Choosing a translation solution; How to scale internationally while protecting your brand, sales and rankings

Scaling your business internationally is hard at the best of times. Translation, and more importantly localisation, is at the core of this complexity, and yet making the right choices cannot only ensure everything goes smoothly but provide enormous additional opportunities for brands.

A recent exchange with an entrepreneur really brought to light a lack of satisfactory literature on the options businesses have to tackle this in the best way for them, and so here we are.

First things first

When talking about translation you expect to add brand value in key markets, we are not talking about dumping your content in to Google Translate or similar and hoping for the best.

Good translation is really localisation which amounts to making sure the nuance of the language, colloquialisms and turns of phrase, not to mention technical language, are catered for by a native speaker and not a tool.

Like everything if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well and taking shortcuts will result in confused customers at best and a damaged, underperforming brand at worst. Given that scaling internationally is always going to involve significant investment both on and offline, the stakes are too high to skimp on quality.

So, what are we trying to achieve?

From our “organic” corner of the universe a translation project needs to serve three purposes to your brand:

To achieve this seamlessly the obvious place to look is in-house but the reality is that the likelihood of having a member of staff who specialises in both the job they do as well as professional translation is low.

Who should translate your website?

If we avoid using a translation tool, and indeed don’t have the resource in-house then we have three hiring options to choose from – the pros and cons of which I will cover in this article:

When looking to hire any of these, you’ll need to ensure they have a substantial portfolio of work that embodies the content niche you’re translating within.

While all of them have their pros and cons, the biggest deciding factor here is the amount of content required and how often new/updated translations are needed.  Other important things to consider:

Choosing the correct supplier to translate your website

With these three options in mind, let’s consider the pros and cons of each in terms of the best decision for your organisation and circumstance.

Freelance translator



Suitable for:

Those with a smaller, one-off translation project or little budget. If you have knowledge of how to manage multilingual content and can give necessary management time to the project, this option is for you.

In-house translator(s)



Suitable for:

I would suggest this approach for websites that have large-scale, long-term, continuous translations needed.

Translation company (LSP)

Contrary to popular belief, translation agencies don’t usually have in-house linguists and the ones they do have only know the most popular language combinations.



Top tip:

You will have to pay extra for proofreading. However, they may offer either an “in-house” or “same linguist” proofreader – avoid this. Request a third-party proofreader for your project as it will result in the best quality available.

Bonus tip:

If you’re worried about the quality you’ll be receiving, ask for the linguists’ CVs or a small bit of sample text before you begin work.

Suitable for:

All kinds of translation projects would benefit from the experience that translation project managers at an LSP bring.

Finding an LSP

After weighing up the options, you might have reached the conclusion that a translation company is your best bet. If it is, the next step is to choose one to work with. Here are some things to consider when sourcing an LSP:

Whatever option you land on, it’s best to prioritise the choice that keeps your time, stress levels and expenses balanced.

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