Blogging

Published on September 6th, 2013 | by ChristianArno

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Blogging For A Worldwide Audience

You might think that the blogosphere is an area that transcends international boundaries and in many respects it is. Anyone with access to the internet can access your blog and many bloggers find they attract a smattering of readers from far-flung places simply by doing what they’ve always done.

If you want to raise those numbers however, or target specific international markets, there’s a little more to think about.

Research And Target Your Market

When news aggregator and super-blog The Huffington Post launched its French edition, founder Arianna Huffington said: “While we will be importing the platform, technology, and tools from across the pond, Le Huffington Post will be rooted in French culture and will reflect France’s own unique personality, rich culture, and diversity of voices.”

We can’t all have the resources of The Huff (currently ranked Number 99 in Alexa’s listings of the world’s most visited websites) but it does help illustrate the fact that the content should reflect the target market and vice versa.

The theme of your blog will to a large extent help determine the markets where it is likely to have a wide potential appeal. A soccer blog, for example, could appeal to large parts of the world, including Europe and South America, but would probably be more niche in the States. That isn’t to say that some blogs can’t reach unexpected audiences. Political activist and some-time comedian Beppe Grillo blogs largely about politics in his native Italy but his uncompromising tone and occasional revelation has won him an army of fans worldwide and his blog is translated from Italian into English and, curiously, Japanese.

Use Simple Language

Unless your blog is a niche platform for the terminally verbose to get flowery, it’s generally a good idea to use simple language anyway. Online reading habits are different than print and most readers prefer their blogs delivered in clear and easily digestible chunks.

If you do have international readers for whom English is a second language, using simple, understandable language is even more important. You should avoid too many colloquialisms and local references that won’t cross over to a wider audience. If you do decide it’s worth translating your content, it’s also far easier to do so if you used relatively simple language to begin with.

Translate Your Content

As already mentioned, many readers will read blogs and visit websites that are not in their own native language. English serves as an online lingua franca, or linking language, and it is still the single most widely used language online. Even so, English represents only around a quarter of total usage and other languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese (the last two representing in part the increasing internet penetration in Latin America) have seen much higher growth rates over the past few years. Clearly, a monolingual blog is bypassing huge swathes of potential readers.

If you do decide to translate, it’s worth doing it properly. Automatic translation programs are great for straight dictionary translations but they don’t deal well with colloquialisms, abbreviations or context. A too-literal translation can sound stilted and unprofessional at best and produce what is effectively gibberish at worst. Native speaking translators can help you achieve a natural, flowing translation and avoid any potential cultural faux pas.

Pay Special Attention To Keywords

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an area that’s often overlooked by bloggers but appearing as high up the search engine results pages as possible can really help drive new traffic your way. If you translate your blog, you should take extra care over the translation and selection of keywords.

What works in one language doesn’t necessarily cross over to another. A literal translation of the term ‘car insurance’ for example, would be ‘l’assurance automobile’. If you run this through Google’s keyword too it performs very poorly, the alternative term ‘assurance auto’ being far more effective. You certainly don’t have to ditch any carefully researched English keywords you already have but use them as a jumping off point. Brainstorm alternatives with the help of a native speaker and run them through keyword tools to check that they work. The efforts can pay dividends, especially as there is often less competition for keywords in languages other than English.

There’s a lot to think about when you’re considering blogging for an international audience. There’s a vast potential audience out there, but you have to make the effort to reach them.


About the Author

is the founder of Lingo24, Inc., a provider of translation and localization services in most world languages. Follow Christian Arno on Twitter: @L24ca



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