If you are thinking about expanding your business into new markets, localizing your website should be your top priority. 75% of global customers prefer to make purchases on a website that is in their native language.
However, localizing your website doesn’t only mean translating your web pages into a different language. Localizing is also about adapting other elements, such as visuals, banners, and displayed product content to your target audience.
So, how do you do that? Here are a few steps you should take when localizing your website:
1. Understand your audience
First and foremost, you’ll have to research your target market meticulously. That way, you will get a better understanding of your audience. This step is crucial because consumer behavior varies across countries. In other words, assuming that the people you’re targeting interact and engage with your company in the same way your home audience does, is a mistake.
For example, a more straightforward and even informal style of speaking might work with your existing audience however, to other people, that may seem off-putting and may give them the impression that you’re unprofessional.
Besides allowing you to alter your content to suit your new target customers, taking time to understand how foreign audiences behave will help you figure out whether your products or services fit them or not.
2. Get the translations right
Using translation tools when localizing your website might sound tempting because it’s fast and cheap. However, that might not be the best of ideas because translation tools are not always effective. Often, due to their incapability to fully understand the context, they will distort the original text’s meaning, ultimately leaving consumers confused. That will lower your conversion rates and may ruin your brand’s reputation.
With that said, working with translation agencies or professional freelancers is recommended. Even though it might get a bit pricey, you will make sure that the translations are on point. Not only that, but human translators are also able to adapt the tone and style of writing in a way that is suitable for your target audience.
3. Use the right keywords
When localizing a website, you might also need to make some changes to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. To rank high in the search results, you have to research and use a particular set of words that people are likely to type into search boxes to describe what they’re looking for.
However, doing a word-by-word translation of these keywords will most likely negatively impact the SEO efficiency for the localized site. That’s because the words that you are using in your native language might have a different meaning in another language.
For example, if you’re in the hotel industry, the exact translation of the word “accommodation” can have an entirely different meaning in another language. That’s why you will have to do keyword research for each of the countries you plan to expand to.
As a side note, when expanding to other countries, you should also take into account different search engines. Although Google might be the most popular overall, some countries use other search engines more. For example, China uses Baidu, whereas Russia has Yandex.
4. Your website design has to be on point
As we previously mentioned, localizing a website is not entirely about translating its content. Your website also needs to adapt culturally to the target audience.
Firstly, let’s talk about the layout. Most people read in an F-shaped pattern, meaning that they will scan a website from left to right and focus their attention on the page’s left side. Naturally, to increase conversions, most of the significant elements of a website must be placed on the left.
However, this is not the case for any of the Arabic-speaking countries, where they read from right to left. Consequently, the main elements of a website need to shift towards the right side.
Besides that, visuals will also have to change based on the audience you are targeting, with their culture. In the Arabic version of your website, a photo of a woman in shorts might be considered offensive by the audience, unlike in the American version.
During the design process, you’ll also have to consider colors. Different colors have different meanings in other parts of the world, for example, in Western culture, blue represents trust and security, while in Asia, especially among the countries where Hinduism is dominant, it’s quite the contrary: blue often alludes to immorality. With that said, make sure to study the meaning of colors across different cultures if you’re launching a website overseas.
When localizing your website, it may be a good idea to consult with a design company located within the region you are targeting. For instance, if you are based in Europe and would like to expand to the United States, it may be better to work with a design agency in New York.
5. Test your website
Finally, before launching your website, you’ll need to do two critical tests: localization testing and linguistic testing.
Localization testing focuses on technicalities. It is the process of checking for bugs and other technical issues that might appear during the translation process. In other words, localization testing is about checking loading times, hardware compatibility, hyperlinks, form functionality, etc. You will also have to ensure that the measurement units, date format, and visuals are appropriate for the audience you are targeting.
As the name suggests, linguistic testing is about verifying if the website was translated correctly. Here, you will also have to look for spelling errors, improper use of words, grammatical mistakes, keyword misuse, and the texts’ readability.
By doing these types of tests, you will ensure that your website’s user experience will be optimized both technically and linguistically. Keep in mind that, for the best UX, your localized website needs to be fast and easy to use. That way, you will catch the users’ attention and improve your conversion rate.
If you are thinking about localizing your website, this article has hopefully helped give you a better idea of what it’s about: it’s more than just a translation.
You should take time to understand the audience you are targeting and find out what makes them click. Also, don’t skimp on the translation. Working with an experienced translation service provider like BeTranslated will ensure that your website looks natural in a foreign language. And finally, make sure that your website’s design is culturally adapted to the audience you’re targeting.
When you’re ready to make the leap into the international marketplace, BeTranslated will be there to guide you through your website translation and localization. Among our vast network of skilled translators, we have linguists specialized in website localization working in a wide range of language pairs. For more information or a free, no-obligation quote contact us today.