Swiss French translation : Usual pitfalls for SEO and translation professionals

Even the best global SEO initiative can be useless if close attention is not paid to the target market. Avoiding cultural faux-pas can be done with a little effort, though. Swiss French translation is a good illustration of such cases that are often ignored by SEO professionals.

The native language of around two million people and the second language in Switzerland after German, at first sight Swiss French presents only minor changes compared to “Parisian French”. A French speaker would encounter only a few unfamiliar words while listening to a Swiss French speaker and vice versa. Thus, there may be a temptation to use standard French when addressing the Swiss market. Besides, a majority of French and Swiss people themselves think that language differ only on a dozen of typical examples such as meals (a French déjeuner is a Swiss diner) and numbers (soixante-dix (seventy) becomes septante).

However, cultural difference should not be underestimated. Any international firm based in Geneva or the Leman area  should ensure its French marketing copy and website are proofread by a Swiss French native translator. Beyond typical Swiss expressions  it should not be forgetten that Swiss culture is strongly influenced by its German residents. Swiss French localization is a small investment to avoid big disappointments: Try to order a French “cornet” (ice-cream cone) in Geneva, and you’ll get a plastic bag*!

Also, SEO techniques vary a lot with the country. For example, French “Azerty” keyboard makes it difficult to fast-type letters such as é, è and à. On the contrary, the Swiss “Qwertz” keyboard has a very comfortable layout regarding accented letters. This is why Swiss search engines users will more likely search for phrases with correctly accented letters than their French counterparts. Swiss French translations and SEO carried out with the right approach is a real opportunity to find local clients through search engines.

Please contact us if you wish to find out more about our Swiss French translation services.

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