Ideal localization of a website requires a team of skilled professionals with maximum proficiency in all parts of the large and complex undertaking. Before you attempt a website localization project, use this guide to better understand what the process involves and the resources you'll need in order to achieve your projected ROI.
Table of Contents
Chapter 2: Define Your Localization Project
Chapter 3: Website Internationalization
Chapter 4: The Website Localization Process
Chapter 5: Test Before Launching Your Localized Website
Chapter 6: Website Translation Technology
Chapter 7: Top Tips for Website Localization
Effective website localization is a very large and complex undertaking that requires high proficiency in numerous specialized roles in the process. Here's a guide to the essentials of website localization, to help you obtain a good general overview of each part of the process of a typical localization project. It will further help you identify the professionals and technical resources you will need, in order to accomplish the professional outcome necessary for localization to produce a level of ROI that makes the enormous effort worthwhile.
The World Wide Web has opened access for your business to the multitude of overseas markets. Every day, over 3.5 billion people use the internet. So, today, virtually any business with a web connection can be a global seller. Of course, with the vast new foreign opportunities for companies looking to grow internationally, there comes the large task of localizing the marketing and sales website. This includes everything from fully localized text content, video advertising, blog content etc., to sales information such as product descriptions and video demonstrations, order placement directions, customer services, warranty information, instruction guides, company profiles, and others.
After all, even the farthest east of East Asian markets may be merely a mouse click away from your business, but to non-English-speaking users who can't understand your information, you remain a world away. Succeeding in those markets requires more than just speaking their language. Basic website translation is only a part of localization, and without localization, your message cannot be expected to be effectively conveyed.
Naturally, you know that it only makes sense to have messaging in your chosen international market that is as effective as your messaging in any other market, domestic or foreign. In order to deliver a compelling message, here's more involved in localizing for a market. Your content will also need to meet the format needs, use terms for local currency, use local cultural references vs. ones that are commonly understood by people a world away but are utterly unfamiliar to locals in your target foreign market. There's much more in addition to these requirements.
Localization requires research into every aspect of the foreign target market, into everything from household practices, to government rules and relations, to religious tenets, and so much more. In other words, localization must achieve everything in the presentation of the content that is necessary to provide a user experience that is the same quality as provided to users in your domestic market. To yield the ROI your aiming for in a foreign market, invest in localizing your website. to make it authentic, to make it a native and appealing resource for visitors in your target international market.
Why website localization is necessary
If visitors to your website can’t read the information on your website, or even if they can make out the message, but it all seems too unrelatable to their personal experience, they’ll exit quickly, and they won’t have a desire to come back. Your prospects are much more likely to end up buying from one of your competitors, perhaps one offering a poor value compared to your company's offering. This can be expected to happen when a competitor provides a better website experience, clearer information in their native language, and more comprehensible references to elements of their own culture and experience that make it possible for them to relate better to the competitor's offer.
So, make your website ideally relatable to your prospects in your particular target market. Make sure it's optimally clear in conveying what you're offering and how your product or service can benefit visitors to your site in the context of their lives, wherever they live.
Why do shoppers prefer to buy from localized websites?
It's much easier to build trust, when communicating with someone in their native language. People feel more at ease doing business with sellers who are speaking their own language when offering products and services and who trade in their own country's currency.
Therefore, with the ever-increasing number of businesses expanding to become global competitors, and so many conducting sales through websites localized for one or more foreign markets, it's becoming more important for people to be able to communicate effectively across language barriers, just as they must operate efficiently across physical borders in order to do business together smoothly.
So, naturally, you need to ensure that people can understand you clearly, in any language they speak, and help them make transactions with your company easily, whatever their normal purchasing conventions may be.
However, it's a major challenge to manage a full-scope website localization project. Top quality localization requires a highly skilled team, thorough market research, and meticulous project management. It's a daunting undertaking and a significant financial investment.
Chapter 1: Before You Begin Your Website Localization Project
There are various approaches you can take to localization. For example, there are numerous online translation sites and apps, but this is generally understood as a low-quality option. For one thing, machine translation technology can be very helpful for some tasks, when integrated into a larger localization project.
But, as a stand-alone localization solution, machine translation simply cannot produce the natural speech and sound that a human translator can readily achieve. Applying dialects correctly and adding other nuances of a human translator are also far beyond the capacity of a machine language translation.
