International marketing

Strategy for Expansion Into International Markets: Website Translation From Spanish to English

Strategy for Expansion Into International Markets: Website Translation From Spanish to English
Walter Masseroni
Written by
Walter Masseroni
Walter Masseroni
Written by
Walter Masseroni
Rayne Aguilar
Rayne Aguilar
Walter Masseroni
Reviewed by
Rayne Aguilar
Updated on
June 11, 2024

Perfect translations probably do not exist. The popular adage: "traduttore, traditore" (translator, traitor) reflects the complexity of translating what is expressed in one language into another. Umberto Eco, the prestigious Italian semiologist, philosopher, and writer, remarked that when translating, "one does not always say the same thing, but ‘almost’ the same thing.” Well, the aim of translating web pages from Spanish into English is to ensure that this "almost the same thing" is as faithful as possible to the original without losing information along the way.

But why translate content into English in the first place? Well, W3Techs, a company specializing in the tracking and analysis of web technologies, found that half of the web pages on the Internet are written in English.

English clearly dominates over other languages online. According to the data provided by W3Techs: English leads with 53.6 %, followed by Spanish with 5.3 %. That's a 10% difference compared to English!

This isn’t to say that not all the businesses included in that 53.6% operate in English-speaking countries. However, any Spanish company interested in marketing its products or services internationally knows that translating its website from Spanish to English is the first step towards success.

Breaking Down Barriers

Communication is the key word; it establishes the necessary close relationship with customers so that they trust you, your services, or your company. Language barrier refers to the hurdle we must overcome when communicating with those we do not share a language with. Sometimes, this happens even with those who speak the same language we do, thanks to certain accents or because of cultural or dialectal differences. 

When a Spanish company wants to expand globally, the first step is to translate its website. It’s the only way to reach not only the English-speaking markets but also the millions of users who, even if they are not native English speakers, use English to search for products and services on the Internet.

But how do you translate a website from Spanish into English? Obviously, what you learned in secondary school is not enough, even if it comes in handy when traveling around the world or having a chat with a foreigner. An accurate and reliable translation requires a thorough knowledge of both languages: the source language, which for us is Spanish, and the target language, which is English. The aim is for the web content to flow so naturally that visitors never think about whether it was originally written in English or if it was translated. Or, even worse, a bad translation, as you can see in these examples:

Mistranslation found on a Spanish menu
Those are some impressive potatoes!


Another example of mistranslation on a Spanish menu
Another example of bad translation on a Spanish menu.
Mistranslations on Spanish menu

They make us laugh, but unless we are comedians, that is not the effect we want to have on our audience.

Spanish and English, Meeting Points

Firstly, despite their very different origins, Spanish, a Romance language derived from Latin, and English, a language with Germanic roots, share some similarities. The most obvious is the use of the Latin alphabet and the likeness in the sound of its letters.

Secondly, around 35% of English words are related to other words in Spanish, either by sound, appearance, or meaning. Most are derived from Latin, such as: decide (to) - decidir, much - mucho, locate (to) - localizar. Some come from other languages, such as: argot - argot and elite - élite, from French; the cheerful confetti - confeti and the sonorous piano - piano, from Italian; or lemon - limón and divan - divan, adopted from Arabic.

A third point in common between the two languages is that most of the sentences share basic structures. However, there are some exceptions, such as the placement of adjectives before nouns in English.

On the other hand, if we wanted to point out the many differences or the difficulty involved in translating between the two languages, we would be deviating from the purpose of this article. So we will focus on those that, when translating a website from Spanish into English, must always be taken into account.

A Multilingual Website

When approaching the translation of a website from Spanish into English, it is essential to consider how to address the new audience. Formal pronouns don’t exist in English, unlike the use of "tú" and "usted" that we have in Spanish; instead, the expression of formality must be reflected through the tone and style of the translated texts of the web content.

Similarly, be aware of the differences between British and American English. British English tends to be more formal and reserved, while American English is more straightforward and casual and uses fewer polite expressions. Therefore, when translating a website for an international audience, whether they are native English speakers or not, it is essential to be aware of these variations and adapt the communication style while maintaining a neutral approach.

