Website Localization 101: Step-by-Step Guide with Effective Tips
Your website represents your brand locally and internationally. The appearance of the website plays a huge role in building your brand image in a global marketplace. It has become important for companies to build a multilingual brand presence to make it more resonant with diversified audiences. Website localization aims to make your products and services more relevant to potential customers. However, doing your website localization right is also significant to make it work in your favor. You have to be aware of the major localization mistakes that most companies are making.
In this post, we will give you some quick guidelines to do your website localization in 8 steps. Read this article to learn how to execute your website localization strategy the right way.
What is Website Localization?
Website localization is the process of adapting all elements of your website to meet the needs of local audiences. From translating your website content to designing modifications and adapting formats to payment methods, you have to localize all aspects of your site to local preferences. Considering the global diversification in culture, social norms, and languages of target audiences, you have to modify your website to better connect with your customers.
Through website localization, you can create a better online customer experience and build their trust in your brand. There are different approaches you can adopt to localize your website, such as in-house localization or outsourcing your localization processes to a third-party service provider.
Why is Website Localization Important?
Most businesses ask questions like, why do they need to localize their website? How can localization help them earn more revenue? Well, localization is perhaps the best thing you can do for your global business expansion. When you localize your brand to the local needs of the customers, you are creating more relevance and your target audiences can better connect with your products and services.
It is estimated from research that around 40% of customers don’t buy a product if it is not in their native language. Undoubtedly, language is the primary source of communication between a company and its customers.
When you translate your brand message into the local language, you can better communicate with your customers and build long-lasting relations with them. Localizing your brand would eliminate the cultural barriers, and you could smoothly enter a foreign marketplace.
Step By Steps Guidelines for Effective Website Localization
There is a lot that goes into website localization, and it’s not just about direct translations. You must have a technical and strategic understanding of website localization to do it the right way. Here are some important guidelines to follow while localizing your website.
1. Conduct In-depth Market Research
If you want your website localization to work in your favor, you must have a keen understanding of all the markets you are targeting. Knowing the cultural values of different markets would allow you to attract local customers and make them buy from you. Based on each region, you have to identify your buyer’s personas, and keeping that in mind, you can better cater to their demands.
Market research is also important to know whether or not a market has potential for your brand. Moreover, it will also allow you to access the tactics of other competitors or determine if the locals can afford your product or services. So, market research would give you an idea of all the financial and cultural indicators that you should consider while localizing the website.
No matter how amazing your brand is, 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 service, you can’t make it in those markets. So, having comprehensive market research is crucial to entering 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. Develop a Strategic Plan
In a website localization strategy, you have to make a comprehensive plan about how you will execute your localization process, what resources you will need, and what methods you will use down the line. First, you must figure out the linguistic, and cultural diversification in the various regions you’re targeting. You have to design multiple versions of your website for each region, considering the culture and local interests. When you begin developing a robust localization strategy that aligns with these considerations, it will help you maintain focus and prevent distractions.
In the planning step, you’ve got to list down your localization needs. For instance, you need the tools and resources, and you also have to assemble your localization team. Before starting your localization, you must have a clear growth vision for the company in mind. Moreover, you have to develop a localization timeline and budget to keep things under control from a time and money viewpoint.
3. Location-Specific Keyword Research
Optimizing your website for local SEO is important to enhance your website’s visibility in all regions. Because of differences in languages, users use different phrases to search for a product online. That’s why you have to do geo-specific keyword research to rank your website in all targeted regions. For this, you must hire someone who understands multilingual SEO techniques, so your ranking will improve and there will be more traffic on your website.
Localizing the website is not as simple as translating the keywords into the local language. You have to develop a separate SEO plan for each region, analyzing the terms and phrases used to search for online brands like yours. For instance, although Americans and British both speak English. But still, there is a huge difference in their words and spellings, such as Americans using the term “vacation”, and British people using “holiday” to describe the same thing.
4. Assemble Localization Teams
Building your team of experienced localization experts and translators is crucial for your successful website localization. How you will assemble your localization team entirely depends on your approach to website localization. For instance, if you want to manage your localization processes in-house, you have to bring in more dedicated employees. Project managers can outsource their localization tasks to professional freelancers. Most managers hesitate to outsource their projects and keep loading work on their full-time employees. It can badly impact their work efficiency and lead to a lot of quality issues as well.
