Localization Basics


Website localization basics and a Jooble case study

Localization Basics

There are 195 countries in the world, and each country has its own unique version of language. Add to that the fact that there are more than 4.5 billion daily internet users and every user would prefer to read the content in their own language. In fact, 72% of users spend time on the websites in their own language and 72.4% are more likely to buy from a website that offers them information in their native language.

So how do you reach the new potential markets and enhance your digital presence in order to please international customers? The answer is website localization.

The intricacies of going global

If you’re new to this, you’re not alone. Many website owners confuse the terms localization and translation. While they might keep localization in mind, all they do is simply translate the website copy which predictably leads to poor results. In order to truly win the hearts of international clients and retain your brand reputation, you need to clearly understand what are localization and translation and how they differ.

Translation is simply translating the copy from one language to another. You have “a red apple” in English and “une pomme rouge” in French. Simple as that.

Localization is far more tricky. It is a process of adapting your product (i.e. a website) to a specific market or audience in accordance with the audience’s culture. Think of design elements as an example. If we compare the Canadian and Japanese Coca-Cola websites, we will see that the design differs drastically. While the Canadian website seems to have a clearer layout and displays the messages about the brand’s value and mission, the Japanese version of the site seems over packed with information and images. But is it wrong? Not at all! The trick is, Asian audience loves to learn as much information as possible about the product before buying it, so Coca-Cola clearly did some quality research before launching the Japanese website.

Now, localization may seem quite a hassle. Not only do you have to translate all the content, but you also need to take care of metrics and dates, images, and even layout. So why would you decide to localize your website? Here are some of the biggest benefits.

Increased credibility and brand reputation. Customers love when a brand takes care of their needs and goes extra mile in an attempt to deliver a superior user experience. Therefore, an international brand that caters to its customers and knows about the different cultural aspects is more likely to win people’s hearts.

If a user goes to a website and sees that it’s available in multiple languages, including their native one, this immediately boosts trust towards this website and encourages the user to explore and browse it. On the opposite, if there is only one language present on the website, it might lead to a high bounce rate. After all, 60% of global customers “rarely or never” buy services or products from English-only websites.

Increased market share and revenue. Website localization means the expansion of your digital presence and therefore, entrance to new markets. And if you enter the new markets prepared, this will inevitably result in increased revenue and bigger market share. A study by Shutterstock confirms that 71% of marketing decision-makers from the US, UK, and Europe increased their sales thanks to the localization.

Competitive advantage. Finally, website localization can serve as a valuable competitive advantage. Think about it: while there may be dozens (if not hundreds) of companies similar to yours, hardly several of them will make an attempt and become truly international. Therefore, if you show that you really care about all your customers, this will become an unbeatable advantage.

The challenges of localization

While localization is indeed a great way to connect with the customers worldwide and significantly boost your reputation, it also has several pitfalls that not many entrepreneurs are aware of. These are the localization challenges that have to be considered in order to avoid major financial and resource losses. These challenges include:

  • Great variety of languages and dialects
  • High costs in terms of coding and translation spendings
  • Various cultural issues to consider
  • Great variety of processes involved in localization

Though they may sound complex, it’s actually not so difficult to resolve them if you use the right tools.

Website localization: A step-by-step checklist

Now that we know what exactly localization is and how it benefits one’s business, we can look at the actual process of localizing your website:

  • Market and competition analysis: at this stage, you will determine the most potential and profitable market to enter.
  • Definition of the project scope: assess the project in order to set the deadlines and requirements for all parties involved in localization.
  • Choice of a third-party services provider (localization company) or assembly of an in-house localization team and assignment of roles.
  • Use of Hreflang tags and Unicode: this helps make the website compatible with multiple languages.
  • Work on design: visual elements of the website should correspond to the particular cultures that you target.
  • Translation of the website content: make sure to pay attention not only to the text but formats as well (such as dates, time, and other metrics).
  • Renewed SEO strategy: different countries have different keywords that rank the highest so you will need to work on that aspect as well. For example, 20% of all Google searches are in local languages, so you want to consider that.
  • Compliance with local rules and regulations: you need to double-check if your website and all its contents correspond to the rules and regulations of the countries that you target.
  • Testing: before launching the website, it is obligatory to test it and see whether it works equally well in different languages.