There's also the challenge of capturing the finer points of the brand voice, which means your website localizer must find the appropriate text expressions and visual images to appeal to local and regional prospective buyers, while consistently maintaining company voice across all markets, both domestic and international.
If this all seems daunting to you, that's good. That means you understand the magnitude of a website localization project and the time, work, and financial stakes in it. There are so many languages, cultures, website locations, national and international rules, protocols, laws, histories, customs, values, norms, mores, it can seem like too much to accomplish.
Add the challenge of catering to the range of buyers' preferences and of effectively communicating the unique subtleties that should be conveyed to your prospects about your product and your brand, and it can seem overwhelming to take it all on.
But, there's abundant reason to be encouraged…
ROI in website localization
Like any large project, you need to be confident going in that it will succeed and that you know exactly what's to be expected of the processes, outcomes, costs and ROI in localizing your site. From there, seek the best team of experienced professionals with a strong track record of successful localizations that have enabled companies' sites to perform as hoped — encouraging increased traffic, generating leads, fostering and facilitating conversions, and realizing ROI.
Determining how much to project for ROI from website localization is not an exact science. However, for any business seeking to sell in international markets, it's abundantly clear that all necessary measures for ideal localization is the first fundamental for ensuring that you won't lose a large percentage of prospective sales due to failure to provide a properly localized web content on your sales site.
Market analysis — Before beginning preparations for your website localization project, figure out who where your appropriate target market is located. Do the necessary research to construe buyer personas for your international target market. Don't simply rely on generalized continental data to help you identify your ideal national or regional market.
Understand the local lifestyle of your target foreign market
Even if the majority of the people across the entire continent or throughout a large swath of it speak the same language, expect them to be using very different dialects, and practice unique regional usages for a vast array of words and phrases, and to have their own slang and local sets of references and other distinct ways of using language.
Research the available demographics, consumer data, economic reports, and other relevant data for the markets you're considering. Perform a comparative market analysis to determine which appears most likely to realize your revenue goals for the localized website.
Obtain thorough information on national, regional, and local laws. Understand the culture, including customs, taboos, generational attitudes, and other potentially limiting factors. Be sure that a sufficiently strong market actually exists for your product or service, before you choose a locale for your localization project.
Beyond the imposed restrictions and cultural influences, and varying vocabulary from region to region and even from one local area to the next, there are other differences that need to be accommodated in localization. Population centers at differing latitudes and/or altitudes live in different climates, with different seasons, and therefore have different fashions, priorities, lifestyles, daily routines and habits, foods, and so on. So, of course, you need to know if your product is a good fit with needs in the area that you're considering for your localization investment.
Tastes in all sorts of things, from pastimes to music to foods to aesthetics, manners of speech, general pace of living and attitudes about all kinds of things, among yet other specifics differ from area to area in many, if not most countries of the world, even those with the smallest total land area.
6 questions to ask yourself before localizing your website
How well your localized website performs financially for you will be the result of the accuracy of your market analyses and choice of viable target and the accuracy of your website localization. Ensuring your success in these interdependent processes is the formula for achieving excellent ROI in your localized website. Start by asking yourself these basic questions to make sure you're entering an appropriate market, with real potential for success of your localized site:
- Is there sufficient interest in your product to justify website localization for the area?
- How much competition does and/or will exists in the area?
- Can prospective customers in the area actually afford to buy your product?
- Will shipping, delivery, and customer support costs total within margins for profitability?
- Does the market potential make website localization for that market a good investment?
- Are there any insurmountable legislative or cultural impediments to my entry into that market?
Which languages should I focus on?
Be sure to factor everything mentioned above in your calculus for market selection. Even when product demand and economic indicators strongly seem to support a rationale for entry into a particular market region, ignoring complex cultural realities, legislative obstacles and other less direct, but nevertheless inevitable impactors can undermine the financial performance of your site.
For example, research has shown that, naturally, almost all Chinese consumers shopping online prefer using websites that are in their own language. However, only a small fraction of US retailers offers websites localized for China. Why? Reportedly, from various sources, it's because legislation imposing trade protections, complex cultural factor, and low demand in various areas contribute to discouraging performance.
Marketing translation & transcreation
The nature of marketing translation is that it’s necessary to reach as many people as possible, while staying within your company's financial limits. So, include all the national, regional, and local marketing factors and the financial realities in your feasibility analysis, before deciding to undertake a localization project for a particular market.
In our China example, the national market with obviously vast potential for a wide range of US American companies, based on the total of Chinese internet users. However, such raw statistics may be irrelevant, if the government or the dominant forces in your industry there are un-receptive to your hopes to enter that market.
