The online Arabic market is huge and expanding every day, but many businesses haven’t adjusted their web content to fit the needs of this growing market. Businesses which attempt to reach this market in English will find they are not as competitive as their rivals who invest in Arabic translation. A smart marketing strategy for approaching this demographic includes comprehensive Arabic translation and culturally customized brands, services and content.
A global language
Arabic is a language spoken by more than 300 million people; it’s the third most common language on earth. Only the French and English languages have more speakers than Arabic. It’s the seventh most spoken language on the Internet and opportunities for online Arabic translation are growing faster than those of any other language.
People online who speak Arabic now outnumber those speaking Russian, German and French. Arabic speakers now also account for a large share of online economic growth. The Arabic language canvases 22 countries and speakers have a combined annual net worth of more than $1 trillion.
There are currently 3.7 million Twitter users who communicate using Arabic and those users generate more than 300 million tweets a month. With more than five million Arabic LinkedIn users, it’s clear that the Arabic language is one of the fastest growing languages on social media platforms.
Keeping pace with a growing market
With so much growth in Arabic language usage online, it’s unclear why many websites have not kept pace. There are incredible financial opportunities represented by the Arabic speaking market. Despite this only a few of the top 100 internet brands offer Arabic content and only a quarter of Fortune 500 companies provide websites in Arabic.
More than profit-making opportunities
While the business potential of reaching Arabic speaking markets cannot be understated, it isn’t only marketers that should take note. The value of Arabic web content has far more than just commercial value.
Taghreedat is an organization dedicated to improving online content for Arabic speakers. With a volunteer base of more than 9,000 people, Taghreedat provides Arabic translation services around the world. Another organization with a similar mission is Smartling which hopes to make the web a truly multilingual gathering place. In order to achieve their goals both organizations focus on increasing web access to Arabic speakers. Technology can only help people if they are able to access it in the first place and even with access, content is useless if the language is incomprehensible.
While commercial enterprises may want their web content translated into Arabic, language translation is only part of the process. A truly customized webpage will have globalized content throughout the site. This globalized content encompasses not only language translation, but also cultural details. Arabic translators must be aware of these challenges to ensure their content delivers its intended message.
Regardless of the complexity of the Arabic translation assignment there are practices that should be followed to ensure a comprehensive and accurate interpretation.
The following guidelines should be observed:
1. Before you even begin website development you must choose a content management system that supports Arabic language. There are numerous multilingual content management systems that support Arabic such as WordPress, Ektron and Sitecore. As the system you choose will be the foundation of your entire web presence, choose carefully and be sure it supports all of the data and content you need to deliver in Arabic.
2. Define the target market. Arabic is a rich language with many dialects and styles. It is critical that translators determine the specific region and audience for which they are creating content. This process will aid in delivering the intended message to the specified audience.
3. Create an Arabic glossary. This step is a must when developing terminology for an Arabic website. Deciding the best translation for brands and phrases is vital to maintaining the quality of localized content and retaining a positive marketing image. Part of this glossary should include words for common online terms such as: forms, navigation, buttons and links. These words have several Arabic translations which makes it a challenge to determine their web-related term in English. Be certain a native Arabic speaker or qualified Arabic translation specialist reviews these translations.
4. Understand the Arabic culture. Web content that may be acceptable in other cultures may find disapproval from an Arabic speaking market. It’s important that content creators understand the culture for which they are creating text and images.
5. Do not use machine translations. Arabic is a complex and expressive language. There is no machine capable of translating this language to its full extent. At best a machine translation will be unclear although it’s more likely to be incorrect.
6. Customize the layout. The Arabic language reads from right to left. This requires a different user interface which will affect the direction of the page layout, menu navigation and margin alignments. This customization requires modifications including:
- Graphic adjustments for right-to-left interface.
- Because Arabic translations may be longer than the original text, make sure to leave room in your templates and menus for expansion.
- For sites that offer e-commerce, it’s a must that the interface can accomodate accurate Arabic number displays.
7. Perform search engine optimization. An Arabic translator that understands SEO will be able to register local domain names and choose the right key words to reach the intended target audience. As with any multilingual website, optimizing for search engines should increase traffic to the site.
8. Finally, your last step should be testing the site before it goes live. A quality assurance test is essential in determining if a website is fully functional and accurate in its Arabic language communications. This final quality assurance test should include:
- A review and analysis of site content.
- Usability testing to ensure the site supports the right-to-left layout design.
- Accuracy review of Arabic numerals, times and dates.
- Standard troubleshooting.
Launching a website with Arabic content may seem like a daunting task. Although it’s not an endeavor to be taken lightly, with the right Arabic translation support it can be successful. The Arabic speaking online community is large and keeps growing. As this community expands, the demand for Arabic website translations will continue to rise.
The power of language translation
Increased communications across the globe support a better understanding between diverse populations and cultures. The need for accurate translations is essential for those wishing to be part of this growing global market. Whether the interest is in marketing or humanitarian support, accurate language translation service will be the key to creating a truly global community.