10 Steps to Implement Website Localization from Scratch
Companies spend a lot of time creating and publishing content on their sites to maximize profitability and facilitate website localization. Google’s SEO approaches can be tedious to implement, which is why it is frustrating when your content marketing strategies have low sales potentials—especially if you are exploring new markets. The first question to ask yourself is whether your target readers can understand the content on your site, or if you will have to speak their native dialects to be on the same page. Without effective website localization, international companies like Airbnb would hardly generate substantial revenues abroad because consumers tend to purchase products or services whose labels and descriptions are adapted to a language they can comprehend.
Website localization refers to the presentation of web content (such as multimedia, text, and images) in your target audience’s native language. The process guarantees that both Chinese and American visitors will consume similar content without being impeded by language or cultural barriers, and ultimately have good customer experiences. For example, while Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in December, Mainland China marks the Chinese New Year between January and February. Therefore, without effective website localization practices, it would be uneconomical to post the same content in both countries during the first and last months of the year—more than half of your global audience might not identify with the message.
Less than 30 percent of the world’s population understands written English. While more than 4 billion people used the Internet last year, at least 1.5 billion users came from non-English speaking nations like India and China. Therefore, you cannot conduct a robust global marketing campaign without working with reliable localization experts.
Since localized websites increase search-engine visibility, they facilitate sales efficiency. When prospective international clients come across your website and find your product information useful, some will make a purchase. But sales could plummet if the marketing team fails to account for local beliefs, language, and cultural practices in their copy during website localization. Furthermore, the readers may not need to visit your website multiple times or call your sales agents to seek clarification—thus reducing the time it takes between the first brand-consumer interaction and sales.
One of the strategies website localization professionals encourage companies to adopt is to advance the user-experience by translating meta tags and keywords. Google Analytics will show you where most of your audience lives, and you can use that information to find out about their cultural influences (like language and social dynamics) and tailor your metadata to meet their consumption needs. But how exactly do you localize a website from scratch?
How to Localize your Website
1. Assess the investment
Do not jump on board with any investment opportunity before determining its potential to expand your bottom line. You cannot go global and succeed if you do not conduct extensive market research—how else will you gather information about existing demand, local legislations, and cultural practices? Generic data will not help you come up with the best business models; you have to break your prospective consumer’s personas down and use marketing and localization to grab their attention. Tastes, competition, vocabulary, and tonal variations are a few of the factors that must be considered if you want to generate good copy on your website. Returns on investments depend on the quality of work that goes into this phase.
2. Understand your project scope
Localization is not translation. Translation refers to the act of converting words and phrases from its original dialect to another without changing its meaning. In contrast, localization processes are highly comprehensive and focus on non-textual, cultural elements together with linguistic components to adapt brand identity needs with that of its target consumer’s geographical location. Make sure you define the full scope of your localization goals and prepare both developers and translators for any challenges you may anticipate during deployment.
3. Internationalize your platform
Website internationalization is the act of organizing an original site for dialectal variations. This process expedites content localization by making it easier for creators and translators to publish texts and images once it has been translated and contextualized. It involves simple tasks like designing and determining the number of images to be used or how much more or less space will be required for the translated text. Your programmers will do most of the heavy lifting—they have to fulfill back-end coding responsibilities to mate the site more target country-specific. For instance, developers use Hreflang tags to inform search engines about the dialect in which a website is published.
4. Implement audience-specific designs
As you come up with new website designs, consider your target audience’s consumption experiences. Case in point, unlike English and French, Arabic is written from left to right. Korean and Japanese texts are also written vertically—which should influence your design parameters. Furthermore, English to Italian translations require more characters than the original text, so incorporate flexible layouts on time to avoid delays. Companies like Louis Vuitton have developed a universal template for the global audience using minimalistic contemporary designs that do not take up too much space. Optimize your site for a high-end mobile experience because most of your users will access your platform via smartphones.
5. Translate your content
If you fail to nail this phase, then all the effort it took to get perfect images or program the right code would have been for nothing. Rely on native speakers for translation tasks because they understand which lingo makes your target audience tick. Make sure the translated text has the same charisma and wisdom as your original content; otherwise, it will seem ‘watered-down.’ Instead of making your team members translate previous content word for word, you can give them a list of keywords and let them engage in the transcreation of outstanding publications. Translation management software reduces the amount of time the translators spend on repetitive tasks to facilitate website localization.
6. Set you SEO Strategy
Both your original and localized website’s success depends on your SEO game. Do not just translate existing keywords into a new language. Remember that culture and dialects influence what people search for on the internet. Using native local marketers for your website localization needs will provide the best value for money because they can focus your keywords on expressions that locals are wont to use. External links also vary from country to country due to language barriers.
Moreover, Google is not popular in every country. Territories like China and Russia use Baidu and Yandex, others also rely on Yahoo and Bing. The important thing is to optimize your site for your target audience’s favorite search engine.
7. Pick the right artwork
Two factors affect the ability to choose the right illustrations for your website localization goals. The image texts must be adapted to the local language and culture, and no component should violate any cultural limits. If you ignore these conditions, the images could cause a negative cultural impact and discourage new consumers from selecting your products. Branding elements like icons and logos should not incorporate religious symbols, animals, or buildings.
8. Review local legal restrictions and regulations
Laws that govern e-commerce and international financial transactions differ between countries. When you learn about what you can and cannot do in a specific region, you get to adopt appropriate website localization strategies and save a lot of money that you would have otherwise spent on fines and bad investments. Some offenses may not even be criminal. For instance, Muslim countries consider pork haram or sinful for human consumption, so you want to stick to products that do not contain any meat, bones, oils, or leather which came from a pig.
9. Optimize your website speed
Upload and download speeds are not the same everywhere. Underdeveloped countries tend to have lower Internet speeds than developed economies, so your website localization processes should account for these variations. Make sure you do not run a heavy website in an area with low Internet connectivity and unsatisfactory WiFi speeds. Replace all the large files with compressed versions and restrict most of your data to HTML formats to maintain a high-quality consumer experience. A good example is Boomplay, a music app that targets African consumers, which uploads files as low as 2kb in size to reduce loading speeds.
10. Test your website
You have to conduct tests prior to the official launch, or else, you might ruin your chance at a good first impression and reaping the benefits of website localization. Extensive site testing is crucial before the public is introduced to the product, especially when you allow native specialists to run the show. Website localization checks involve image appropriates, hyperlinks, shopping cart navigation, plugin updates, encryption algorithm, entry fields, hardware suitability, broken designs, and load time. You should also conduct language checks like keywords misuse, grammatical errors, wrong spellings, readability, untranslated strings, and violations of cultural practices or beliefs.
Using website localization to forge new paths
Without an effective website localization strategy and a skilled team, your globalization ambitions are dead on arrival. Translation should not be the only localization trick up your sleeve. You need the right images and metadata combinations, and native marketing experts who understand the intricacies of appealing to your target market overseas.
Looking to boost your website reach and engagement with your global markets? Learn more about how you can use Tarjama for website localization that resonates with each local market.