A Guide to Website Localization | TranslateSwift

Conquering the Global Market: A Guide to Website Localization

Published:   |  Updated:   |  Posted in: Website
Conquering the Global Market: A Guide to Website Localization

When entering an international market, the first thing that should be discussed in boardroom meetings is website localization. Why is that? According to Statista, there are over 5 billion users surfing the web, but less than 26% understand English. At the same time, the vast majority – nearly 64% – of websites use English as their main language. You’ve built a fantastic product, poured your heart and soul into marketing, and finally reached a global audience. But a whopping 74% of them can’t understand your website! That’s a recipe for lost sales and missed opportunities. 

There’s a solution that bridges this language gap and unlocks international markets: website localization. It’s more than just translation – it’s about adapting your website to resonate with the cultural nuances of your target audience. Think currency conversion, swapping out idioms for locally understood references, and even adjusting website colors to avoid unintentional cultural faux pas. By making your website speak the language (and understand the cultural cues) of your target market, you’ll make it understandable, attractive, and trustworthy for your potential customers. So, what’s the secret formula when it comes to website internationalization? Let’s find out! 

Website Localization – A Deep Dive 

Website localization (L10n) is your bridge across the language gap between your website content and your potential customers. While translation simply swaps words from one language to another, L10n goes a step further. 

Let’s take a “Free Shipping” banner on your website as an example. A straight translation might render it as “Envío Gratis” in Spanish. While technically correct, it might not resonate with your audience. Localization goes deeper. In some Spanish-speaking regions, “Envío sin costo” might be a more natural and impactful way to phrase the offer. L10n makes sure that your message lands effectively, not just grammatically, but also culturally.

L10n considers the technical aspects of different regions as well. For instance, the way dates and currencies are formatted can vary greatly. A localized website would display these elements in a way that’s familiar and comfortable for your target audience. If an American website shows prices in USD with a decimal point separating dollars from cents. A localized version for a European market might use Euros (€) with a comma as a separator.

L10n also places a high value on user experience. Think of a website designed for a left-to-right reading language like English. Translating it directly might not work for languages like Arabic, which are read from right to left. A localized website would adjust the layout to guarantee a smooth and intuitive experience for users in that region. 

German text on pieces of paper

Here are some reasons why website localization is the key to conquering new foreign markets. 

Increased Sales & Conversion Rates

A localized website speaks the language of your target audience, literally and figuratively. This fosters trust and makes customers feel valued. When everything on your website is clear and culturally relevant, navigating the purchase journey becomes effortless. Localized content ensures product descriptions, terms, and conditions are easily understood, eliminating confusion and leading to more conversions.

Language barriers can be a major source of friction during the buying process. In the Can’t Read, Won’t Buy – B2C report, 40% of interviewed customers would prefer not to purchase a product or service if it is not offered in their language. L10n removes this friction, allowing customers to confidently navigate your website and complete transactions. 

Reaching a Global Audience

By translating website content to different languages and cultural contexts, you open doors to previously inaccessible markets. Imagine a groundbreaking product with the potential to improve lives in China. Without a localized website, a huge chunk of your target audience wouldn’t even be aware of your offering. L10n changes that.

People are more likely to buy from websites in their native language. L10n allows you to speak directly to your target audience, increasing brand awareness and driving sales.

A world map with pinned countries 

Improved Brand Image

Website localization benefits go beyond the boosting sales trope, they affect your brand image too. L10n demonstrates that you respect and value the cultures of your target markets. It shows you’re not just out to sell products but are genuinely interested in connecting with people from different backgrounds. 

A well-localized website with culturally appropriate content exudes professionalism and builds trust with international audiences. It shows you’ve invested time and effort in understanding their needs, making your brand more approachable and trustworthy. 

Enhanced SEO Performance

When you localize your website content, you can incorporate relevant keywords in your target languages. This helps your website rank higher in search engine results for those regions, making it easier for potential customers to find you. Optimizing your website for different languages opens the door to a flood of organic traffic from new markets. Google’s research shows a staggering 60% of smartphone users contact businesses directly from search engine results pages.

By optimizing your website for different languages, you open doors to organic traffic from new markets. This means potential customers actively searching for products or services like yours will discover your website without additional marketing efforts. 

Google Search Engine on Macbook Pro

The Website Localization Process 

We’ve established that website localization (L10n) is your secret weapon for conquering new markets. But how exactly do you transform your website into a global powerhouse? Here’s a breakdown of the L10n process, guiding you with best practices for website localization

Planning & Preparation

  1. Target Market Research

Target market research is where you get to know your ideal customer in a specific region. Here’s what to consider:

  • Language: This might seem obvious, but understanding the language variations within your target region is crucial. For example, Spanish spoken in Spain might have different dialects or colloquialisms than Spanish spoken in Mexico.
  • Culture: Cultural adaptation for websites is the trickiest part of localization. What colors are considered positive? What humor resonates well? Researching cultural norms and sensitivities will help you avoid unintentional faux pas on your localized website.
  • Online Behavior: How do people in your target market search for products or services online? What platforms do they frequent? Understanding their online habits allows you to tailor your L10n strategy to reach them where they are.
  • Preferences: What kind of content resonates with your target audience? Are they drawn to detailed product descriptions or concise visuals? Researching user preferences helps ensure your localized website caters to their specific needs.
  1. Not All Pages Are Created Equal

Your website likely has a vast amount of content. But not everything needs immediate translation. Here’s how to prioritize:

  • Identify All Content: Create a comprehensive list of all website content, including text, images, videos, and downloadable resources.
  • Prioritize High-Impact Pages: Focus on the content that directly influences conversions. This includes product descriptions, calls to action, checkout processes, FAQs, and “About Us” pages. These are the first pages users will encounter and need to be crystal clear in the target language.
  • Consider User Journey: Think about the typical user journey on your website. What pages are essential for users to complete a purchase or get the information they need? Prioritize translating these key touchpoints first.

