Many people primarily focus on translation of text when they think about website translation and localization. While that is a major aspect of the process and kicks off our list of seven tips, there are several other vital components that ensure the international success of a website. Do you know if your website has all of these features? Without these seven tips, you may be missing out on global marketing opportunities.
Tip #1: Translated Text
Translating the text of a website is the most labor-intensive part of website localization (learn about the difference between the terms "website translation" and "website localization"), but it is also the most important one. The words on a website provide the most direct mode of communication with visitors to the site; they are the best way to connect with potential customers. On a basic level, the language of the website has to be the language its visitors speak. On a more advanced level, a good translation will use colloquial language that visitors will understand and identify with.
Tip #2: CMS Support for the Target Language
In a few cases, a website's content management system (CMS) does not support the target language (the language you are translating into). This is not common, but it is a technical issue that sometimes must be overcome. If support for the target language is not built into a CMS, a workaround will need to be developed. A workaround is almost always available, so actually switching CMS platforms is rarely required.
Tip #3: Culturally Relevant Pictures
As the visual content on websites increase, its cultural relevance is becoming more and more important. To maintain a professional image, companies must at least review their website's images for offensive content. What is acceptable in the United States may not be in another market. The use of culturally relevant images extends beyond simply avoiding offensive ones, though.
Images present a secondary means of connecting with a site's audience. Images that relate to a target audience's culture give the audience confidence in a site. Pictures from their country and area will go a long way with a target audience, especially if the people in the photographs look similar to the visitors. Just as English text needs to be translated when localizing a site, pictures of Anglos should be adapted to depict the people the localized site is targeting.
Tip #4: Proper Symbols
Different countries display dates, times, currencies and other things using symbols differently. This is even true in English-speaking countries. The United States and Australia both have English as their official language, but they write out dates differently. In the U.S., the format followed is month, date, year (e.g., Jan. 1, 2014); the accepted format in Australia is date, month, year (e.g., 1 Jan. 2014). Adapting formatting for these items is easy when they are not hard-coded into a website but formatted using macros.
Tip #5: Local Language Selection
A localized website is part of a greater entity, and it should let interested visitors know that. Somewhere on every localized site, there should be an option to see the company's main site, despite it being in a different language. Some visitors will be familiar with English and want to see your company's entire site. There should be a link to view the source site, whether in English or another language, for those who are interested.
Tip #6: Local Social Media
Social media is, first and foremost, social. Therefore, it differs from culture to culture. In the U.S., Facebook dominates social media, and other outlets, such as Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn, are also commonly used. In other countries, other social media outlets will dominate the scene. Localizing social media for a targeted website will create a natural way for people to share the site with their family and friends. Depending on the nature of the localized site, this may simply involve putting different sharing icons on the site, or it could require creating pages and campaigns directly on the various social media platforms.
Tip #7: Local SEO
Without an SEO campaign, few websites reach their full potential. If it is worth investing in a localized website to reach a target audience, then it is also worth promoting that website through multilingual SEO. Each localized website should have its own SEO campaign. This will help rank the site in search engine results pages (SERPS), while also helping search engines identify the site's target audience. These SEO efforts may need to be tailored to a search engine other than Google, if the target audience primarily uses a different search engine.
Take a moment to review your company's translated and localized websites. Do they have each of these seven items? If not, these are simple changes that can be made to increase the success of your global marketing efforts.
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