Chapter 2: Define Your Localization Project
Localization involves much more than generic translation of a website's content into a different language. Individual countries, regions within the countries, and local areas within the regions, each present their unique arrays of challenges to localization.
Success of a project means overcoming all obstacles to adapting your site to the meet the specific needs and expectations of users in the national market, or any of its sub-markets in which you choose to make your entry. Identify the boundaries of the market you want to target, then further define the scope of your localization project.
Once you have selected the regions you want to target, set the scope of your project for all parties to the project, including project owners, liaisons, planners, legal consultants, managers, designers, researchers, writers, technicians, translators, testing teams, in-country reviewers, vendors, and others.
- Project owners — Leave nothing undone in the pre-project planning, discussions between website project owners and localization services provider (LSP). Ensure that all legal documents are fully agreed and that the contracts are actually executed prior to the scheduled start of any work, in order to prevent unnecessary delays or confusion.
- Governments — Ensure that the full scope of research into national, regional, and local regulations and restrictions on content in your website and international trading with the site has provided a thorough and clear understanding of your rights, privileges and limitations for doing business within your targeted market.
- Cultures — Conform your site's content and its dynamics in integrated communications through live chat, email and other vehicles to local market customs. This localization component is just as critical to your success in operating the site in your chosen foreign market as is the legislative compliance. So, be thorough in order to avoid being dismissed by prospective buyers due to committing cultural offenses.
- Technologies — Different countries don't necessarily use the same software, or the same devices or other hardware as other nations do. They may also rely on different search engines. Be sure that the developers you're working with are proficient in the programming languages to be used.
- Translators — Your translators need thorough information about expectations for their central role in the localization project. They need to know the target spoken language, the specific national, regional, and local dialects that they must capture, the necessary cultural references. They need to be provided with a front to back tour of all the pages of the website that is to be localized, including using its internal and external links, its fillable forms, engaging with its helper bots and other interactive functions, and anything else offered.
They need to know how many strings and words they'll be expected to translate, how to manage placeholders, how to submit their work, and so much more. Provide all translators with access to robust translation glossaries.
Translators need time to review the glossaries as well as guidelines for content culturalization, and example translations. They also should have access to web apps to be localized, to help them understand the expectations for user experience.
Developers need to provide translators with the opportunity to see strings in context, to help them achieve the most accurate translations possible as well as the nuances that make the content relatable to the audience for the translated version.
- Web developers — Lay out a crystal-clear vision for your developers. Make sure they know how many pages they're expected to code, and what the elements on the pages will be.
- Testers — Let everyone who will be involved in testing know what to expect, what the types and extent of in-house and external contractor will be conducted, and make sure each tester is ideally clear on his/her specific responsibilities in the tests they'll be performing.
Provide a comprehensive project guide (a.k.a. a "project bible") that fully addresses all project team members' information needs for preparation and execution of their roles in the localization process.
4 ways to localize websites
There are multiple approaches to localizing a website. Your choice is likely to be driven by your budget, your level of site quality needs, and the extent of your applicable in-house production resources.
High-quality website localization will allow you to reach and maintain a wider audience in your targeted international market. A team of localization experts is more effective in SEO of websites, and top professionals have the cutting-edge innovativeness, breadth of experience in top-tier localization projects, and the state-of-the art tools to enable the best outcomes.
However, cost can be an issue. There are several factors in calculating cost of website localization. Of course, As with most things in the commercial world, cost determines the level of quality that the amount of resources will allow. There are various options, and with each, naturally, you can expect to get the quality of result that your budget allows for the project:
- Free translation online — zero cost
- A general translation service — lowest cost for paid translation
- A freelance individual translation specialist — mid-range costs
- A website localization service — higher cost than an individual freelancer
How good are free instant online translations?
Free online instant translators are easy to test by simply cutting and pasting a block of foreign language text from a major foreign newspaper, magazine, or book into the translator tool in any one of the free translation websites. Ideally, use a text selection that you understand well from top to bottom, word for word, or that a translator has interpreted for you. Then, evaluate the quality of the outcome of the translation generated by the auto-translator. Repeat the test with several different blocks of text, to gauge the consistency of the translation quality.
The experiment works well enough even if you have no idea what the foreign language text says. The point is to examine the quality of the coherence of the translated text. Frequently, even with the most basic original text blocks, you can expect to find that the quality of the translation is typically pretty poor. After repeating the test multiple times with various text blocks, you can expect to find that the consistency of translation quality is extremely poor.
