If you’re considering launching your business globally, one of the key steps of your plan will be to localize your website. If you’re in eCommerce, this segment is even more important. According to research, 56% of shoppers consider the ability to get information in their native language more important than the price of a product. Also, 76% of customers would rather choose products that feature information in their native language.
Unlike translation, which is transferring the meaning of a message from one language to another, localization is a full adaptation of a product or service to the linguistic, cultural, and political norms of the target market. It implies more than translation: graphic content, currency, color palettes and names are all a part of the localization process. If you’re going through the process of website localization, here are some of the most important things to keep in mind:
- Do local market research
Every localization project should be preceded by a thorough and careful local market research. Just like you looked at the strength, weaknesses, and opportunities of your home market before you launched your business, you need to do the same with your new target market. The easiest way to start is by creating a SWOT analysis, focusing on the following:
- Strengths – what can your business bring to the table? How are you better than the local competition?
- Weaknesses – what are you lacking compared to other businesses in that market? Are there any legal or regulatory issues that can hinder your success?
- Opportunities – is there a gap in the market that you can fill?
- Threats – are the barriers to entry low in that particular market? Are there chances of increased costs, less revenue, etc.?
- Work with experts and professionals
Nowadays, there are many individuals and amateurs online who offer services of website localization. They are usually native speakers who think they can do all that work by themselves. However, you should opt for professional agencies and companies instead. Try reaching out to TheWordPoint for certified document translation services. You should always search for agencies that specialize in website localization, because, as we said, it’s more than just pure translation.
Working with translation agencies gives you the added edge of project management, technical accuracy, and quality assurance. Agencies and companies might be pricier than individuals, but the professionalism and quality are unparalleled. Unfortunately, working with unreliable freelancers can turn out costlier than any other option.
Image source: TravelPayouts
- Create a terminology glossary
Naturally, terms and phrases on your website will repeat, since you’re working within an industry where all your content will revolve around similar topics. If you’re a SaaS provider, it’s unlikely that you will have “woodpecker” as one of your common words and phrases used on your website.
To create a glossary, use tools to extract the most commonly used words and phrases on your website. When you get the results, you can start identifying fixed phrases that are repeated often and finding fixed translations for them in the target language. You can receive help from professionals and click to find best translation agencies. This has two advantages:
1) The language on your website will be consistent, meaning there will be less chance for error and misunderstanding
2) You will easily onboard new localization experts when you decide to add more content to your website or re-vamp it
- Pay attention to graphics and UX
It’s a common mistake to focus all your attention on the textual part of a website and forget that other sections of the website also need to be localized. Firstly, you should aim to provide the same or better user experience as in the source language. For example, if you localized to a language that’s more verbose than your source language, you should make sure that the “extra” text doesn’t overflow in sections where it shouldn’t.
Another issue with graphics is that icons, symbols, and images almost always have a culturally-specific meaning and can be positively or negatively charged. Translators might miss this, but localization experts cannot. Do detailed research on the imagery you’re using on your website to make sure it’s appropriate in your target culture as well.
- Adapt your SEO strategy
When you localize your website to another language, it also goes for its SEO strategy. In other words, you also have to localize your keywords, links, headings, image tags, descriptions, etc. You should cooperate closely with your localization partner in order to come up with a new and improved SEO strategy for the target market where you are launching. Also, make sure you adapt and tweak your keyword research according to your new audience.
Image source: Search Engine People
The most important thing to remember in localization is that every time you’re not sure of something, reach out to experts or experienced individuals. Mistakes in website localization can be anything from costly to detrimental for your brand reputation. That’s why you should be very careful about these things, especially if you’re localizing to a language you don’t speak at all. The best way to go is to hire a professional localization agency that has experience with localizing websites.
Mark Blackwood is a linguist and a professional translator cooperating with several translation agencies around the world. He’s an expert in website and app localization who localized more than 200 websites in his career. Mark is also interested in eCommerce, digital marketing, and WordPress.