Maximise your ROI with Website Localisation
Reaching and communicating with multilingual customers via a localised website is vital if a company wants to invite trade or business on an international level. The ability to communicate your brand message, service and USPs online in the mother tongue of the target audience is essential to a company’s success.
Language vs Content
As translation agency Global Voices points out, when it comes to localising websites it’s key to ensure that the language you use accurately communicates the key message you want your clients to take away. Don’t assume that rendering the original page content in word-for-word translation is enough—you also need to ensure that the content is relevant, understandable and in line with the user’s cultural context.
Professional translators can help account for cultural language variants, examples of which include Spanish (Latin America versus Spain), French (France versus Senegal) or Portuguese (Brazil versus Portugal). These cultures can use different words and phrases to describe the same things, so it’s important to make sure you understand the difference between them.
The same theory goes for keywords. If you’re optimising your site to reach your target audience, your leading phrases and keywords should be researched in context. Language experts or native speakers don’t just bring linguistic insights to the company, they also bring invaluable cultural knowledge, which enables you to tailor your strategies for different markets and maximise campaign performance.
But those are just the most obvious facets of localization: the complete package also includes adaptations of music, photos and even colours. You might not realise, for example, that the colour green can symbolise death in some South American cultures. Make sure you research your local market thoroughly to create a website that is relevant to them.
What about the back end?
Localisation doesn’t mean you need to build an entirely new website for each language—it’s your content that matters most. But there are some considerations to make ‘back of house’.
Firstly, you’ll need a Content Management System that can handle localisation and globalisation of multiple target-language websites. If you use Squarespace, the necessary code injection can be found here, or speak to your developer about how to display the default language in a locale, structure relevant content by location as well as language and remove any hard coding of calendars, dates and currencies.
It’s also important to ensure you display first and last names (eg Chinese) and punctuation (eg Spanish) in a culturally-sensitive way, and choose the right encoding for special characters (such as UTF-8, UTF-16, etc.). If you’re translating your site to Arabic for example, you’ll also need to figure out how best to display content in a right-to-left layout.
How do you handle multilingual SEO and social media for translated pages?
When you’re deciding where to host your site, there is the option of using a subdomain (spanish.companyname.com), a subdirectory or folder (companyname.com/spanish) or a top-level domain (companyname.sp). Small to medium business tend to be better off with subdirectories or folders for ease of site maintenance, but only you know what will work best for you.
Show search engines which languages you’re set up to handle using hreflang or language meta tags—code that indicates which language(s) your content is available in. Other ways to show search engines that your site is local to a specific country include hosting your site on a local IP, linking to local content and building links from local resources and exploring local search engines like Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China, which can use different metrics for assessing site quality.
With the growth of social media, engaging with and marketing to international customers’ needs can easily be adapted for different cultural audiences and locales. While it is the most popular social media site in the world, Facebook has only 55% global penetration, so make sure you choose the right social media platforms to speak to your target audience.
In the global marketplace, it’s no longer just your service or experience that sets your business apart. It is your ability to connect with customers in the language they use as if you were a local company. If you’re looking to go global, website localisation is essential for your growth.
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