It is worth mentioning a few localization risks that testing can successfully identify. Probably the most common issue is the lack of space: while some languages require less space, others will demand significantly more. Compare “Hello” and “Bonjour” — these two words have an obvious difference in their length. Other issues include text direction, messages adaptation, notifications, and so on.

Website localization is a complex process and every step takes time and resources. However, there are ways to make localization easier and faster.

Use automation — a lot!

Automation is a great time-saver in terms of localization, so don’t hesitate to use it. If you have a lot of text to translate, you’ll very likely use translation memory and glossaries. A translation memory is a tool that keeps track of the translated copy, stores it, and notifies the translator in case a text similar to the already-translated one is encountered. As for the glossary, it is a compilation of all specific terms that can be met in a text (for example, medical terms) alongside their context. With the help of a glossary, translators can always know what a specific term means and when it should be used.

There are a variety of available computer-aided translation tools that store translation memories, help automate the translation process, and speed things up: SDL Trados, SDL Passolo, OmegaT, Sisulizer, Poedit, MemoQ, and more. Automation is also offered by CMS and translation platforms: for example, when a translation is approved, it can be automatically published in a CMS with a CLI — command line interface or API. Such little things end up saving a great amount of time.

When preparing big chunks of text for translation, it’s easy to slip into the temptation of machine translation, but you should not rely on this without a solid professional strategy.

The thing is, localization is quite complex and there are many examples of the cases when it went wrong. There are hundreds of examples of marketing translation fails even from the biggest brands like Coca-Cola or KFC.

And if you need an example of a really clever localized website, ASOS is your choice. The brand has different and customized messages about shipping for every available location: “Shipping to Collection Points” for France and “One-day Shipping for 15€” for Italy. The company clearly did some research and found out which messages would elicit the most response from the customers.

A quick case study: localization of Jooble portal

Jooble is a job search portal that is now available in 60 countries, so it came as no surprise that the company needed to expand its reach and translate the website into different languages. The company required website translations into 16 languages, including Tagalog.

To begin with, Alconost requested materials from Jooble that would help their translators properly understand the context. For this, Jooble provided many screenshots of the user journey. These were then uploaded into the cloud-based translation software Crowdin and were carefully considered during the translation process.

In addition, the source texts were provided in the form of .docx files containing text with HTML code. The translations were carried out directly within the HTML code; all tags needed to be kept intact, as they’re essential to website formatting. In this way, the translations could be integrated into the customer’s system directly upon completion. The translators, aside from being native speaker professional translators, had extensive experience working with HTML texts.

Once the translations were added to Jooble’s website, we conducted a full linguistic testing, where we were able to fix some “long strings” that did not quite fit into their allocated places.

Ultimately, Jooble was able to create a simple user interface that would work for all regions. With the help of the screenshots provided, the translated website copy was made to be enticing to the users. Jooble also made sure to add popular searches to the home screen ー it automatically displays the types of job that would be most interesting for someone from that region, thus augmenting the click rate.


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Loïe Favre is a localization expert at Alconost, a US localization company that specializes in software, apps and game translations whose aim is to disseminate useful information about the translation industry for language professionals, localization managers and companies. Originally from Canada, she has worked for ten years as a translator and translation manager.


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How to reduce localization costs in six steps

Localization Basics

Does your company need localization at all? Well, back in 2014, research put together by OneSkyApp revealed that 56.2% of consumers prefer the ability to receive information in their native language to the price of the product. Even then, more than half of consumers already agreed that the cost of the product doesn’t matter as much as accessible information about it in their native language.

Today, the situation hasn’t changed. Localization remains crucial for every business entering the global arena. According to an infographic by Shutterstock,

  • 60% of global consumers rarely or never buy from English-only websites
  • 86% of localized content has more click-throughs and conversions than English-only content
  • 80% of consumers say they will be more likely to buy from a business that provides personalized customer experience, including content in their native language

Yet, according to Shutterstock, 71% of marketers say about half of their content is currently not being consumed because it’s ineffective for local audiences. So if the necessity for localization hasn’t gone anywhere for the past six years, why are companies still ignoring it?

