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Asia and Pacific Region Forum

Translating exisiting pages to Chinese, Thai etc
what is the best way?
Visit Thailand

 1:58 am on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I need to translate a website into many different languages such as Chinese, Thai, etc.

I have local people to do the translations but my question is what is the best way to do this -

Do I just need to change the <meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en-us"> tag to whatever language the page is supposed to be in and then send the translators the existing page and they simply remove all the visible English text with Chinese.

Can the html still be in English? including the keywords etc or do they have to also be changed.

For Chinese I want to reach the Hong Kong and mainland Chinese market is it best to have two translations one for each market using different Chinese language sets?

Which language sets would be best? Is <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=big5"> suitable to both mainland and HK markets?

Thank you.



 2:42 am on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

...they simply remove all the visible English text with Chinese
Be careful that the translators know not to mess up the HTML...or that they know what to replace. If they're not comfortable you could break out your page elements into a flat text file and then recombine things later.

Can the html still be in English? including the keywords etc or do they have to also be changed.
You would want to translate all the ALT text, any TITLE elements, all of the KEYWORD and DESCRIPTION metas. The HTML itself will work globally.

Which language sets would be best?
I use gb2312 for my mainland China site and do get HK visitors. However, I'm not sure if that is optimum for the HK market. Others here could probably give better advice on that.

Visit Thailand

 3:22 am on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks Bill for your help.

Will start testing and see how it goes.

If the layout of the pages are all identical only the language being different there should be no chance of duplicate penalties right?


 3:50 am on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

If the language is different you have no fear of duplicate penalties. They won't go after you for page layout similarities.


 3:53 am on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Are you going with completely separate sites, or looking to do some kind of session thing based on a clickable preference?

Visit Thailand

 3:58 am on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I thought of different sites, but have decided initially to go with mydomain.com/cn/thechinesepages etc mydomain.com/th/thethaipages etc.

Will build a new domain where it will be easier for viewers to see the different language options later but will start with above first.


 3:17 pm on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

my experience...and that's taking a site up to 15 languages...is that you can't rely simply on the layout telling you what goes where

colour code the copy that goes to the translator and warn them that it's how you will be working out how to mark up the page so it's essential they keep the colour coding...this is especially important for taking copy in Latin languages into languages that use CJK ideograms...the layout will look very different

make sure you've included things like keywords and descriptions meta tags, and any link text you'll need for switching between languages (having to pay a translator to just send you the ideograms for "Simplified Chinese" in Simplified Chinese is not efficient)...let the translator know what keywords and phrases you want a consistent translation of...and ensure that the translator knows how you want the text encoded

Visit Thailand

 12:49 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks Eric_Jarvis - have you found that doing so many languages has helped your site?

I am trying to keep the same layout and style on every page whether it is in Chinese or Thai or English etc.

From your experience do se's know that a page is in X language and then consider returning that into the SERPS when they are searched in that particular language?


 4:34 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

I found it helps to have the different languages on local domains of their own. GoogleGuy once confirmed that if you have either local hosting (i.e., host your Chinese site in China) or a local domain (i.e., example.cn for your Chinese site) that would be sufficient for them to determine that your site was intended for that market.

Then of course you have to have content in the local language as well...I use this on my Chinese site:

<html lang="zh">
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html;charset=gb2312">
<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="zh">

That should provide enough for the SE to determine your language and target market.


 2:24 pm on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

we managed to get plenty of direct traffic by simply having different languages in separate directories and using meta tags to show the intended language...the difficulty with a large selection of languages is making sure that people can easily switch between them if they are referred to a page in the wrong language


 12:03 am on May 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Eric, would you switch directly to the corresponding page in the alternate language, or would you direct the user to the home page of the respective language choice?


 2:40 am on May 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you want to maximize your traffic and convert more prospects, my suggestion is you use different language sets for Mainland China and HK market respectively. Some Mainland Chinese may feel hard to read traditional Chinese and vice versa.

Visit Thailand

 2:48 am on May 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

thanks newsphinx.

Can most HK Chinese write both traditional and simplified?

Bill I was also wondering that and what I was planning to do is have each page link to each other respective page, but would be interesting to hear what others do and have seen work.


 10:05 am on May 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Most HK people will have difficulty in writing Simplified Chinese, I think.


 8:22 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

initially I simply had each page with a menu of the other languages linking to the same page in the other languages...that got cumbersone

I think the ideal for a large number of languages is to use a mix of content negotiation and a "language switching" page...set content negotiation to take those who come to any index.html to the index.html that matches their browser language setting...on each page offer a link (in that language) to "other languages"...and build a unicode page that links to every index page using the two letter language code, the name of the language in that language, the name of the language in Rnglish, and a short descriptive sentence in that language as spider food...on ALL pages make the link to the home page a link to default.html and don't use content negotiation ANYWHERE other than on index.html

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