Your how-to guide to website localization

Tailoring your digital presence to a new market and a new local audience might not be an easy task. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t absolutely essential for the future of your business. If you want to solidify your position in a marketplace that already has its established businesses that the local people know and trust, then you need to optimize your entire brand and all of your website elements to appeal to your target demographic both culturally and linguistically. You need website localization.

After all, there’s not much you can achieve by simply translating a website. You also have to incorporate the key cultural elements that will make your website truly belong in the new market.

If you fail to do all of that, you’ll lose a lot of money trying to outperform your competitors. In addition, you also be pushed out of the market because your messages and brand don’t resonate with the locals.

Your guide to website localization

With all of that in mind, here’s your guide to website localization that will help you set the stage for success abroad.

Start with diligent research

Every good business decision should be based on diligent and meticulous research, and your localization strategy should have the same foundation.

Your goal should be to accumulate as much knowledge about your target demographic as possible, convert all of that data into actionable reports, and hopefully create a comprehensive localization strategy that will minimize risk, leave nothing to chance, and allow you to deliver a unique yet familiar brand experience to your new audience.

Ultimately, this strategy needs to make your brand impactful and memorable in a saturated market.

The key focus areas include linguistic research, cultural research and social references, as well as visual and written idiosyncrasies of the market that create a positive reaction to a brand and its messages.

You can start with online research as well as competitive research, but ultimately you will want to engage with native professionals who live and breathe the local culture, and understand the local business world.

Tailor your website’s aesthetics

Colors, symbols, and visual elements in general bear different meanings in different cultures. While some of your brand’s visuals might bear a positive connotation in your local market, they might convey a completely different story abroad. You have to be careful when trying to market your website’s visuals to a foreign audience.

In the worst-case scenario, you will downright offend members of your target demographic. At the very least your visuals will confuse them – which is why localization is not just about translating your website’s copy.

It is true that your website’s colors and visuals should be linked to your brand’s identity and its core values. You should be ready and willing to make some compromises, for clarity’s sake and to avoid the aforementioned risks. Choose your colors carefully, because the symbolism behind them can change between continents.

Translate and optimize your site for the local audience

Now that you have done your research and that your visual identity has been optimized to appeal to the local consumers, it’s time to start translating your website in its entirety. You can choose to create an entirely new website with its localized domain name. Or you can develop a translated version within the existing domain. It will come down to your search engine optimization (SEO) and branding goals.

For the time being, though, you should focus on overcoming the challenge of language complexity. It is important to understand the unique idioms and dialects that shape the local culture.

Take China as a prime example of a growing market where most companies choose to expand their business.

Business leaders expanding from an English-speaking market must rely on professional Chinese translation services that not only translate the text into a local dialect, but also emphasize transcreation as an act of completely tailoring the copy to fit into the local culture and the local way of life.

If you don’t employ native professionals to work on such a project, you run the very real risk of offending the local audience and portraying your brand in the wrong way.

Invest in search engine optimization

There are many things you should consider when relocating a business, such as location and staffing. When you’re trying to improve brand visibility in a new marketplace, you should also consider the challenges of digital marketing.

Namely, your goal should be to elevate your standing in the local search engine results pages (SERPs), and boost brand visibility in the local search engines.

Be sure to incorporate local keywords into every page of your website and your content. Acquire a local domain if need be. Don’t forget to list your business information on all relevant local platforms. This will show the local search engines that you are running a legitimate operation. 

Test your website and make adjustments

Before you launch your website, you want to conduct a final test. Make sure that the site is responsive and that all of the pages load quickly with all of their elements.

Don’t forget to make your website mobile-friendly to appeal to the mobile audience. Be sure to have your translators, researchers, and business consultants analyze your website in its entirety one more time. This will allow you to stay agile and make the necessary adjustments on a moment’s notice.

The importance of website localization

Website localization is not just about translating the text. It’s about tailoring the entire user experience to fit into the local way of life, and the local culture. Be sure to use this guide to localize your site the right way. Minimize your risks. Enter the new market successfully. 

This guest blog post was written by Elaine Bennett who is a digital marketing specialist focused on helping startups and small businesses grow. Elaine is a regular contributor for Bizzmark Blog and writes hands-on articles about business and marketing, as it allows her to reach even more entrepreneurs and help them on their business journey.