What are the differences between the 3 types of professional translation options?
General translation services can be a good value for website owners who need only generic translation and do not require the quality of a fully modern business site.
A freelance localization specialist can offer more specialized translation, applying techniques for culturalization, capturing many of the nuances that a general translation service is not set up to perform.
A full-scope LSP has an entire team of specialists and manages all phases of localization, including in-depth cultural research, top talent translators, the complete range of state-of-the-art technologies for the most complex website localization projects, teams of QA testing experts, and the industry's most highly experience project managers.
Chapter 3: Website Internationalization
After you have defined the scope of your project and know the size of the foreign market you want to target with your localization project, there is still a critical technical phase of pre-localization work that must be done to prepare your website structurally. This part of preparatory work is called internationalization.
Internationalization is the set of adaptations that you'll need to make in order to prepare your website for localization in a different language. After you have successfully internationalized your site, it will be your localization team will be able to make the changes needed to convert the content into the new language smoothly.
Once the internationalization work is completed, your site will be ready in advance for any future localization projects to adapt it for additional new languages for operation in other new foreign markets. Some of the key tasks involved in internationalization include:
- Leaving space in your site design, to help making new language text fit smoothly during the process of translating text content into a new language. Some words and expressions that take only a few words in one language may be much longer in another. This makes it necessary to maintain a flexible space for language coding in websites that will be localized.
Translating websites to English — The need for different space allowances becomes apparent, for example, when converting text from Italian or French to English. internationalization specialists will usually need to leave enough space for more words than are used in the original language in the menus, and in the CTA and Download buttons.
- Lay the correct technical groundwork to support encoding of any language's characters. Programmers will perform the necessary coding to make your website compatible with localization adaptations for each language and country.
Hreflang tags — Coders will apply hreflang tag attributes, to indicate to Google the language being used on each page of your site, so that the search engine can produce your site in its search results to users searching in the language of your localized site.
- Design to allow for various languages. Spanish audiences, for example read from left to right, whereas Arabic audiences read from right to left. Japanese, Chinese, and Korean audiences read text vertically. Therefore, the first priority of internationalization is to ensure that programmers use Unicode (UTF-8).
- — This Unicode Transformation Format is the localization industry standard, because it most easily supports coding in virtually all languages, even Chinese. It standardizes coding of browsers and servers (but there are a few projects that require application of UTF-16 instead, in order to accommodate certain Asian languages).
- You can use basic drop-down menus for language or country selection (after the example of Amazon) to give your customers immediate access to their own language version of the site.
Global gateways — With multiple localized websites, use global gateways to enable visitors direct access to their own language version of your site with just a click. This is ideal for launching your site in a country with multiple regional languages and local dialects.
Staying on brand
An additional highly useful formatting alternative for companies seeking to build global brand recognition, is to use a global page format template. For example, a globally famous clothing designer with numerous localized sales sites, uses the same template for the page layouts throughout the sites, including for landing pages and product description pages. All audiences world-wide see the same sleek design on the websites localized for their markets.
The sites, of course, also leave enough space to accommodate all languages and the particular CTAs that are suitable for each country. The product images are the same across all markets throughout the world, although the language is changed as needed for each internationalized website.
TIP: With any page design template, above all, ensure that every language version of your site is optimized for the dominant search engine algorithm as well as for mobile access. It's estimated that around 5 billion people had become cell phone users by February of 2019. So, clearly, having a fully functioning, mobile version of your site is a fundamental for doing business online today.
Chapter 4: The Website Localization Process
You've executed all your legal agreements and other necessary documentation. You’ve completed your global market research and localization project planning. You've internationalized your website and done all other standard pre-production tasks. Now you're ready to localize your website. Whichever of the four approaches you choose to take for localizing your site, you can expect to follow these basic steps in order to achieve a high-quality website localization.
Translate website text content
This is the central part of the localization process. It involves translating text or vocal content in a way that doesn't just generically convey the original content in a different language. Localization is much more than a technically correct interpretation. It's the achievement of a much broader translation-centered mission.
The dual mission of a professional localization team is:
- to deliver translated content that is imbued with the equivalent nuances of cultural relevance that make the message personally relatable to members of the culture for which the message is translated and
- to deliver translated content that conveys the same subtleties of attitude that makes your brand one that the members of your consumer market recognize as distinctively yours.
