The Ultimate Guide to Website Localization in 8 Steps
Your website is the digital front door of your online business, and you should build it in a way that your global audiences feel welcomed. To capture the attention of international audiences, the localization of your website is probably the most important factor that allows your foreign audiences to resonate with your online business. It also increases their chances of buying your product or services.
Globalization has opened up tons of opportunities for businesses around the world. But you can only make the most of it through localization. From increasing customers base to maximizing profit ratios, website localization enhances your chances of success in international markets.
First let’s be clear on what localization really is.
What is Website Localization?
What most people think of website localization is that they only have to install a plugin, and their website is all set to go global. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy, there is a lot more that goes into website localization. You might find website localization a bit complex, but it is so lucrative when it comes to connecting your customers with the brand.
In simple words, website localization is the process of making your website look native by translating the content to foreign audience languages, making it more relevant and culturally appropriate for your potential customers. Your audiences are not the same, they speak different languages, and have diversified cultural values. Localization allows you to make the content of the website more relevant to the audience, so they better engage with your brand and become your permanent customers.
Moreover, there is a common misconception that localization is limited to the translation of content to a different language. Yes, translation does play a huge role in localization, but there is more to it. When it comes to web localization, one has to consider a lot of factors from web design, and colors, to images and SEO. So, make sure you put your localization project to trusted hands who know the technicalities of your multilingual website.
8 Steps to Start Your Website Localization
If you are going to build your own multilingual website, then this article is for you. Make sure you are following all the steps mentioned here to kick-start your website localization.
1. Know Your Target Markets
Your web localization strategy will be depending on the number of countries you want to cater to. The more countries you’re getting into, the more efforts would go into localization. Before planning your web localization, you have to do detailed market research to know your audiences. The first step will be to identify your target markets, where your brand has more chances to grow. So, you should be keeping in mind not just the present state of the target markets, but also looking for the opportunities likely to open up to those markets in the future.
No matter how amazing your brand is, still not every market is meant for you. Even companies like Starbucks have to shut down their franchises in some countries. Because if there is not enough market demand for your product or services, you couldn’t make it there. So, having comprehensive market research is crucial to enter any new marketplace. You must know who your buyers are, what their interests are, what social platforms they use, where they hang out, etc. Your customers’ personas should be very clear in your mind, so you can better accommodate their needs.
2. Make Your Website Localization Strategy
Once your market research is done, you are all set to plan your localization strategy. People use the internet around the world, but not every internet user is your potential customer. It doesn’t mean that you should not be exploring international markets and hold on to your hometown business forever. The internet has dissolved the borders; now you can make friends with people across oceans, and buy anything from far-off lands.
There is a place for your brand to grow in international markets, but for this, you should have a robust localization strategy in place. First thing first, you need to be sure that you are flawlessly communicating with your customers. For example, with French audiences, you have to communicate in French, to make them feel like insiders.
Not just that, you have to be familiar with their everyday vocab, slang words, and their written communication preferences, only then you will be able to translate your content in a way that your target audiences would relate to it. You can hire a localization consultant, or get your web localization done by a reliable website localization company to implement a vigorous strategy.
3. Hire an Experienced Localization Team
To make your brand an international success, you must be choosing the right partners for the web localization. You must hire a team that understands your localization needs and the underlying problems that can affect your brand’s global expansion.
To find your best team, you can look up on the internet, or get some suggestions from your peers. There will be lots of people involved in the localization, from localization consultants, and translators to financial officials. You have to choose them carefully to get your localization done without compromising on quality.
You better not cut the corners because minor errors in your translation are enough to defame your brand and affect its credibility. There are many localization service providers out there offering incredible transcreation solutions to make your content look native. Hiring practiced, and successful freelance translators would allow you to convey your brand’s message to global audiences in their native language, where words might get changed but emotions don’t.
4. Native Keyword Research
Simply translating your local keywords to foreign languages would not get you anywhere. For every new market, you have to conduct separate native keyword research. To maintain SEO for your multilingual website, you have to use native search phrases used by native speakers.
One more thing, you must be mindful that not everyone is using the Google search engine. There are other search engine options as well, like Yandex, Bing, and Baidu, used by many people around the world. So, make sure you are doing SEO focusing on different search engines, Google would still be on top of your priority list.
For example, you should be using the word “chemist’s shop” instead of “drugstore”, if you want to expand your pharmacy business to the UK market.
5. No Manual Localization Management
It would be better to use a translation management system (TMS) to get your translation tasks managed. Manual management can lead to a lot of fuss and it is also more error-prone. You can choose any trusted TMS system that best serves your needs. What TMS would actually do for you is as follow:
- Direct web translations
- Integrate the interface of application programming
- Ensures seamless communication between teams across borders
- Keep your translation memory
Using a TMS system would save a lot of time and effort, and you can ultimately be doing more valuable business tasks productively.
6. Get Your Translation Done
Should not be the translation that Google Translator produces. When it comes to website content, word-to-word translations don’t work. Conventional translations don’t just confuse the context of your content, but also fail to convey the actual message to your target audiences.
So, what should one do in such a scenario?
Go for transcreation services. It is a sort of translation, but not the literal one. Transcreation focuses on making your content appropriate in terms of culture, linguistics, context, tone, and intent. Yes, transcreation services do cost you more than translations, but at the end of the day, it is worth every single penny.
7. Internationalization – i18n
Do your developers know what internationalization is?
If not, they better should.
Because if you want to take your website to global audiences, your developers must have a good understanding of Unicode. Otherwise, it should hire a developers’ team or a company that is well-practiced in website localization.
While choosing the development partners, you should be considering the following thing:
- They must know how to adapt your data to the foreign language
- Codes should be generated keeping in mind local preferences
- Keep the web content separated from the code
8. Don’t Forget to Test
Last but certainly not least, you should be conducting detailed testing to make sure that your finalized localized website is error-free. Here are a few things you need to check before making your website live to foreign audiences.
- International SEO
- Grammatical errors,
- Spelling mistakes,
- Choice of words and sentence structure
- Cultural relevance of the language
- Form functionality
- Use of colors, images, and layouts
- Encryption algorithms, etc.
Make sure your localization service provider professionally handles the project, and there are no blunders. It is better to hire native translators, who know the source language, to generate the translations that connect with your potential customers.
Summing up the discussion, we can say that businesses should get themselves proficient in website localization to earn greater profits and make their global brand successful. Communicating with your audiences in their native language makes them better connect with your brand, and it also increases their probability of buying from you. Some businesses prefer to use online tools for localization purposes, some go for hiring dedicated employees and some would hire a trusted localization company to do the job. How you get your localization done depends primarily on your budget and the overall website localization strategic plan.