Appeal to an International Audience

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There is a key area in digital commerce where affiliates can fill an important role that is often neglected by merchants. That role: reaching people in other languages besides English. Just in the United States alone we can see the numbers for the top ten languages used in the States:

English – 215 million
Spanish – 28 million
Chinese languages – 2.0 million + (mostly Cantonese speakers, with a growing group of Mandarin speakers)
French – 1.6 million
German – 1.4 million (High German) + German dialects like Hutterite German, Texas German, Pennsylvania German, Plautdietsch
Tagalog – 1.2 million + (Most Filipinos may also know other Philippine languages, e.g. Ilokano, Pangasinan, Bikol languages, and Visayan languages)
Vietnamese – 1.0 million
Italian – 1.0 million
Korean – 890,000
Russian – 710,000
*source: 2000 census

This come from the 2000 census, so I’m actually betting the numbers are even higher in 2012.

You’ll get 2 great benefits from having multi-language pages:

  1. You’ll appeal to any native speakers that arrive on your page using English searches or links. They started off searching in English, but might feel much more comfortable (and connected) by using their native language.
  2. You’ll rank on search engines FOR keywords on your pages in those languages, attracting anyone who happens to be searching in their native tongue.

If the product you’re promoting happens to have international appeal, perhaps a travel affiliate program for Asia, or digital software, or even a product like electronic cigarettes that aren’t widely available in their home country, you’ll start showing up for international buying traffic. Few affiliates even consider this kind of traffic, but the few that do I know are getting sales…and commissions.

Now, how should you go about getting your page translated? I would absolutely not rely on Google Translate or some other machine based translator. These machine translators just miss too much in the nuance of languages and how certain native speakers use particular words.

For example, let’s take the words “nightclub” or “club” that are the most used keywords to represent a nightclub in English. In Argentina, you could also use the word, “club” and it would work. However, “boliche” would work 100 times better as the word is far more common, but the word “boliche” would get you nowhere in all the other Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. The word is simply not used and perhaps not even understood by the majority.

Only a native speaker would recognize the above situation, so I would recommend finding a human native speaker translator to do your translations. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are people on Fivver.com that will do 300–400 words translations for $5. Translating a few pages for a test could cost your as little as $20-$30, and a few sales could quickly make up for that business expense, and be a great proof of concept to expand your multi-language efforts. Once you’ve run a few jobs through Fivver, and have found a proven translator, go ahead and try working out a private deal for expanded work. If you can’t find anyone on Fivver, well there’s always Elance and Odesk.

If you have an established page that’s doing well in English, perhaps get it translated into Spanish, and give that a try. If you run paid search ads, you can start small by running some ads in areas with high Spanish speaking populations (Los Angeles, Texas, Miami). Or, branch out and try Korean or Vietnamese. California and even suburban Washington D.C. have specific concentrations of different ethnic/language groups. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!