It is these soft messaging aspects that make localization necessary in order to present translated content in a way that enables your site visitors to identify with the universal message of your brand.
Benchmarks for accurate and effective localization
Hire translators to translate website content into their native language. That is the way to help ensure the highest possible degree of accuracy in the translation and the most natural quality of the translated material. Plus, having translators who understand the culture and shared history of their audience members. Here are some of the priorities for ensuring the most natural and accurate translation:
- Transcreation — Your translated version needs to convey the same tone and quality and degree of wit, excitement, gravitas, wisdom, emotion, charisma, and other characteristics that your original message communicated. This means you'll need to work with translators who are talented in transcreation techniques that enable them to work with greater freedom to produce a more natural and compelling localized version of your message.
- Accuracy — Today's consumers are global web shoppers who are over-run with endless product options. A critical basic for standing out in the massive crowd of online competitors and increasing sales is to resist the temptation to cut corners on the presentation of your product and brand to your target customers, wherever they are and whatever language they speak. Even minor-seeming translation errors can damage your brand's image in international markets.
- Dialects — Being convincing as fluent and even as native-seeming speakers of a language depends a lot on translators' talent for applying regional and local dialects. Colloquialisms, local slang, regional and national references all need to be understood as tools for translators to employee for ideally native quality of expression in conveying your message.
- Humor — The sense of humor varies between individuals, and in several ways, it varies between cultures. Comments, scenarios, and imagery that is funny in one culture may be perceived as inappropriate by people in another culture. Even some seemingly innocuous symbols and gestures can have very different meanings for people in some areas of the Middle East than for people in Midtown Manhattan, for example. In some countries, things are even more complicated, such as in countries like Spain or South Africa, where cultures differ within the same country, and even within a relatively small radius.
- Translation software — Translation management software provides a whole range of useful tools for optimizing translation work. For all kinds of text translations of site menus, product pages, shopping carts, image captions, fillable forms, error messages and other dialogue boxes, helper bot dialogues, just about everything but perhaps the dreaded in-button text translations. The software also helps organize and track which website translation work has been completed and which remains to be done.
- Localization project management software — There are some excellent choice of industry software that features great tools for localization team collaboration. Your team members can interact, and translators can get critical context to aid in their translations. Project management software can significantly reduce timeframes for completion of website localization projects. It cuts the time and expense of communicating through lengthy email threads or Skype calls.
- Collaboration — Web Developers and translators need to work together efficiently to separate source code into strings for translation. The source content must be separated and stored apart from the code for the translated version, to prevent having to break the strings apart again every time you want to translate website content into another new language.
Writing for translation
General rules for maintaining accuracy and clarity in translated text include keeping sentences as simple as possible while preserving the desired communication style. Simple sentences written using good grammar serve to accomplish several objectives. It maximizes overall quality of translated text, speeds up the localization process, minimizes project costs. Altogether, keeping content simple shortens the time to launch and therefore the time to begin generating revenues through the newly localized website.
Here are some good guidelines for writing for translation:
- Make room for text to fit. In some languages text is takes less space than in other languages.
- Keep sentences as short as possible and minimize use of compound sentences.
- Use only one term for identifying a particular concept, instead of multiple synonyms.
- Avoid using jargon and humor. These usually don't translate with equivalence to the source text.
- Use correct expressions of dates, times, measurements, phone numbers, addresses, currency, etc. in the localized version of the text.
- Use relative pronouns such as “which” and “that.” These can help make reading and understanding easier.
- Use standard word order, spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and avoid invoking creative license.
- Avoid verbs using one or multiple articles, as they make translations more complicated.
- Use active instead of passive voice. It's easier to translate and to understand.
- Avoid strings of nouns. They slow down the reader to decipher the point.
Execute a robust SEO strategy
SEO content is necessary for any business website in any language, not just English. So, you’ll need an SEO strategy for your new foreign-language website versions. To start, provide your translators with a list of keywords and keyword phrases to include. The translators should work to provide translations that are natural and appealing to your localized site users and to whatever search engine they're using.
You can't expect to use the same external links that the original-language version of the site has. Each new localized version of your website also needs to have its own back-links developed within the area in local area for which you've localized the site. So, the content you offer on the localized version of your website needs to be relevant to external sites in the area in ways that encourage back-linking.
