With the rise of the internet, consumers and web users can access products and services from around the world with just one click. As we continue this transition to a truly global community, every business and website owner needs to think about how to provide better service for customers and website visitors at home and abroad. One of the best ways to do this is through website localization, and when done effectively, it can transform your website from a local hit into a global giant.
In this guide we’ll discuss why website localization matters, when the right time is to localize your site, and how to conduct a highly effective localization campaign.
What is Website Localization?
Website localization refers to the process of adapting a website or webpage for a specific language and cultural region. When you localize your website, you make it more relevant to the people in a specific part of the world which makes them more likely to engage with your site, or pay for your products or services. Every major business today needs to implement website localization in order to stay competitive in our increasingly global world. There are many companies out there, such as Alconost, that provide high-quality localization and translation services.
Why is Website Localization Important?
There are three main goals that most companies hope to achieve through website localization:
1. Provide Better Products and Services
Customers are happiest when they can find products and services which fit their specific needs. In order to meet these needs, you need to understand exactly what it is customers expect from your brand. Unfortunately, this can be challenging when trying to serve an international market with multiple languages, and different cultural expectations.
Providing a localized version of your website is about far more than just translating it into a new language. You also need to incorporate local currencies, payment methods and cultural references in order to give your customers what they want. For example, if someone from France visits your eCommerce clothing site, but your website only has UK sizes and prices, the customer is likely to shop elsewhere, even if you have translated the product descriptions into French.
2. Increase Your Customer Base
Website localization allows you to expand your customer base into new markets as the number of countries with Internet access has increased significantly over the past decade. In first-world countries, more than 85% of people have access to the Internet, while the numbers in developing countries are constantly on the rise. China is the biggest emerging market, and with almost one billion people now having Internet access, creating a localized Chinese version of your website can take it to a whole other level. With people becoming more and more comfortable making online purchases across borders, localization is the best way to take advantage of these new opportunities.
3. Enter New Markets More Smoothly
When entering a foreign market, there are various potential issues that can arise, and so you need to make sure that your website goes through all the necessary localization processes. To enter the Japanese market, for example, your business’s website may need to be translated with a more formal tone than the original English version. This is due to Japanese business culture being far more formal than in the West. Making simple mistakes in tone or formality when expanding into new markets can turn potential new customers off immediately, so culturally sensitive website localization is key.
When is the Right Time to Localize Your Website?
There are several factors that will influence when the right time is to localize your website, with the main one being the age and size of your website. For example, if you are right now in the process of building a brand-new eCommerce site, then is the perfect time to start localization as it will enable you to reach out to international customers straight away.
However, if you already have an established site, you will need to factor in whether localization will require large-scale changes to your existing site architecture. For example, if you have a five-year-old website that is heavily reliant on the Google ranking algorithm then it may be more difficult to implement localization at this late stage. This is why it is always best for new and smaller websites to start localizing from day one rather than waiting until they’ve built up more content.
How to Conduct a Highly Effective Website Localization Campaign
1. Identify your Target Markets
The first step in conducting a successful international website localization campaign is to clearly define your target audiences and markets. This will simplify the process of identifying relevant languages, cultural preferences, and other factors that will help you to understand what is needed from your products or services.
A good way to go about this is to create buyer personas for each country you plan on reaching out to. Buyer personas are fictional representations of typical customers in those new markets which take into account things like average salary, spending patterns, and regional trends.
2. Put Together your Localization Team
The ideal composition of your team will depend on what type of website or business you have, but some roles are common across all organizations:
- The Project manager – The project manager’s role will depend on the specific task, but their main focus will be making sure everyone involved in the translation process knows what they’re doing and has everything they need to get the work done efficiently. This may include managing budgets, assigning tasks, and communicating with the various members of the team.
- Native Translators – There is no substitute for having native speakers on your website localization team. They will be able to understand regional trends and nuances, know which terms work best, and easily identify any potential cultural issues.
- Developers – Developers are required to create the correct tags for content, set up your CMS properly and make sure all translated pages are automatically routed through this system, so there’s no need to do anything manually once translations have been completed.
3. Implement the Best Localization Software
Even if you have a great team, it won’t matter much if they don’t have the right tools. There are many localization software products available that will help with everything from file formatting and translation to eCommerce localization.
A good place to start is by choosing a platform that can handle all aspects of your international expansion plans in an integrated environment. For example, there are platforms that allow translators and developers to work on content simultaneously – giving them both greater control over their tasks without getting bogged down in technicalities.
4. Optimize your Website for Different Regions
There are specific issues that need addressing when dealing with a multilingual website such as search visibility across multiple countries or how different versions of your page rank comparatively. Therefore, it’s important to optimize your site for each language individually, taking into account search engine preferences and regional trends. For example, if you want more traffic coming from Germany, then you must include German keywords and phrases to make it easier for Google’s crawlers to find you.
5. Test Your Localized Website
Once all that is done, the last step is to test your localized version thoroughly before going live so that you can iron out any bugs or errors beforehand. You may also want to run A/B tests on pages that include translated content versus those without translations just so you know what works best from an optimization standpoint. If everything goes well then you’ll be ready to launch your new website!
Localization can provide so many opportunities for businesses and individuals who are looking to take their website international, but only when implemented correctly. Take into account everything in this guide, and you will have a great chance of reaping the benefits provided by new customers in new markets. If you are unsure about any aspect of localization, the best thing to do is to speak to a professional localization team, like Alconost, who will be able to take care of the process for you.
About the Author
Kris Trusava is the Localization Marketing Manager at Alconost, a localization company that translates games, apps and videos for companies who want to break into foreign markets.