Actionable Tip: Create a content inventory spreadsheet. List each page, its importance level (high, medium, low), and its target translation date. This will help you stay organized and prioritize L10n efforts.

Two IMacs With Keyboard and Phones on Desk

Translation & Localization

  1. Choosing a Localization Partner

While translating your website content might seem like a straightforward task, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Consider partnering with a professional translation service provider or Language Service Provider with expertise in your target markets. Here’s why:

  • In-Depth Market Knowledge: LSPs have a deep understanding of the cultural nuances and linguistic subtleties of your target regions. They can ensure your translations not only sound grammatically correct but also resonate with your audience on a deeper level.
  • Industry-Specific Expertise: Many LSPs specialize in specific industries. Partnering with one that understands the terminology and tone associated with your industry guarantees a more accurate and impactful translation of your website content.
  • Project Management & Quality Assurance: LSPs can handle the entire L10n project, from selecting translators to managing deadlines and ensuring quality assurance. This frees you to focus on your core business while confidently knowing your website localization is in good hands.
  1. Translation Process

Machine translation technology has come a long way, but it’s still not sophisticated enough to capture the cultural nuances and creative thinking required for effective L10n. Here’s why human translators are essential:

  • Understanding Context: A skilled human translator can grasp the context and overall message you’re trying to convey, ensuring the translation is not just literal but also culturally appropriate.
  • Natural Language Flow: Human translators can ensure the translated text reads naturally and sounds like it was written by a native speaker of the target language. Machine translations often result in clunky phrasing that can alienate your audience.
  • Adapting Tone & Style: Different languages have different tones and styles. A human translator can adapt your brand voice and messaging to resonate with your target audience in the local context.
  1. Localization Considerations

Website localization goes beyond simply translating the text on your website. It’s about creating a culturally appropriate experience for your global audience. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  • Currency & Measurement Systems: Display prices and measurements in formats familiar to your target audience. For example, if targeting the UK, show prices in pounds sterling (£) and distances in kilometers (km).
  • Dates & Time Formats: Ensure dates and times are displayed according to local conventions. The US typically uses the month/day/year format, while many European countries use day/month/year.
  • Images & Layouts (cultural appropriateness): Review all images for cultural sensitivity. Avoid using imagery that might be offensive or confusing to your target market. Consider replacing any that don’t align with local cultural norms.
  • Colors & Symbols: Be mindful of color symbolism. Colors can have different meanings in different cultures. 
  • Design Elements (right-to-left languages): If your target language reads from right to left (like Arabic), website layouts may need to be adjusted for optimal user experience. Menus, buttons, and other elements might need to be flipped to ensure a smooth reading experience.
Colorful Flags on Flagpoles

Testing & Launch 

Congratulations! You’ve invested time and effort into translating and adapting your website for new markets. But before celebrating, there are a few crucial steps for a smooth launch and ongoing success. Follow the given checklist to launch your translated website successfully: 

  • Test all clickable features like buttons, dropdown menus, and forms. Ensure they function correctly and display clear instructions in the target language.
  • Rigorously test the entire checkout process, including address input, payment processing, and error messages. Make sure everything is smooth and user-friendly.
  • Test your website across different browsers and devices to ensure consistent functionality and display across all languages.
  • Have native speakers review the translated content for grammatical errors, typos, and awkward phrasing. 
  • Develop a launch plan for each localized version of your website. This might include targeted marketing campaigns, social media promotion, and partnerships with local influencers.
  • Keep an eye on website performance metrics like traffic, conversions, and user behavior across different languages. Address any technical issues that arise and continue to optimize your website for a better user experience.

Wrapping Up 

Remember, L10n is an investment that pays off in spades. It increases sales, fosters trust with international audiences, and positions your brand as a global leader.  So, are you ready to take your business to the world?

If you’re looking for a reliable partner to navigate the L10n process, look no further than TranslateSwift. Their team of experts can help you with everything from target market research and content translation to cultural adaptation and website testing.

Close-up of a Page from a Dictionary

FAQs — Guide to Website Localization 

How much does website localization cost?

The cost of L10n varies depending on several factors, including:

  • The number of languages you want to translate your website into.
  • The complexity of your website content.
  • The experience level of the translators you hire.

Do I need to localize my entire website at once?

No, you don’t necessarily need to localize your entire website right away. You can prioritize key pages with the highest impact on conversions, such as product descriptions, checkout processes, and “About Us” pages.

Can I use machine translation for website localization?

Machine translation technology has improved, but it’s still not ideal for L10n. Machine translations often lack the cultural nuances and natural language flow needed to resonate with a target audience. For a professional and impactful website experience, human translators who understand the target market and industry are recommended.