Of course, SEO for a localized site doesn't mean simply translating your list of keywords and phrases and generating some new back-links. It also means more than just learning the search terms used in different countries. It means doing the same research and acquisition of keywords, the same monitoring of your own and your competitors' keyword results, and strategizing based on those results. It also means doing the work to satisfy a number of other important SEO ranking requirements.
Website SEO top tips
More than half of websites that have a top Google search ranking are at least three years old. Actually, few sites under a year-old place in the top ten of the rankings. So, if you have an older site that you've optimized using the advice provided in this guide, you have a competitive edge in that regard.
Beyond having a well-established site, here are some of the most important things you should do to increase your domain authority and elevate the SEO ranking for your localized website(s):
- Generate strong quantity and quality of organic backlinks.
- Cultivate activity related to your website on social platforms.
- Post high-quality of relevant information on the key topics your site addresses.
- Ensure mobile-friendly access to your website.
- Optimize your site's blog and webpage content.
- Provide a high-quality of user experience for site visitors.
- Ensure security and accessibility of your website for your customers.
- Make sure the technical substructure of your site is optimized for the search engine.
- Work on your domain URL as necessary to increase its SEO value.
- Fix issues with coding, graphics, etc., to avoid excessive load times causing slow page speed.
The best approach is likely to be working with an in-country marketing consultant or SEO specialist who is a native speaker of the language.
Depending on which country you're localizing for, you may need to optimize your site for additional search engines. Though Google is the predominant search engine in most national markets of the World Wide Web, in some countries, people may use Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex or another search engine more.
Choose the ideal images to complement your localized text
That cliché about a picture saying a thousand words is not an overstatement. When choosing images for your localized website, keep these two priorities in mind. 1) You'll need to adapt the text to the image or the image to the text. 2) The images need to be culturally and legally acceptable in the national, regional, and local area where your localized site will be accessed.
- Think culture — Consider how your prospective buyers will perceive the images on your site. Choose a logo and symbols and icons that do not resemble anything with religious symbolism, animals or any of the multitude of hand symbols that virtually every culture in their unique repertoire of those. Even the biggest multi-nationals change their logos and other basic symbols of their brand, when necessary to lend greater local appeal to their products in foreign markets.
- Make regional adaptations to fit the environment — Modify your imagery as necessary to make sense in the geographic and climatic environment where your target market is located. For example, (depending on your product) maybe instead of using an active summer lifestyle photo of a family water-skiing that you're displaying in your original site catering to your Florida market, consider changing to a photo of a family snow-skiing, for your Swedish market in winter.
- Use manageable image files — Whether you're using graphic images or photos, be sure to use scalable vector graphics (SVG), vs. embedding graphics in text. That will allow your programmers and translators to work with captions more conveniently to interpret them from images on your original website. SVGs are also conducive to SEO and they're recognizable to Google and other search engines.
- Be aware of meanings of colors and objects — Even benign-seeming aspects and elements of the images for a localized website can make powerful impressions. Different colors and objects convey different meanings in different cultures. For example, a refreshing blue sky may say summer in the US, but it's associated with mourning in parts of the Middle East.
Optimize site speed
A website that takes too long to load is frustrating to internet users and risks having them click away to move on to sites that are more responsive. Internet service providers maintain different standards from one country to another. For example, what users may think of as good internet speed in a southern European country may be considered too slow or average in one of the more northern countries. Just make sure the speed of your localized website is normal for the foreign market area you're targeting.
- Reduce graphics files — For regions with relatively slow internet service, avoid using large graphics files and other image files that take longer to load when visitors click to access your website. Simplify all the elements of your site that are possible to reduce in file size. Make it a priority to design the site to be light on files so that it will load quickly and help minimize serious losses due to poor bounce rates.
- Relocate videos — Video is a monster space consumer on websites. They're exceptional marketing tools, however. So, in slow internet regions, consider sharing your video productions on your social platforms. Maybe put them on YouTube, and just to them externally from your website.
Choosing URL structure
The domain name you choose can make a difference in your search engine rankings. Google has tended toward leniency in penalizing domains in which the URL is an exact match with the target keyword. They've been known to apply that kind of ranking penalty more to sites that have thin content and that are engaging in spamming activity.
In fact, when other SEO factors for a website align well, domains with that kind of exact match can be ranked as highly relevant, high-quality sites of excellent value to users, and can realize an elevation in search engine ranking due to the matching. Still, if your website is already well established, you're not advised to start looking to make an exact match. Just prioritize having a URL that represents your business well, then optimize it.