This is very easy to check; just compare a text in Spanish with its English translation, and you will see that the former is between 20% and 30% longer. Known as text expansion, this is an important detail to consider when translating a website because the lengths for headings, titles, descriptions, and CTAs (calls to action) will differ, and they must fit the web design regardless of language to maintain a positive user experience. On the other hand, long and complex sentences can hinder the readability of web content and, as we will explain later, have a negative impact on SEO positioning. Therefore, sentences should always be as short, simple, and direct as possible.

As for punctuation, apart from the opening signs in question marks and exclamations, which do not exist in English, some other rules also vary. For example, in Spanish, punctuation marks are always placed inside parentheses or inverted commas, while in English, the opposite is true. Additionally, English uses commas (,) to separate decimals, as opposed to the full stop or period (.) used in Spanish. 

There are also many differences in the use of capital letters. In English, days of the week, months, names of languages, nationalities, and religions, and others are capitalized, but not in Spanish. The same applies to titles and headings, where all standalone words are capitalized and, in Spanish, only the first one is.

Nor can we overlook how complex and irregular English spelling is. This is an aspect with which we must be very meticulous and make sure that the translation of our website is flawless and free of spelling mistakes. You may not be aware of it, but search engines, such as Google, penalize web content with such mistakes. Not to mention the negative impact it would have on your company's image in the eyes of your future customers.

Online Website Translation

So far, we have explored some of the differences and challenges we face when translating a website from Spanish into English. We’ve seen from the examples mentioned that the process requires a level of complexity and attention to detail to get it right. And while we accept that the best translation will only be "almost perfect", what we can never afford is a bad translation that damages the image and credibility of our company or product.

From this need, Weglot was born, a solution created specifically for the translation of online websites. It is an accurate and reliable tool capable of detecting the content of your company's website, including widgets, multimedia elements, etc. And, in a matter of minutes, it provides you with the English version of the entire website. With Weglot, translating your website from Spanish to English online is now easy, fast and affordable.

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Localize So They Can Find Us

By translating content, we have eliminated language barriers; however, when it comes to a website, we must go a step further and adapt its content to the particularities and preferences of the target audience. This is what is known as localization.

Localization is about making translated web content flow naturally as if it had been created by a team of native English developers. The goal is not to make it sound like a translation, but to make it look like it was created to tailor to the target market. To achieve this, a thorough knowledge of both cultures is required. It is essential to be familiar with the social norms, values, and beliefs of the new audience to avoid any language or references that may be confusing or offensive.

Examples such as the ones below illustrate the importance of effective localization.

Ad for the Mitsubishi Pajeroin a Japanese publication
An example of bad localization, featuring the Mazda Laputa

It is thus necessary to adapt all aspects of web content, such as time and date formats, currencies, units of measurement, etc. We will also bear in mind the legal aspects of complying with the regulations of the new markets. This must be done without overlooking the multimedia elements that also have to be adapted according to the expectations and preferences of the English-speaking audience.

In fact, even the marketing and sales tone is adapted when localizing a website. For example, in English, it is very effective to address the audience with more forceful language or to use direct, exclamatory phrases to emphasize messages. Similarly, motivating users to buy, register, or subscribe to a mailing list is considered appropriate. Whereas, in Spanish, the same tone could be perceived as imposing or demanding.

Too many details to consider?

Weglot is the most accurate and reliable translation solution! Put your translation and localization project on autopilot with Weglot. 

We take care of everything! 

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Ready for international success? Weglot translates, localizes and optimizes for SEO the content of your company's website from Spanish into English.

SEO is the set of techniques and strategies used on a website to improve its visibility and positioning on Internet search engines. SEO is an acronym for "Search Engine Optimization", and Google is the most widely used search engine. The goal of SEO is to attract visitors and generate quality traffic to your company's website.

In a globalized world, the translation of your website is key to your international expansion strategy. Weglot is the most efficient and fastest way to set up a multilingual website in just a few minutes.

Still not convinced?

Take a look at the report "Can't Read, Won't Buy" by market research company CSA Research. The analysis showed that 65% of users prefer web content to be in their own language, and 40% of users say they would never buy products in a foreign language.

Join Weglot and take the first step toward success. Don't be left out of globalization - go international!

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