For many businesses, the price of localization is the pain point. Prices can start from as low as $1,000, but this rarely happens since many localization projects are, in reality, very voluminous and labor-intensive. The price of localization also depends on several key factors, including:

  • Market research
  • The availability of appropriate software
  • Difficulty assessment
  • Testing

As a result, the costs may hit the mark of tens of hundreds of dollars, and companies may be reluctant even to consider such expenses. Because of this, localization specialists are often asked to reduce localization costs, with no negative effect on the quality, of course.

Is it possible? Let’s take a look.

1. Write a detailed localization plan

Before the localization process starts, localization specialists usually evaluate the situation first, estimating all the components that will be involved in this process. These components usually include:

  • Number of words for localization
  • Technical specifics of the content (jargon, professionalisms, terms and so on)
  • Content placement (how the text and images will be organized in the target text, depending on the specifics of the target language)
  • The availability of localization software (CAT tools, for instance)

These components are estimated in regard to the timelines (when it is absolutely vital to complete the projects), and then you can blueprint a cost reduction plan. You may, for instance, cut expenses using CAT tools — or, depending on the project, by working with source-text native files only.

2. Edit all source text to minimize translation edits

Companies pay localization specialists for the time they spend working on the document. By cutting this time, you can also cut localization costs. One of the ways to do it is to prep the source text before you start localizing it. Before you start working on localization, study the source text to detect:

  • Lengthy sentences
  • Jargon
  • Visuals that require localization
  • Messages intended for the domestic audience only

Nothing slows down the localization process more than content inconsistencies detected after you already localized a big part of the source text. By prepping your text beforehand, you establish the flow of your future work, eliminating distractions that will steal your time.

3. Explore your choice of CAT tools

With some localization projects, investing in CAT tools is unavoidable. Having a good CAT tool at hand can, however, save you a lot of time and money. Here’s a couple of reasons why:

  • CAT tools have translation memory. This means that you can reuse many previously-translated texts, which builds cost savings into your long-term localization plan.
  • CAT tools provide you with terminology management. All the terminology saved in the documents remains in the CAT tool database, which you can extract at any time.

This is especially beneficial for long-term localization projects, where you need to return to the target text after a while to make updates. If you have a limited budget for CAT tools, explore the ratings of the tools within your price range.

4. Avoid text in images

Translating the text in images is one of the most time-consuming and expensive tasks in the localization process. This task involves a specialist changing the image itself in order to localize it.

To avoid image rendering and cut localization costs, the best way out is to replace the text in images with a simple localized description or caption. This is especially useful for the localization of e-commerce listings, which often have hundreds of images of products.

5. Write concisely in the target file

Localization specialists usually charge for the number of words in the target text. The number of words may differ due to language specificity (Russian words and sentences are often lengthier than English words and sentences, for instance). So, if you have an agreement with a company to keep within a certain budget, you may consider writing more concisely in the target file. For example, use simple sentence structure, and edit out anything repetitive. This can help eliminate unnecessary costs.

6. Plan ahead and hire translators on time

With product or content localization, nothing can cost you more than putting it on the shelf until you run out of time and it becomes urgent. Urgent localization projects can cost you a fortune. “Our observations have shown that the prices for localization increase dramatically if the project is urgent and takes less than one week,” says Claire Atkins, a localization specialist at Live Lingua.

If you’re localizing content from English to German, a regular cost per word is around $0.09 (if the estimated timeline for this project is around 4-6 weeks).

If this project is urgent, the price can go up to $0.135 with additional expenses for last-minute editing.

Urgent localization projects put immense pressure on translators, so it’s natural that the prices will increase. Especially for companies that have budget constraints, it is advisable to plan ahead and hire localization specialists on time.

Localization doesn’t have to be expensive

Yes, localization can be pricey.

However, localization is all about the efficient use of resources. And if you allocate them correctly, you will be able to not only save money but also deliver a high-quality end result.

Hopefully, our tips will help you do it right and reduce content localization costs with no negative effect on the quality.


