How to Localize Your Website
At its simplest, website localization is the process of refining and optimizing web content through culture, language, and flow to provide the most useful and relevant experience for users. It’s not the same as translation: localizing content takes into consideration the nuances of the target region. Some words can have the same definition, but different meanings in different contexts. Similarly, there are always different dialects of a language, like Spanish in Spain, Spanish in Mexico, and Spanish in South America.
Most companies may not understand the difference between localization and translation, but effective website localization is far more nuanced than simply displaying words in a new language. Read on to learn how to think about website localization—and how to execute it in powerful, authentic ways.
Globalization vs. Internationalization vs. Localization
Globalization, internalization, and localization are three different concepts related to how businesses operate and expand their operations. Globalization refers to the integration of economies, cultures, and societies across the world. In business, globalization involves expanding operations into different countries and regions, establishing a global supply chain, and adapting products and services to meet the needs of diverse cultures and new markets.
Internationalization is the process of creating software or mobile apps that are then localized to target unique cultures, regions, and languages. Software developers and engineers do this to help ensure that websites are successfully localized and that the website can support other languages and cultures.
Localization refers to the process of adapting products, services, and marketing strategies to meet the specific needs and preferences of a particular local market. This can involve changes to language, design, branding, or product features to better appeal to local consumers. Website localization can help companies gain a deeper understanding of local markets and establish stronger relationships with customers.
The Basics of Localization
Localizing a website requires five key elements
- Language and regionalisms ensure that copy, content and brand voice come through accurately and authentically—and make users feel like the site experience has been customized for them.
- Cultural elements of communication like date and time formats, units of measure and local holidays ensure that websites communicate an understanding of global nuances and make users feel at home on the site.
- Transactional elements such as currency, payment options, addresses and character sets are not only important for the local feel of the site, but for the accuracy and proper handling of transactions and on-site conversions.
- Local communication and trust elements such as phone numbers, local addresses, in-language customer support, legal notices and security banners may not seem mission-critical, but they’re key to engaging with local audiences. They also ensure that your in-market sales and marketing teams have the information they need to serve your customers.
- Navigation and discovery for your translated site is critical to helping users select the language they need, and immediately start interacting with your site in an authentic way.
4 Benefits of Website Localization
Website localization can provide several benefits for businesses looking to expand their global reach. Here’s what you can expect to gain from the right localization for website strategy:
- Increased sales and revenue: A localized website can help businesses tap into new markets and reach customers who may not have been able to engage with the brand otherwise. By providing a website that is accessible and relevant to local customers, businesses can increase sales and revenue and establish a stronger foothold in local markets.
- Improved SEO and website traffic: Localized websites that are optimized for local search engines and keywords can help improve search engine rankings, which can drive more traffic to the website. By using the right keywords and phrases in local languages, businesses can increase their visibility to local customers who are searching for their products or services online.
- Increased customer engagement: Localization allows businesses to tailor their website to the specific needs and preferences of a local market, which can increase customer engagement and satisfaction. By providing content that resonates with local audiences, businesses can create a more personalized experience that encourages customers to spend more time on the website and engage with the brand.
- Improved brand reputation: Localization can help businesses establish a stronger presence in local markets, which can improve their reputation and credibility with local customers. By showing a commitment to meeting the needs of local customers, businesses can build trust and loyalty, which can lead to long-term success and growth in new markets.
How to Begin Localizing a Website
Are you ready to localize your website? To lay a strong foundation, you’ll want to ask yourself:
- Am I committed to creating a fully authentic, multilingual site so that my users know that I’m invested in their experience? (You’ll read more about this in an upcoming section.)
- Do I have the right professionals on my team to support my site as it scales? A great partner can help make this easy.
- Are my in-market sales teams asking for a more complete, robust online experience for their customers? If the demand is there, it might be time to meet it.
- Is my content engaging and enriching enough to attract local audiences? You’ve already invested in a powerful online experience, and you want to maximize the return on that investment.
How to Keep Your Website Relevant
When you localize, in-market visitors to your site should be able to experience all the elements, concepts and content that they use in their everyday lives.
That means making sure your content uses the culturally relevant, preferred terminology, phrases and slang of the local customers you’re serving. Literal translations can come across as obviously out of touch with the local culture, and compromise things like SEO and brand integrity.
This approach includes localizing multimedia content, too. Having images, video content and PDFs appear in the correct local language can enhance brand credibility and encourage interaction with content.
As always, the devil is in the details. Make sure important content on your site is digestible and useable in your global customers’ language—from localized currency and payment options to units of measurement, address formats and contact information. With these critical localizations in place, your customers won’t miss a beat as they’re spending time on your site.
What Needs to Be Localized?
Great website localization means thinking beyond the site itself to all the digital assets, content and channels that make up your international digital presence.
First and foremost, consider how locals will discover your site. Make sure regional search engines know about your new local website, so you’re easy to find in search results. Working with a website localization or translation partner that knows SEO can give you an advantage, too, by thinking beyond localized keywords and leveraging advanced technologies like Proxy. This ensures the translated version of your website properly displays in your customers’ local search engine results.
The most advanced providers can help with powerful user preference-detection technology for your site that can do things like seamlessly welcome first-time visitors in the language they’re likely to speak and help them find the localized site that best fits their needs.
And make sure your omnichannel content—such as email campaigns, social media posts and offline assets—is translated, too. You need to consider things like social media handles and pop-ups, as well as how localizing affects format. For instance, Arabic reads right to left, which must be taken into consideration. Work with a partner that can help you find and localize this content and ensure that it’s connected to your digital presence in all the right ways.
Why Microsites Aren’t Enough
As you expand to international markets with your digital presence, one thing becomes abundantly clear: local markets expect a website experience that is every bit as fantastic as the one on your flagship site.
It can be tempting to solve the localization problem with a simplified microsite that takes your company’s essential information, translates it into the local language, and serves up an abridged experience to those users.
But users regularly abandon websites that don’t provide consistent language experiences or deliver compromised experiences in favor of taking a simplified approach.
As you extend your global reach into new markets, strike the right balance with powerful website translation that doesn’t compromise the user experience.
Website Localization Is an Investment in Your Global Business
As you consider ways to adapt your company’s website for local markets, look for solutions that deliver accurate and authentic website translations and offer engagement-boosting localizations.
Doing website localization well requires world-class translators, powerful technology that can serve the right localized content it to the right audiences, and powerful workflows and translation management capabilities to easily publish, track and update the customized content you’ve invested in.
Your global business deserves the best digital presence possible. Work with a partner that can elegantly employ both website translation and localization to ensure clear, effective, relatable content for every market where you do business.