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Helping Your Localized Website Translate

Mar 27, 2014

Website translation is extremely important for companies who wish to reach foreign markets and expand national trade. Translation can easily be done by copying and pasting your website into a free literal translation service online, but will it accurately explain your company? Beyond the obvious risk of grammatical errors impacting your perceived professionalism, neglecting the importance of cultural cues can be the difference between a website that succeeds and one that just doesn’t translate.

Enter website localization.

Website localization takes the translation process a step further by accounting for the particularities of a given target market. There are professional website translation and interpretation services who understand the importance of these nuances when relating to international customers, and they can do wonders for companies looking to expand globally. However, whether you choose to do it yourself, or you want to better interact with an outsourced provider, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Pick The Right Language:

Research shows that 52.4% of Foreign Market Consumers won’t buy from websites not in their language[1] and 72.1% of international customers spend most of the time on sites in their own language[2]. The good news is that 90% of online business is done in only 13 languages. The bad news is that if you choose the wrong one, you’re chances of penetrating that market are significantly reduced.

Few business people would enter a new country without taking the time to research the potential benefits its market offered. You may look at the hold competitors have, the size of the addressable market, or the amount spent on similar products. But just as important as knowing whether there are people who could potentially buy your product, is knowing how best to sell it to them. The first step in this process is knowing which language that industry speaks. Research the country you’re entering and see what language dominates the sector you’re trying to enter. Many countries are filled with a multitude of spoken languages, but there are generally a select few used in the business world. Knowing these in advance will make sure your efforts to localize aren’t in vain.

Correct Keywords:

Incorporating the correct keywords on your website is critical for SEO and has a major impact on localization success. Keywords are highly determined by the culture and can vary greatly across regions.  For example, most Americans will type in “Vacation” when searching for a resort, but customers in the UK would use “Holiday”. Understanding these differences will help dictate what words should be present in your website’s content.

Keyword research can be a painstaking process, but you’ll have little hope of succeeding without investing in it. If you are going to outsource this type of project, make sure that your provider understands the importance of Keyword research and has the capabilities to properly maximize this critical component.

General Website Layout:

The colors, images, and graphic content can all play a big role in website localization and how it is perceived by that foreign market. Make sure the graphics you use are culturally relevant and that you don’t have any existing materials that may be insensitive or offensive. It’s important to remember that many symbols are used across cultures, but can have drastically different connotations.

Color is another important factor to consider because it can have different meanings or associations. For example, in China white is the color of death and mourning, whereas the same is symbolized by purple in Brazil. Yellow represents sadness in Greece, jealousy in France, but means sacred to the Hindus.

Also, it is important to consider the direction in which your audience reads, depending on their language–whether it be from left to right, right to left, or top to bottom–as this will most likely affect the positioning and layout of your website.

Website translation will be a critical component to your localization efforts, but in order to maximize this opportunity you must consider its full impact. If you hire an interpretation service, make sure they are aware of these issues. If you decide to handle it internally, considering these factors can be the difference between a major victory or a missed opportunity.



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