You must consider getting freelancers on board to manage the excessive work. Or, you can partner with a professional language service provider to handle your website localization. In this case, you don’t have to take on the burden of website localization planning and execution. All you have to do is collaborate with your LSP vendor and provide them with proper guidelines, reference material, and feedback regarding localization outcomes.
Ideally, you must establish processes and systems to manage remote and external teams along with internal ones. This way, you will have more control over your project without overburdening the internal teams.
5. Bring in the TMS Tool
Probably the most important step is to get your hands on advanced TMS or CAT tools to effectively cope with the increasing localization needs. Companies that are targeting multiple marketplaces have a hard time meeting the increasing website localization needs. There should be a reliable system in place that would automate your localization processes, relieving your workload.
TMS tools come with a lot of features and functionalities. From machine translation to automated file management and integrations, these advanced systems would ease your localization journey. You can easily generate high-quality and culture-appropriate translations quickly into multiple languages. TMSs also contain editing and QA tools to support your translators in effortlessly carrying out daily translation processes. You can customize your TMS tools as per your unique website localization needs.
If you have localization teams working at a remote location, having a cloud-based TMS would allow your remote employee to collaborate with a house team in real-time. TMSs enable better communication and enhance project transparency because everyone has access to the same version of files and documents. There would be fewer chances of redundant data and repeated information.
Moreover, less time is wasted on sending the file back and forth to other team members. There is no need to send excessive emails to employees because whenever an update happens in a project, it is notified to all employees on the TMS.
6. Internationalize the Website
Internationalization of a website is an approach to developing your website that keeps localization in mind in the first place. It is the process of making your website prepared for localization. While developing the website, you must instruct the developers to design the code in a way that is easier to modify later. And, they better not hardcode anything in the initial website design that needs to be localized for other regions, such as text, formatting, and designs. Hard-coding your website makes it very challenging for developers to localize it later. It takes a lot of time because you have to make a complete version of the website from scratch. Or, extracting hard-coded elements from websites and localizing them is also very time-consuming.
Make sure your website developers are familiar with Unicode, so you can develop your website ready for localization. It would allow you to easily modify the formatting of the site and change its design and other elements for every region more conveniently. So, you can easily deploy a website for any marketplace without any need to rebuild it.
7. Translating the Web Pages
Translation is one of the most crucial aspects of website localization. Translating your website helps you eliminate language barriers and makes your brand feel more resonate with customers. For translating the website, you must hire native translators, so there will be no cultural gaps in translations. The demand for localization continuously increases as your business grows. You have to translate large volumes of content into different languages, which will take a lot of time and effort if you’re depending on human translators.
You need a machine translation tool that will generate automated translations quickly, so you can easily manage the localization workloads. MT tools use advanced AI technology to produce translations that are high quality and in context. Some tools are so powerful that they can generate human-like translations. It will also save you money because you don’t have to pay salaries to full-time translators, and machines will handle most of your translation load. You can use paid TMS tools to generate automated translations. But make sure you have them proofread and edited by human translators to avoid any quality issues.
As far as translations are concerned, combining the latest technology with human expertise would allow you to manage your work effectively without compromising the quality of speed. However, you better beware of open-source translation tools. Because the quality of the translation may not be up to par, it would have a huge effect on your international brand image.
8. Testing Before Launch
Once you have completely localized your website, it’s time to test it so there will be no technical or logical issues. There are many elements you need to test before launching your website in any foreign marketplace. The major website technical functionalities to keep in mind are formats (time, date, currency, etc.), UI designs, encryption algorithms, hyperlinks, loading time, payment methods, hardware capabilities, etc. As far as linguistic accuracy is concerned, you must double-check all grammatical and spelling errors, readability issues, cultural gaps, or any misuse of keywords. To make sure everything is on point and there are no issues on the website, you need to develop a testing environment.
Here are a few things you need to check before making your website live for 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.
Once you have performed all technical and linguistic testing on a website and made the required corrections, your website is good to be launched in your targeted marketplace.
Localizing your website is critical to your international brand’s success. You must follow the step-by-step guidelines provided in this article to do your website localization right. Managing a website localization project is not that hard if you have partnered with a reliable TMS solution provider. MarsCloud is a one-stop localization platform that allows you to manage your website localization projects cost-effectively. Moreover, you would have more control over your localization workflows, and you could easily manage your internal and external teams.