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May 13, 2020 |

Top 7 Questions about Website Localization Answered 

Website localization helps you position your business in local markets by addressing your customers’ need for valuable information available in their native language. In the digital era, this has become essential for companies seeking global expansion. 

Business owners and CEOs are aware that customers prefer to buy products and services in their native languages. It’s more familiar, faster, and generates greater trust in international products. 

So if you’re looking to expand outside national borders and ensure consistent global growth, you’ll need to start by localizing your website. To give you a better understanding of the scope of such a project, here, we answer seven of the most common questions about website localization. 

1. Why Don’t We Call It Website Translation?

Website translation and website localization are two different things. That’s because translating your content and web copy is only a small part of the localization process. 

Website localization goes beyond rewriting your content in a new language. The purpose is to overcome not only language barriers but also cultural barriers that exist between your brand and your target audience. 

A localization project includes extensive technical changes and a complex process of adapting all your content to a new public. Besides translating texts, you’ll have to review your domain, code, design elements, layout, and other elements that can make your page more appealing to both local internet users and search engines. 

2. When’s the Right Time to Invest in a Multilingual Website?

Finding the right moment to start international expansion isn’t easy. As all companies are different, you can’t rely on a universal model, so, for example, you shouldn’t begin website localization just because a competitor did. Ideally, it should be a data-driven decision.

As a guideline, when you start seeing a significant number of website visitors or subscribers from other countries, it’s time to take globalization seriously. In other words, if you let customers show you the way, you’ll have higher chances of seeing better localization ROI.   

Another factor to consider is your ability to scale, collaborate with international partners, and sustain growth. If you’re not ready to fulfill orders outside your country of origin or don’t have enough resources to handle international customer support, you’ll need to get your business ready before investing in a multilingual website. 

3. What Pages Should I Translate?

You should translate all the pages that you’re planning to make available for your international audience. Half-measures are never a good idea in website localization. If your potential buyers land on a Spanish page, for example, they expect that all the information they read further on will be in the same language. 

Inconsistencies might put customers off, especially if they have difficulties reading foreign languages. A half-translated website can generate confusion and reduce trust, minimizing your chances of conversions. 

Make sure you translate everything that shows people you’re trustworthy, not only a landing page and some product descriptions. Pages like “About Us,” “Contact,” “Pricing,” “FAQ,” and “Resources” are essential to help potential buyers understand what differentiates you from competitors. The more information you make available, the higher your chances of establishing your brand as an authority in the local market and convincing people to buy. 

4. Do I Have to Start With a Minimum Number of Languages?

You can start with as many languages as you want, depending on your business goals and budget. You set the limits of your expansion, after analyzing your chances to sell in each local market. However, you don’t want to embark on a project that can become too large to support, so do the math before contracting language service providers. 

You need to be realistic about your possibilities and your expectations so that you can set attainable goals that are also relevant to your business. In other words, you can start as small as one or two languages if this is all you need to reach customers and generate more business opportunities. You can always localize for more regions in the future when new markets open up for your business. 

5. Can I Start Right Away?

Before you can start website localization, you need to internationalize your site. This is a process in which you prepare your website for the changes required by every language. This essentially means you make it more flexible to ensure that further modifications won’t have any adverse effects on the website architecture or layout. 

Website internationalization focuses on design and development. It consists of technical changes that make localization possible. Once your site is ready, you can start localizing in any language. 

6. Does Website Localization Take Long?

Every website localization project is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all time frame to follow when getting your site ready for global expansion. 

Some of the elements that can influence the project are the size of the website, the amount of content you need to translate, the number of people you work with, the technology you use, and, very importantly, how well you plan every step of the process. 

Remember, localization isn’t only about translating some text from one language to another. You need to adapt your site to a new culture if you want potential buyers to have an excellent user experience. It requires not only language skills, but also time, cultural insights, and technical abilities to create a balanced website that reflects your universal brand voice and speaks like a native at the same time.  

7. Do I Handle SEO Before or After the Translation?

To increase the efficiency of website localization, you should make sure that the process is initiated with SEO in mind from day one. For example, if you do keyword research for every region right from the start, you can hand the terms and phrases to your translators, and they’ll naturally integrate them into your translated content. 

Your localization team can handle website architecture and mark new pages as translations, using specific tags to help search engines find information quickly. 

Linguists can help you boost SEO more than you think. They have the perfect skills to optimize any website for voice search by maintaining a conversational tone in your content. Translators can also handle titles and metadata, and they curate your copy to increase engagement. 

What’s Next?

Now you know what localization is and how it can help you reach a higher number of customers, it’s time to analyze which markets are more suitable for your business and find the right localization partner to revamp your website and make it international. 

Full localization isn’t an easy process, but it’s necessary if you want to compete in a global market. So, the sooner you start planning, the higher your chances of connecting with international buyers and registering excellent ROI.