Is it worthwhile to translate SAAS sites?

I was thinking about translating my SAAS site at https://wordtohtml.net/ into other languages with a view to increasing users from those countries.

Most of my users are USA and UK, but I am wondering if I had a German version would it increase German users? Would Google Germany rank the site higher?

2020-04-17_10-19-05

Has anyone any experience of translating their apps or sites? Is it worth doing?

Any advice is appreciated.

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Hello,

being based in Montreal, I have a SAAS in french en english.

You need to evaluate if it’s worth the cost to have your app in other languages. That will mean more work to first make the app multilingual and then for future features.

Are you able to translate quickly? For example are you fluent in german? I’m asking because we’re translating ourselves as we are french native speakers.

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Two points:

DNSimple has been in business for 10 years. We serve people around the world. We’ve only ever offered English as the language in our services.

Translating to another language has a host of implicit costs, from signaling that you will offer support in that language, to the barrier for new functionality because you have to support all the various languages.

Ultimately you need to decide if it’s essential to translate or not.

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Please note that if you have a site or app available in additional language, users will also ask about user manual and customer service in this language.

Definitely.

Google has some guidelines to follow for multi-lingual websites. Follow them, and you’ll definitely find the German version of the site rank better for German-speaking users.

Going for a language other than English is a cool SEO tactic. On English language sites it can be really hard to rank well for good keywords due to the intense competition. Meanwhile, in other languages you can do much better.

German is a good starting point for an additional language. That’s because, between Germany, Austria, and parts of Switzerland you’ve got a large, wealthy market that sees value in spending money on tools that help business.

Feature Upvote does well in the German-speaking market, due to the German version of our home page.

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It’s something I’m thinking about regularly, but until now I’ve decided against it. Translations incur a serious cost, both one-time (re-work your software so that it is translatable), and ongoing (every change in user-visible strings needs to be translated into all supported languages).

In my case, most of my customers have to speak English anyway, in order to read electronic part datasheets. I decided not to do any translations and stay simple — it’s probably losing me some customers, but then everything is a compromise.

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Thanks Steve, your implementation works well. Do you also detect the users browser language and redirect based on it?

No, I make a point of not doing this.

Google does a good job of sending people to the correct language to match the user’s searching language, browser settings, etc.

Thanks Steve. Without giving specific numbers the increase in German customers was worth the hassle of doing the translation?

In my case, definitely.

Picking up even one or two additional customers per month for a B2B SaaS with a good customer lifetime value (LTV) makes it very much worthwhile. Our customer LTV is roughly $2,000, so it has been a clear gain.

It might be less clear for you, if your LTV is lower.

It is not that tricky to translate the website, but it is quite hard to make SEO work for your localized pages and get a stream of users to these pages.

I don’t use separate domain names for translated pages. And for some languages it works well (like for Spanish).

But doesn’t work for some other languages. I guess search engines analyze and count external organic inbound links to the localized page and ignore internal links / SEO links to localized pages. Or maybe they count only links that bring real users and measure the bounce rate of these users.

Some of my localized pages are 2-3 years old and still don’t get organic search visitors. For example Japanese.

It would be nice to know exactly how to “activate” localized pages to make Google love these pages.

Right now I am experimenting with Chinese language because their economy seems more protected in this coronavirus year. But that is hard. They have their own analogs for twitter, youtube and Facebook. And it seems it is very hard to even register an account in their wechat and other services if you are outside of China

I’m Polish, and I never trust sites translated to Polish - I just switch to the English version. The translations are usually done poorly, by a contract employee who doesn’t understand the context.

If you’re going to translate your site make sure to do it well. And make sure it’s worth the extra hassle - changes to your text will now be way more costly.

Just to give you an update. We went ahead and translated the site into:
Polish https://wordtohtml.net/pl/- my developer is Polish so he did it.
German https://wordtohtml.net/de/ - I got a good translator from https://www.peopleperhour.com/freelancer/translation-tutorials/gabriele-native-german-translator-zvyaqzx It costs about $500 to get all the text translated.

It was quite a bit of work to do, much more than we first imaged. You forget about all the text in alert boxes, emails, error messages etc, they added up to about 800 phrases that needed to be translated.

We only went live last week so too early to tell if it has been worthwhile. I will update you all in a few months.

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