7 Tips for Translating Digital Content into German

Having content available in your audience’s native language is the fastest way to build trust, increase your relationship, and grow sales. When communicating with a German audience, it’s important to provide a wealth of information and resources for them to use during the awareness and research phases of the buyer’s journey. But there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. If you have digital content in English that is relevant to your German audiences, it’s faster and easier to create German translations than to write entirely new articles. Creating accurate English to German translations for digital content can be rife with pitfalls. In this blog, we cover seven tips to make your German translations project run smoothly.

1. Have a Clear Objective

First and foremost, it’s important to be clear on the objective of your translation projects. Are you reaching out to a new audience or building the relationship with an existing one? Are you providing information and using a call to action? How is the translated German content going to be used? Who is going to use it? What type of content is it? It is a user guide, a HR manual, a company website, or a survey for employees. These questions provide clarity around the project and its goals which impact the translation project.  The objectives of the German translation should be discussed with translation company so they can share with the team of translators and use as a refence for the translation process.

2. Know Your Audience

Once you know the purpose of your translation campaign, get clear on the audience. Whether you’re using a professional translation agency or not, you (and they) need to know who you’re speaking to, their age, location, gender, and desired outcome. Without being clear on who your audience is, your translation could fall flat. Do you need formal or informal tone in your translations? The location where is going to be used helps determine the German translator selected and the content indicates the expertise needed.

3. Create a Terminology Management Document

Create a terminology management document or share any existing one to save time throughout the project. A terminology management document is a comprehensive resource that defines your company and industry-specific terms, preferred translation terms, and any words that don’t get translated. German is a language that continually borrows and adapts from English, particularly when it comes to the internet. Your professional German translator can make the call of which terms must be translated appropriately and which words can be anglicized but deciding terminology in advance the keeps things moving smoothly and saves time in revisions. Having a bilingual terminology as a base for your translation phase is especially important for technical translation into German. Factor the time for the creation and revision of your glossary by a German native speaker that knows your company and products. Identify early during the planning phase if your organization will have an in-country review person that will help with the glossary and any question that can pop during the project.

4. Manage Cultural Nuances

Understand that while the style of the content will stay the same, the exact wording will not. Translations are more than just substituting words in one language for another- they must also consider the cultural context of the audience receiving the information. A good German translation retains the message and information of the original document while presenting it in a style and format that is familiar to Germans. The tone of your content may also change slightly depending on the formality. German, like many languages, has formal and informal translation options and which is best depends on your audience, campaign, and objective. You will also need to be mindful of special elements in German translation, including special characters. German uses the English alphabet, with a few additions- ä, ö, ü, and ß.  Make sure these characters display well on your website and electronic files. Some fonts might be better than other to display the special German characters. This point also bring the topic of German localization of the content. Be prepare to change date format and elements in your ecommerce like measurements, currency and format for address, and services like delivery options to match the new country. What is proper in a culture might not be well received in another. For example, one time we were translating a fashion website, and in the product name of a vest, we had to change its name since the name used will be controversial for the German audience. Due to the sensitivity to the wars the German translator recommended a changed.

5. Plan and Make Room for Text Expansion

Another thing to be mindful of when translating English content into German is the amount of text expansion. The German language is known for its compound words that substitute a sequence of smaller words. These compound words get long- over 30 characters in some cases. Take, for example, Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften, a 39-letter word to describe the legal protection provided by insurance companies. Similarly, Nahrungsmittelunverträglichkeit is a 31-letter word to describe food intolerance. But even shorter words in German tend to be longer than in English. The average German word has 11.66 characters, compared to 8.23 characters in English. When creating English to German translations, this can mean up to a 35% increase in the text, which can significantly impact the design of the web page and the display of a document translation. Consider the additional space the text will take up and what elements of the design will need to be adjusted as a result during the multilingual type setting. With website translation projects is also important to review the German content once the website is published.

6. Study and Select Keyword in German

When you are translating a website into German, it is very important to incorporate the appropriate German keywords. Doing the German keywords research within your niche and locale and using them on your website will help tell the search engine about the content of your German website pages. The translated term into German that the linguist uses need to be the term most search, if not your German content is not as effective for your company. Multilingual Keyword research is one of the elements of creating copy with International SEO in mind.

7.  Localize the Website Code Accordingly

We regularly discuss the importance of localization on this blog, and digital content is no exception. But there’s specific coding involved to tell search engines what languages your website is available in. It’s called a hreflang meta tag, and your web developer can include the language attribute in a few places, including:
  • The <html> tag
  • The <head> section of each page.
By adding this information in the original and localized versions of your website pages, your website points to itself and easily tells search engines the language availability. Additionally, your web developer can include the country you want to be targeted in the hreflang attribute. For German, which is spoken in six countries, this can help your localized search results reach a targeted and specific audience.

Work with Experts in German Translation

Whether you’re creating content that needs German to English translations or repurposing content in English for a German audience, it’s important to partner with an expert provider of German translation services. Working with industry experts ensures your translation project with be grammatically accurate with localized language that resonates with your target audience. At JR Language, our team includes professional German translators with a variety of subject matter expertise with certified German translation services available.

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