Domain authority rules among the factors for search engine ranking. Ascending to a position of domain authority is a matter of combining excellent content and external SEO signals that your site is one that contains among the richest quantity and quality of information relevant to the user's search words.
Strong external SEO signals include organic back-links between your site and other sites highly ranked by the search engine. It also involves the existence of a relatively high number of social shares regarding your site, among other external indicators that the search engine examines.
Chapter 5: Test Before Launching Your Localized Website
The old cliché about first impressions was undoubtedly made for just this occasion. Once you've frustrated and disappointed a visitor to your website with an experience riddled with incoherent messaging and unusable page elements, they're just not coming back.
So, think of the initial outcome of your localization project as an exceptionally well-executed draft. Prioritize conducting thorough testing of outcomes in the linguist work performed by your localization team and in the technical functionality of your newly localized website. Proper testing is the only realistic way to ensure your project's fully polished and professional final results. Your localization testing should include work to detect and correct issues such as the following:
- Incorrect names, addresses, dates, measurements, etc.
- Untranslated strings remaining
- Outdated information about upgrades
- Improperly functioning entry fields
- Broken strings
- Inappropriate images
- Poor quality translation
- Spelling errors, punctuation errors,
- Mistakes in word usage or grammar
- Violations of cultural norms
- Offensive text, image or symbol
- Misuse or awkward use of keywords
- Poor readability
- Lackluster message, low appeal
- Excessive load time
- Inactive hyperlinks
- Poor functionality in forms
- Non-intuitive Shopping Cart setup
- Issues with encryption algorithms
- Problems due to software or hardware incompatibility
Performing A/B testing is strongly recommended, because it enables you to understand users' reactions to different ways of presenting your content and changes in their behaviors as they utilize the alternatives.
Often, even very minor adjustments can increase a site's conversion rate and profits. So, it's important to experiment with any functions or other elements that may have room for meaningful improvement.
Chapter 6: Website Translation Technology
Leading website localization service providers use the industry's most sophisticated technologies for translation, testing processes, and project management. Here are some of the most well-recognized technologies used by top LSPs in today's complex localization processes.
Best multilingual Content Management Systems (CMS)
Partially-automated translation technology enables integrated processes that enable website localizers good alternatives for various steps of text translation, without negatively impacting quality. For example, process management platforms, software for automated text translation, programs for QA spot-test and even full-scope QA testing.
Among the most reliable CMS technologies for professional localization companies are Drupal, WordPress and Kentico.
Translation Management Systems (TMS)
Translation Management Systems (TMS) are designed to replace certain previously manually executed localization steps. For example, tasks such as converting, exporting, and transferring files to be translated, reverse conversions, automatic modification recording into the version control platform, among other tasks can now be just as accurately, and more efficiently managed through TMS functionality.
Among the most reliable TMS technologies for professional localization companies are WordBee, memoQ, XTRF and XTM. Your LSP can be expected to have the full range of state-of-the-art digital tools for optimal quality of localization processes and project outcomes.
Neural Machine Translation (NMT)
Machine translation (MT) is an indispensable tool in today's website localization industry, particularly in content driven industries such as eCommerce where product range, time to market and ROI are top priorities. NMT functions through an artificial neural network. The technology is helpful in anticipating word sequences, in order to generate models for producing sentence translations. NMT is becoming increasingly used in exceptionally complex localization projects. It is often paired with Machine translation post-editing (MTPE), a human editing process that brings the automated translation output to the quality level of a human translation, but at the fraction of the price and turnaround of a dedicated human translation. MTPE also enables translation engine re-training to advance the quality of the engine and future project output.
Currently, this sophisticated technology is used only by LSPs with advanced facilities. Despite lofty predictions by some organizations, the technology is still being further developed, and it isn't known how much the level of performance will be increased for its future users in the localization industry.
WordPress translation plugins
WordPress plugins are fundamentals for creating good websites using WordPress, one of the web's most popular CMS platforms. So, we'll just include a note about them here along with other essential technologies involved in website programming. WordPress plugin's such as WPML are coded in a way that allows any developer to add their coding into it. The plugins are available for creating all sorts of websites, from online stores to podcasts, and a big array of options in between.
With each new visit, WordPress makes a connection to a database and loads the software as well as your active plugins. The resulting code is then processed via your server and ultimately transmitted to the user's browser.
Chapter 7: Top Tips for Website Localization
Surveying the vast number of considerations and tasks involved in localizing a website, you find yourself embarking on new territory across a quite large body of knowledge. It becomes immediately apparent that your project must involve high technology, professional linguistics, advanced studies in a foreign culture, and meticulous process management and rigorous quality testing.
