10 Tips for Website Localization
November 21, 2011
GPI has written many blogs about website localization in the past. This blog focuses on the top 10 tips for ensuring that you and your language translation services agency achieve success with your website localization project.
For quick review, let's start with a few basic definitions and ingredients that are essential to any such project. A major step in website localization is to provide what is known as a "localization kit" thereby making sure that you, the client, can provide your partner, the translation agency, with the essential files to do a good job.
Website Localization (L10N)
Localization (L10N) involves translating and localizing your website content and layout into different languages to target specific markets ensuring all content (text and graphics) is translated in an accurate and culturally correct manner. Website localization involves website translation that is appropriate to the specific locale of your target audience.
Website Localization Kit
You will be asked to provide your translation company with a complete set of source files, also known as a "Localization Kit."
Website localization kit should include:
- Your website URL
- Your website source files and access to your web content management and data base.
- Summary of the website architecture
These files are analyzed for:
- Number of words to be translated
- Source and target languages
- Localization Subject matter
- Graphic localization requirements
- Client workflow requirements
A comprehensive quotation packet is generated, including all tasks, costs and timelines required to complete the project. Clients are given the opportunity to review and approve every quote.
Top 10 tips for website localization:
1. Local market research
An important step is identifying the specific locale where your potential customers are located. Then, market research must be conducted in that locale to confirm your business opportunities and need for a localized website are valid. Consumer habits may vary widely within regions that have shared languages. Thus, local market research is essential.
2. Local Glossary Development
Glossaries are developed to ensure accuracy and consistency in the translation/localization process. You will want your translation team to not only leverage the latest industry-specific dictionaries, but to also ensure that the glossary is locale-specific as well.
3. SEO Localization Plan
Early planning for website search engine optimization (SEO) is a key step in the website localization process. A lot of companies usually localize their website and later on they start to think about SEO and PPC campaigns. This sometimes requires more effort and is less effective than including your SEO localization in the website localization process.
Some of the most efficient tactics to use in your Multilingual SEO plan include:
- Local domain name:A local domain name (.ae, .au, .se, .br, .ar, .ru, etc) is very effective for local search engine results more than global domains.
- Keywords Localization:Create your initial keywords list which will help you optimize your content and Meta tags with the most effective keywords for the local markets.
- Local Landing Pages:Landing pages are the most visited pages on your website. While you are creating your localized website you should focus on the content that pertains to your target the local market. This will require more research on your provided content. For example, if you provide services based on location, you will need to focus your SEO efforts on the local services pages and packages. This will vary from a country to another.
4. Cultural Correctness Assessment and copywriting
Before the actual translation begins, the source web content, website design and feature set are reviewed for basic cultural correctness and customizations that may be required. To achieve maximum success in targeted local markets you need to fully grasp the locale-specific cultural values.
5. CMS language support
A common oversight in website localization is for clients to check to make sure their content management system has the required language support. This is not a feature to be taken for granted. For more complete information on this topic, consult our previous blog, Website Localization and CMS.
6. Using Unicode and UTF-8
Make sure that your website will be able to display any language. The Unicode Standard is the universal character encoding standard for written characters and text. It defines a consistent way of encoding multilingual text. UTF-8 has been designed for ease of use with existing ASCII-based systems and it is usually the default encoding that you should be using on any webpage. Setting up the right encoding will ensure that your website's contents will be correctly displayed. Most Content Management Systems (CMS) already handle all content as UTF-8 encoded text.
7. Website Graphic and UI Localization
If possible, use a highly flexible or "fluid" design that allows pages to scale based on dynamic content. If we take an English word as a base, the same word in Russian could be up to 60% longer, while in many Asian languages, the same word could be less than a half the source language width. Based on the complexity of Asian languages, you may need to scale fonts by about a 120% so they are legible. So, as a rule of thumb, you should avoid using fixed-sized containers with text in them. Space should be allowed to expand or contract in accordance with the text character count.
A related issue is that icons, containers and website layout should be culturally acceptable to the intended customer locale. Find more information on this topic in our previous blog, Culturally Customized Website Translation.
8. Location and Language selector
Visitors to your website need to be able to swiftly indicate their location and language. Special icons in website design should indicate these choices. A variety of layouts and formats are available. Previous research in your project discovery phase should indicate which type of language indicator (e.g. names, icons) will be most appropriate.
9. Test your website locally
A competent language translation services agency will test your website in the actual locale for which your website is intended. It is critical to ensure that your website design, as well as localization, suits the preferences and sensibilities of your primary global audience.
10.Local Social Media Optimization (SMO)
The last step we recommend is to optimize your website with the local social media. You will always need to add the social media share buttons that are commonly used in your intended local market in order to guarantee traffic from the local social networks. Some countries have specific social networks like China, Japan, and it's highly important to make your localized website optimized for those networks to help users to spread your message, content and offers via their profiles and online activities.
Further website translation and website localization resources
Globalization Partners International has created a more extensive overview of website globalization for several global markets in a series of Website Globalization and E-Business Series white papers, which you may download for free. You may also benefit by reviewing the following blogs on different aspects of website translation and website localization:
- Website Internationalization and Accessibility
- Website Translation, Localization and Internationalization
- Localization Company (Quick Facts)
Globalization Partners International helps customers enter new markets by providing comprehensive website translation services into a variety of languages. Free translation quotes can also be obtained from GPI by submitting source files through our Request a Translation Quote.
You may contact GPI at email@example.com or at 866-272-5874 with your specific questions about your target global markets and your project goals.
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Farah Fathy - Global SEO Specialist
Farah is a native Arabic speaker born and residing in Cairo, Egypt. She received her degree in Commerce and English from Ain-Shams University studying marketing, management, economics and accounting. Her experience includes working in various specialties in global digital marketing with specific training in Link Building, Website Traffic Analysis, On-page Optimization and Off-page Optimization as well as standard Social Media Marketing. She is skilled in a variety of tools including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Light Room and SEO tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SeoMoz, Opensite Explorer, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. She enjoys playing sports such as swimming and basketball and loves to read in her spare time.