Web Localization is a term widely used around the web as the process of adaptation of a website to local language and culture, this however is not a simple translation option; when designing a website, the programmer has a set of goals and targets that he/she wishes to attack, when it comes to web localization it is no exception. This process involves language translations, intuitive interfaces and even applies some psychological principles and techniques to aid the user in finding what they are looking for, this reduces the amount of cognitive efforts a user must put into navigating the page and therefore, increases their accessibility towards the page itself.
Web localization is a thorough and delicate process that is best done by experts in the area. In order to provide a polished product, web localization must follow a set of steps which will be explained. Keep in mind that these steps are not necessarily fixed but they are always present in any web localization project.
1. Analyze your target market
Before the localization process can begin, there are several questions you should consider, such as:
- What geographic markets are you targeting?
- Who is your target customer?
- What languages do they speak?
- What are the consumer habits in the regions you are targeting?
- What market opportunities exist for your company’s product or solution?
Identifying and understanding the characteristics and needs of market segments will help connect with potential customers.
2. Keyword and SEO planning
A lot of companies tend to leave multilingual SEO campaigns until after they have localized their website, which often requires more effort and is less effective than devising the SEO localization plan up-front. For each Identified market, there must be a list of relevant keywords. This must be done by a native speaker with knowledge of SEO, who understands the target market and their search habits, as more often than not, a direct translation of a key word from one language to another might be the best keyword to use for determined situations.
Also, a local domain name is required depending on the country, these can also prove to be very effective for local search engine results.
3. Site structure
If the site is designed to be in an international market for specific countries, then the site should be structured first by location and then by language. But if the target market is of a particular language without taking into consideration the location, then a simple language translation feature should serve as the sites architecture.
4. Choose the content
The content that gets published for an international audience should be directed by the results of an early planning stage, meaning, market analysis and keyword research. Much of the content will be similar to that which is provided for any English-language visitor. However, a few new content pages will most likely be required based upon specific market needs.
It is essential to ensure that all content selected for translation is culturally correct, as maximum success will be achieved in the target markets if the site grasps the locale-specific cultural values.
5. Localize the content and design in parallel
In addition to language translations, the cultural effect on web design is also to be taken into consideration. The web designs must be scalable dynamically, what does this mean? Simple, for every region there’s a set of non-written rules as to what culture, like in a website, for example, in Russian language sites, content is typically 60% longer than English based sites and this may vary even more from culture to culture.
Aside from that, designs should be responsive since not only computer users visit these sites, mobiles, and other devices can access these pages and so, the site itself needs to be able to work properly on all manner of devices, from desktop computers to the smallest of smartphones, this is directly associated to the Content Management System (CMS). Also, when it comes to design, not only text expansion should be a priority, visuals are a massive factor in websites since cultures tend to associate colors with feelings and emotions, and that could provoke the visitor’s anger or be found offensive to them if the target market is not analyzed correctly.
6. Optimize the content
While a basic SEO plan should have been made at the beginning of the process, now is the time to optimize the website for country-specific search engine results. It is advisable to use the services of an experienced SEO professional in each country to gain an added advantage of insider knowledge.
Web localization is one of the most important tools at the disposal of any internet-based marketing company. Localizing websites appropriately is a must since it provides a wider market of opportunity for services and products a company may supply. With proper web localization any given company can improve their sales rating; catering to local clients is the best way to improve customer relationships, even if your clients are local this shows them that the company cares about their language particularities and traditions.
Web localization also reduces risks. Localized products, websites or apps, save you from potential embarrassment. If you localize well, you’re making sure your translated brand or company doesn’t mean something else in the target’s country language. There could also be colors, as mentioned before, that may or may not provoke negative reactions on visitors. Even the best marketing campaigns are nothing without proper web localization. Even the best and perfectly designed piece of advertisement would fail if your target market doesn’t speak the language. Some brands aren’t able to reach their full potential, simply because of a lack of localization.
In the long run, a proper web localization would ensure that the product remains longer in the market and doesn’t lose popularity against others. Having a website properly localized will make customers always want to come back to it, translating directly into more sales. According to some research’s, it’s easier and more profitable to keep customers than making new ones. Every enterprise with its eyes in the future should learn and apply web localization to improve their market presence.