries to their door. Many of your competitors are spending all their budget on these options and forgetting their website backbone.
Every day we work with clients wanting to sell something to Chinese. There is a big opportunity to produce your web site in Chinese to grab some eyeballs and recognition with less competition than many social media platforms. At the very least, a good website or some web pages in Chinese can set you apart from the competition that didn’t bother or used a dodgy plug in translation.
People buy in their language
The European Commission conducted a survey of language preferences in EU countries and found 9 out of 10 internet users will choose sites in their native languages always and 20% won’t even look at a site that isn’t in their native language; 42% won’t purchase from a website that isn’t in their language; over 56% said native language was more important than price. EU citizens generally speak more than one language, so we can only conclude from these stats that a Chinese audience would be even more emphatic in buying from Chinese language websites.
A Harvard Business review survey backed this up finding that 72% of consumers were more likely to buy from a site in their native language.
You’ve got an English website – How do you produce web pages in Chinese
Well the first thing to consider is who you are targeting. There are two versions of written Chinese. Are you targeting China, just people from Mainland China? Or do you want to target Chinese everywhere?
Secondly, consider your current website content. What products or services or information is relevant to them?
You can save a lot of time and money by narrowing your focus. Our team would be pleased to help identify and even adapt content to help.
Is straight translation going to be the best approach?
What type of navigation and design will suit your target audience?
What keywords will work? It may not mean just translating your English keywords – research into the market, competitors and buyer preferences is essential.
There is a great Chinese Firewall in place that blocks many western channels (eg Google and Facebook); it also blocks some websites or at least slows down the speed and content is forever being blacklisted just for using a word China doesn’t like. A good solution might be to host in Hong Kong or China. That involves a lot of paperwork and you need to have a legal entity in China. However there are always solutions. Chin Communications has a China-based cloud server which can help you solve this problem easily.
Some professional guidance will help you answer many of these questions and likely save you considerable budget. This will ensure that your money is well spent.
Here are the keys to a successful Chinese website
- Identify target audience/s
- Have relevant products, services, information for your target audience
- Approach – seek advice on whether you duplicate all pages, produce a single page, prepare a pruned down version, or recreate.
- Design – is your current English design going to appeal – localisation of design and content is an important consideration as well as being mobile responsive
- Hosting options – so the website can be seen quickly and not blocked
- Translate or copywrite (or a bit of both) – to quickly grab your audience attention and build up connections
- SEO – in order to rank, some investment in keywords and optimisation will be a good idea – many of the same principles apply as at home in terms of building your presence, updating content and analysing data.
- Point of contact – calls, emails, or WeChat? How to deal with communications in Chinese?
Don’t forget to consider social media options to complement your web presence. Chinese are more likely to find you first on social media and then check out your website.
Use google translate to assist with understanding, but do not rely on it for production of professional information representing you online. Do not use plugin translations on your site.
Keep the content flowing and up to date and use QR codes to help especially with links to social channels