It won't do to try to crystalize all that's important into a quick localization project hits list. But here are a few things that are often overlooked that you should be mindful of going into your localization project.
Start localization preparations will in advance of the time you want to launch
It can't really be emphasized enough that it's important to give yourself plenty of time to complete all the necessary preliminary work in order to ensure that the localization process can start and finish in time for you to meet your desired date for roll out of your newly localized version of the site. Begin gathering information, identify the LSP you want to work with, and get your pre-production work done, including your legal documentation and budget. These set up the framework for your project.
Make sure you understand the foreign market you're targeting
Before you proceed with plans for localization, study the data that indicates the strength or weakness of a business case for entering the foreign market you're looking to enter. Understand how well it's reasonable to expect your business to perform financially over the short-, medium-, and long-term there, and why. Examine the region's economic performance data, the consumer market data, any relevant product performance data, etc. Track the local and broader regional economic projections and performance trajectory over past accounting periods, to help you strategize for your business's growth in that market.
Work with an experienced localization team with a strong track record
The website localization service provider you choose will manage project staffing, including hiring translators who can deliver the level of quality you need. Your LSP will be responsible for expert culturalization of your site, and for bringing the most skilled tech experts and best technology to the project of localizing your site. The work your LSP will do is integral to the success of your business in the international market in which you've decided to launch your localized site. So, make sure you validate their reputation for consistently top-quality results.
Adhere to best practices for website localization
Follow localization industry best practices for website internationalization, translation, culturalization, SEO, and for any in-house quality testing, third-party testing, and in-country reviews. This includes the practice of beta testing your localized website in its final pre-rollout condition with sampling by your target audience. You've elected to take the calculated risk of entering a foreign market. Now, the priority is, of course, to ensure that all steps for a thorough risk assessment and for appropriate risk mitigation are taken as you look to move forward.
Doing the legal and other preparatory work for localization, internationalizing your website, performing the localization process, and testing might all together seem like an overwhelming amount of work. The number of detailed tasks in each phase of project preparation and execution can be daunting to website owners facing the challenge of localization for an international market. But, when all parts of the project are managed properly to achieve a top-quality result, the undertaking ultimately pays off very well.
Ultimately, you are most well advised to design your website the way you think it will most appeal to the kind of needs and tastes that you know that your target market can be expected to share universally with all other segments of your product's global market, in all languages.
If there can be just one takeaway message it would be to keep in mind that the benefit of localization is to make the kinds of modifications to your original website content that will afford your multicultural users the same experience as your customers and prospects receive when visiting your original-language source site. That is the experience that has well proven to support your revenue goals, and so it is the element of the formula for your international version that can be expected to facilitate your success in your new international target market, if your foreign market site is well localized.
Of course, ideally comprehensible localized content is the primary directive of website localization. But, maintain brand character is essential too. Collaborate closely with your LSP, to ensure that the team has all they need in reference materials and resources to achieve these dual purposes for your business.
Though you'll do all you can to set up the localization team for success in achieving the highest possible quality in your project, keep expectations realistic. Because mistakes are a fact of life, even for the most diligent and capable of expert teams, by all means — QA spot test, QA test full-scope, and test again in-country.
In this eBook, our goal has been to provide you with the kind of general introduction that will prepare you to ask the right questions in order to determine your best available options for localizing your website.
For more information about preparing to localize your site, internationalization, localization processes, including culturalization, best practices, translation, technologies for LSPs, QA testing, or related questions, just call us at Andovar anytime at any of our offices around the globe. We're happy to answer your questions and help ensure that you fully achieve your goals for your international website.
We are a niche localization agency, specializing in media localization. With our headquarters located in Singapore, we have offices situated worldwide. Our experts around the globe help enterprise companies localize their marketing, training, communications and eCommerce, to deliver ideally localized content to their international users.
Andovar provides customized solutions for localization in even the most complex projects. Our turnkey localization services include localization engineering, voice localization (including voice-over dubbing and/or subtitling), text localization, integration and a complete range of testing options. We serve clients across numerous industries, including TV and Entertainment, Video Games, Mobile Apps, eLearning, IT, and Travel, among others.
If you are interested in localizing your website or if you have any questions about the process, please feel free to get in touch with us here at Andovar. We are more than happy to help you determine if website localization is right for you.