Daniela McVicker is an editor for TopWritersReview. She has a master's degree in English literature, and she is passionate about learning foreign languages and teaching.


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How to integrate cultural distance into your app development

Localization Basics, Technology

It is only natural for a company to focus on its home country when they start developing an app. It’s the market you are most familiar with, and it is where most of your current resources are deployed. However, if you want to continue to grow, and expand the relevance of your app, there may come a time when you need to consider moving into different regions and countries.

More than 5 billion people use mobile services and more than half of those devices are smartphones. When you consider the fact that only a fraction of the world’s smartphone users live in the US, you can see that there is massive potential for growth when you decide to start pushing your app into new markets.

If you are planning to market your app internationally, you have to consider the differences between the people in different markets. Beyond differences in language, people in different places have different cultural values and they respond to messages and imagery in different ways. This is what is known as “cultural distance” and it should be one of your top considerations when developing an app for different regions.


Internationalization is the process of creating an app in such a way that it can be adapted for users in different countries and regions. If you plan to market your app for an international audience, this should be a part of the development process. If you are working with an existing app that was not coded for internationalization, your development team will need to go through the app to separate the content portions of the app from the code that makes the app function.

Along with the internationalization of the app itself, you will need to globalize the efforts your company puts into supporting the application. You will need to look at how you want to position the app in different markets, your advertising efforts, the need for staff in different regions and the potential that there may be legal concerns that come with moving into new markets.


Under ideal conditions, localization will come after internationalization. This way, your app is adaptable for different countries and regions. You’ll be able to make it so things like text and other content can be switched out based on the international market of the user. Not only that, you will have laid the groundwork to move the app into these new markets.

Language is one of the more obvious concerns when it comes to app localization. While English is widely spoken throughout the world, it is not the native language of most people, and most app users prefer an experience that is in their native language.

While it may be tempting to use some type of machine translation, it is recommended that you hire human translators when you localize your app. Some of the machine services do work well, but they are also prone to mistakes. At best, these mistakes will be embarrassing; at worst, they could damage the reputation of your company.

Beyond language, you also need to consider cultural context when localizing an app. This is where cultural distance will play a role in app development.

Accounting for culture

Culture has a significant impact on how people view the world. Translating your app might put the words in the language of your target country, but that does not mean you are sending the same message or speaking to the audience in the most effective way.

Even when translated word for word, some content might have a very different meaning in different places. Obviously, a common turn of phrase in one country might seem like nonsense somewhere else. You also have situations where a translation retains its meaning, but the message might be received negatively in a different culture.

The same is also true for images. An image that evokes positive feelings in one culture might be negative in another. Furthermore, you might have images that work well in one culture, but they just don’t convey any kind of meaning in a new market.

When you are working to localize an app for a new market, you have to think beyond translation. How will the messaging carry over? Will the images have the right impact on the new audience? These cultural differences are important for businesses that want to operate in different countries.

Cultural distance examples

A good example of cultural distance is between those that are individualist as compared with those that are more collectivist. Individualist societies value being self-sufficient and favor the rights and needs of the individual over that of the broader society. In collectivist societies, the group takes priority over the individual and people are more reliant on each other. 

Another example of cultural distance is the acceptance of indulgence. In some societies, people feel freer to express and act on their desires. On the other hand, you have societies that are more restrained. In these societies, people are expected to have more control over their desires. 

These are just two examples of cultural distance, but there are many more that may need to be considered. As you assess a new market, consider the cultural differences and account for them by adapting your messaging and the imagery you use. You may even need to change the way your service functions to account for cultural differences in some places.

As a final tip, keep your eye on things like international downloads, engagement, app analytics, and user feedback. There is a chance your efforts at localization won’t be perfect for some regions. If you notice problems with the analytics, engagement, or user feedback, it can be the first sign that you got something wrong.


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Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined international relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to New York City to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food and writing.


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How to localize your website with WPML

Localization Basics

Whether you’re using it as a portfolio, trying to sell a product or just doing some general marketing, having a quality website is important. While your WordPress site might be optimized, did you ever consider that someone might stumble upon it and not understand a single word? That’s a reality when your site is only in one language — you could be losing out on a big chunk of potential readers by failing to implement website localization.

The WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML) can help you take your marketing to the next level. Keep reading to learn what WPML is and how your page will benefit from it.

Why WordPress?

There are a lot of ways to make a website, but using WordPress is definitely one of the best options. It is open-source and completely free.

In fact, WordPress was developed for bloggers and people who aren’t tech-savvy. As a result, it is quite simple to use. Customizing your web page and updating content has never been easier. You can make your page look like anything you want.

Another great thing about WordPress is that there are thousands and thousands of plugins available for it. These plugins can be used in various ways, from SEO (search engine optimization) to translating the entire site into multiple languages — and that’s where WPML comes in.

What is WPML, and what does it do?

The WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML) is a type of localization tool that translates your website into as many different languages as you need. It is flexible and compatible with any WordPress site. Additionally, it keeps SEO in mind, so you don’t need to worry about your website losing quality in the translation process.

WPML is secure and stable. Hundreds of thousands of websites use this useful tool for website localization. Consequently, it is highly optimized and reliable.

Why do I need WPML?

Did you know that only a fifth of the world population speaks English? Wouldn’t it be amazing if your website could be understood by everyone and not just a fraction of people? If you find this thought interesting, but don’t yet have a full localization strategy for various locales around the world, then WPML might be the right tool for you.

A nice-looking website will only get you so far. What really grabs people’s attention is familiarity. They are more likely to stay on your site if the page is in their native language. The end goal is to make them want to revisit the website. WPML can make that happen.

When you go the extra mile to fully localize your website to various cultures, it shows that you care, which in turn improves your brand image and extends its reach. Improving your brand name is one of the best ways to maintain good traffic.

How do I make a multilingual website for website localization?

Making a multilingual website might sound a little overwhelming. However, it’s actually quite easy. All you need are these three plugins:

  1. WPML Multilingual CMS — this is the main plugin.
  2. WPML Translation Management — this one connects you to your language service provider.
  3. WPML String Translation — this one, as the name says, allows you to translate strings.

Upon downloading these plugins and logging in, go to “WMPL” and then the translation management page. Next, go to “translation services.”  Finally, pick the name of the language service provider that you want, and you are good to go.

Who knew that a multilingual website was just a few clicks away?

How does the translation process work?

Once again, while it might sound complicated, the process itself is quite simple. As previously mentioned, WordPress and WPML are easy to use.

Naturally, the first step is connecting to the website language service provider. All you need to complete this step is the API token. Once you enter your API token in the translation services page, your language service provider account and your website will connect.

After that’s done, you need to order the actual translation. The “translation dashboard” lets you choose which parts of the website you want to translate (titles, content, individual posts or pages, and so on). This is also where you choose which languages you want to translate your content into.

Next, go to the “translation basket.” Here you will find all the information needed to verify your order. Remember to set a deadline and choose the type of translator you want. That’s it!

Enjoy your new multilingual website!

Finally, you have a translated WordPress website! Once everything is up and running, you can see the benefits of website localization. Localizing your website will improve your rankings, reach a wider audience, and potentially contribute to higher client satisfaction.

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Nicola Jane Leiper is founder and director of Espresso Translations, a global professional translation agency based in London and Milan.


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Global audiences, social media and content localization

Localization Basics

Content localization is a relatively new realm that is rapidly gaining momentum. Its existence is necessary in the modern-day world of marketing if a business wants to reach wider audiences.

Content localization has also spread to the sphere of social media marketing. Social media platforms engage billions of people. According to Statista, Facebook alone has over two billion users, and of course there are other popular social media platforms that support huge audiences, which marketers can easily reach.

Localizing content your business posts on social media can have numerous benefits in terms of reaching global audiences. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at what content localization is and why it’s not just a simple translation.

What is content localization?

Content localization has a lot to do with cultural translation. It differs greatly from a simple source text to target text translation. It is meant to answer the needs and interests of the target audience. The goal of content localization is to represent the text in the target language the way that makes the target audience believe that it was written in their native language.

A qualified professional in content localization should have:

  • excellent writing skills in order to convey the core message and transmit it to the target language;
  • good understanding and knowledge of both the source and target culture;
  • a good grasp of the technical aspects of content localization.

