This post was most recently updated on September 20th, 2023
[A collaboration post – all thoughts are my own.]
How many non-English websites do you encounter in a month?
With so many different languages and buying preferences, localization for websites can seem overwhelming.
The list of website localization failures is very long. If you don’t want to join the thousands of websites that have goofed internationally, you’ll need to get it right, but if you’re stopping before you start or buckling under the weight of the awesome task ahead, fear not.
What is website localization?
Perhaps some people thought website localization is the same as website translations. In fact, it is not. Localization for websites means you’re adjusting every aspect of it to fit your target markets, from payment processes that fit customer preferences to the layout that has enough space for different languages. The translation is only one part of the localization process.
However, the right website localization doesn’t just about adding a plugin to your site. If you want to communicate with your customers, machine translation won’t suffice. I don’t like to communicate with a robot. People don’t like being spoken to by robots, or as if they were robots.
So, if you want to capitalize on this goldmine of potential profit, you’ll need to invest in website localization. You’ll need different languages of your website that talk like a native – in a local and appealing way.
I’ll walk through what that looks like, and the five steps you should take if you’re ready for website localization.
Localization for Websites
Plan from the start
Live stats show that more than 5 billion people use the Internet every day. Most of them are from Asia, America, and Europe. If you’re thinking that most people speak English these days, you need to think twice. While many foreign-language speakers understand English or even speak it well, that doesn’t mean they’ll buy from an English language website.
Generally, companies would design websites with only one language and adding more language only after development. As you increase the length of your web pages, you also increase the chances of introducing bugs or translation errors. You can prevent this by translating your website as early as the design process, rather than waiting until the last moment.
Identify your target market
You don’t need to embark on a full-scale localization project into over 1,000 languages if your main customer is in one or two countries. Identify your target market – where you think your product will be more successful. Analyze the countries that are more likely to bring in greater results for your website localization project.
Try to identify your buyer personas by conducting specific research in each geographic region you want to approach. For example, The French are different from the Spanish. The Spanish don’t share the same culture as the Germans. More importantly, they don’t share the same language.
Even huge global players, like McDonald’s, had to close down their stores in some countries. Going global without proper research is cavalier and unadvisable.
If your product is partially popular in one region, start out there. Building a one-size-fits-all plan for Europe won’t be of any use to anyone. Your website localization will depend on how well you manage the process in all its stages. So, it’s essential to start out right with every country you approach.
Get your keyword research done
Once you’ve chosen your target markets and languages, you’ll need to get your lists of keywords prepared. This is important, as getting your international SEO right is essential for your SERP. Do you know how you optimize your website for search engines?
Well, not everyone in the world’s go-to search engine is Google. In China, they’re fans of Baidu. In Russia, they use Yandex. Not only do you need to know the terms your customers are searching for, but you’ll need to know the search engines they’re using as well.
Your translators should make use of key search terms in all languages, on-page, and off-page. That includes metadata, keyword density in your site, and external link anchors you use. There are often many ways of translating the same text, so it’s essential that you provide your translators with a list of essential keywords.
Remember that British and Americans speak don’t sound the same. If you’re optimizing your website for “vacations in London” for a UK audience, you’re off to a bad start. Vacation isn’t used much in British English, and your lack of research will be reflected in your SERP.
Use the right localization service
Localization is often confused with translation, the process of converting text from one language to another. While these terms might be somewhat similar, just as I mentioned in the beginning, translation is actually just one aspect of localization.
The term ‘localization’ stands for adapting content to fit a specific market or country and to accommodate the linguistic, cultural, political, and legal differences.
Website translation is one part of a localized website, and if you’re doing that with an agile method, can occur concurrently with design and development. Using the right translation or localization service will take the headache out of your website localization project.
When you need localization for websites, you will receive a full website translation makeover from Day Translations. It really doesn’t matter if you need localization services for websites, video games, software IU, mobile app, e-books, or corporate communications – Day Translations network of localization specialists is distributed around the world, so we pair you with an expert native to the culture you are targeting. Here is a full website translation makeover you will get:
- The words on your site are converted into a message that is clear to your target audience while conveying the meaning behind your original content.
- The design of your website is transformed to appeal to the eye of your new consumer — this includes colors, images, and font.
- The user interface of your website is reformatted to make sense to the target user — this includes date and time formats, currency, reading direction, and button placement.
Every localization specialist that they assign to your project is native to the culture you are targeting. No matter how many languages, how many cultures, how many games, trust your localization questions to their experts.
Internationalize your website
To internationalize your website, you’ll want to have a piece of code into your website that can automatically detect system preferences, domain, or location settings for the target audience so you know which language to fire. If it’s not supported, what fallback rules are in place, such as defaulting English speakers in European countries to UK English rather than the US.
Most website-building tools like WordPress, Wix, and HubSpot already have this covered. You’ll only need to do this step if you’re not using an established CMS. When in doubt, reach out to your CMS support team (or read through documentation) for help.
If it seems like a lot of hard work and you keep putting it off, remember to keep calm and carry on localizing. Remember the potential goldmine your business is sitting on and that any technical issues can be fixed. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be ready to launch your products in a new country!
Every great journey begins with a single step. Yours will begin by designing your website with localization in mind. Researching your target market and with a planned strategy, the right localization service, you’ll pull it off to perfection.