The internet boom of recent times has been a game changer for many businesses. With more than 3.7 billion internet users around the world today, finding customers isn’t so hard anymore. Companies can leverage the power of internet to grow their brand, grow their customer base, and ultimately grow their revenues.
Sounds good, right?
But while this expanded access to international customers may bring greater profits for the companies, it might also pose some hard challenges for them. And the only way to tackle these challenges head-on is through localization.
When the words “localization” and “translation” are spoken, the first image that conjures up in most people’s head is the conversion of one language to another. But localization is much more than that—particularly website localization that has its own set of hurdles that businesses must cross to get to the other side of globalization borders.
What is Website Localization
Website localization is the process of resonating your web content according to the specific region. It is a step ahead of translation. Website localization includes altering the content and the graphics of the site as per the cultural, regional, and linguistic nuances.
You also need to make technological changes so that global potential clients can navigate your website globally.
Localization of content and graphics will have a great impact on your website. In the website localization process, you have to change the buttons to accommodate the contraction and expansion of the language which occurs in the translation process.
For this, you have to make some technological changes so that global potential clients can navigate your website easily.
According to a study from Common Sense Advisory, if your website is not translated into the native language of your target audience, the customers coming to your site will exit faster even before you have time to register their views. This is why it is so important to follow these best practices for a seamless website localization.
1. Know who you are selling to
The first step in localization of any content is to know who you are selling to. For that you need to analyze which markets will bring in the greatest revenues but going global without proper research would lead to losing customers instead of bringing more.
Conduct specific research before deciding to take a step ahead. Know your international buyer personas by carefully researching on the language they speak, their cultural background, traditions, and buying habits. Try asking these simple, yet useful questions when identifying your target market:
• What is the target market’s growth rates?
• Can local buyers afford to buy your products?
• What are the buying habits and preferences of the target customers?
• How much is the competition in the market?
• What are the cultural and linguistic nuances to be kept in mind before localizing?
2. Define your Project Dimensions
After you have outlined the scope of taking your business international, the next step is to explore inward and define the dimensions of your project. When localizing, it is important to know that different countries come with different localization challenges of their own. Adapting to your target customer and the cultural and corporate environment they live in is not a choice, but a necessity.
For that, defining your project dimensions is necessary step that must be taken. This involves selecting the regions you want to target, setting the scope of your project and understanding the technologies required for localization. This is the point where it will be decided whether to take the services of an expert translation vendor or not.
3. Internationalize your Website
After defining the scope of your project, the next step is internationalization of your website. Internationalization (i18n) is the process of preparing your originally created website in other languages. This internationalization should be considered from the start as the website design, interface, layout and coding will all be a part of this internationalization process.
To ensure smooth internationalization, it is important that your chosen translators and your programmers work together as it might seem a difficult task at the beginning but will ultimately pay off in the end.
4. Deliver a unique user experience
The key to successful localization for your website is taking care of user experience. User experience research of your target market is necessary as it helps to maintain a global branding and image.
Users with different cultures have different perceptions and preferences of web elements such as website layout, multimedia, and ease of navigation. For example, website users in Indonesia prefer websites with a lot of graphics and interactive features whereas American users tend to prefer simpler, text-based layouts.
Your translation vendor needs to know the targeted cultural group’s values and cultural behaviors as a proper research into user experience of target audience is a necessary prerequisite to website localization.
5. Implement your SEO Strategy
Just like you have an SEO strategy for your original website, an SEO strategy for your localized website is also important. But this modification of SEO strategy is not just about translating your keywords. Different countries use different keywords and search terms so working with a native SEO specialist is mandatory for understanding the search term preferences of the target audience.
Your selected translation agency should have a list of keywords that they need to include to make the translations more relatable for the target audience. Devising an SEO strategy also involves optimizing your website for different search engines, depending on your target audience. Google may be the most popular search engine in the rest of the world, but not in China where Baidu is the boss.
6. Hire a Localization Expert
This is the most important of all the pre-requisites of website localization. A competent localization expert can be your biggest asset when localizing with your website. For that, the chosen translation vendor should have an experience and quality certification to its name to ensure that your website is localized smoothly.
Other criteria that the translation vendor must fulfill are the number of translators and the user interface experts present in your translation vendors to make your website culturally and linguistically appropriate. Good translation vendors are aware of the cultural issues and know well how to translate content on your flagship website
Also read: The Process of Website Localization
7. Test, Test and Re-test:
With localization, as in all spheres, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make sure you do it right! Run extensive tests and re-tests before going for the final launch of your website. For that, get down to work with native specialists to run a thorough test check that will include all localization as well as linguistic testing.
For localization testing, ensure that your website has the right encryption algorithms, entry fields, hyperlinks, form functionality, and hardware compatibility. For linguistic testing, ensure that there are no misspelled words, offensive words, images, or untranslated text strings. Testing will ensure you are able to make that first lasting impression on the new audience.
Website localization is the key to attaining a foothold in foreign waters, so make sure that you tick all the right boxes. A properly localized website can be your bridge to an international acclaim and a right localization partner can make that journey easier for you. Sometimes, simple tweaks and effort on your website can turn out to be your best investment. Don’t stay behind in that quest to go global—and don’t be afraid to experiment