The skills of a professional in content localization include but are not limited to these three skills. Content localization is a complex process that requires high expertise and profound experience.

Why do you need content localization?

The answer is simple: you don’t want your brand to go down in flames on the international market.

When Coca-Cola first entered the Chinese market, the brand name was infamously interpreted as “Bite the wax tadpole.” And Pepsi’s logo “Pepsi brings you back to life” was interpreted in Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” It not only sounds wrong, but it’s also disrespectful toward Chinese culture.

Content localization is here to help you avoid these mistakes. Although such giants like Coca-Cola and Pepsi could survive such huge blunders, a small business or a startup probably couldn’t.

As far as localizing for social media specifically, let the numbers speak for themselves. According to Lyfe Marketing statistics:

  • 71% of consumers who’ve had a positive shopping experience on social media would recommend the brand to their acquaintances. Here’s where localization of social media content can help you out, as you make your brand’s products more accessible to wider audiences.
  • 91% of social media users access their accounts from smartphones or tablets. By localizing your social media posts, you’ll be able to not only access laptop users but other wider audiences who use their smartphones.
  • 49% of millennials claim that they are ready to buy a product after they’ve seen its promo on social media. Localization of your social media content will help you not only target the exact audience you want but by localizing this content you’ll be able to reach more people on the international scale.

Social media is a big deal in the world of marketing, and you already know how many people use social media platforms worldwide. “Localization of content on social media is an absolute necessity for the modern-day marketing,” says Peter Jefferson, a marketing specialist at localization and translation company The Word Point. “Having a post entry written in English and thinking that that’s enough is a big mistake. By localizing social media content you show your respect and genuine interest in reaching an international audience.”

Localization of your social media posts can benefit your business in a number of ways.

1. Your brand becomes more customer-oriented

By localizing content on your social media accounts, you improve communication with your customers in a certain country. Your client from Japan, for example, doesn’t want to buy a sweater from you if all they’re looking for is a pair of pants. The differences in languages can lead to embarrassing misunderstandings, and localization can help you avoid that.

Consider how IKEA solved the problem of localizing their social media content for different countries. They created a separate Instagram account for each country they operate in to help people in the target countries be more familiar with their products. This definitely improves B2C connections and communication.

2. You show more cultural sensitivity

Localization does not only deal with text. When talking about social media content, most people likely think of visual content like videos and images. And here localization plays an important role as well, as the pictures that are considered to be normal in your country can be considered inappropriate and obscene in other countries. By paying close attention to what you post for your audiences from other countries you’ll be able to secure your authority and create a strong image of your brand.

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Global audiences, social media and content localization

You also get a chance to express your respect towards a target culture by inviting local professionals to introduce your brand. That’s what Sephora Turkey did by inviting Murat Bekler, a Turkish makeup artist, to represent the brand’s cooperation with Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty makeup line. This builds a kind of trust between a brand and consumers, as they see a familiar face that recommends a brand to them.

3. You get tons of comments and shares

Sharing, re-gramming, re-tweeting, liking — all these things are desirable for every brand. This means that your brand gets more recognized and popular. By localizing your social media content you reach bigger audiences and get a definite chance to get more likes and shares.

You can see the same results with geotargeting: if you identify a specific location on your post, you immediately get more views, likes, shares and so on. But localization works on a wider scale: if you localize your content from English to French, you’ll not only reach people from France, but likely other French-speaking people from all over the world.


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Pauline Farris speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. She has traveled the world to immerse herself in new cultures and learn languages. She is a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division


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Reaching a global audience to maximize your startup’s potential

Globalization, Language in Business, Localization Basics

Globalization maximize startups

The Global Policy Forum reported as far back as the year 2000 that the pace of globalization — the process by which organizations start operating or influencing internationally — was quickening. Technological advances have been key to this change of pace. Globalization is not without its drawbacks, but many leading economists and business analysts believe it is better than the alternative. Indeed, Deloitte reports that after the global financial crisis in 2008, leaders around the world pledged to avoid protectionist measures to boost growth and speed up the global financial recovery.

The global environment we now live in poses both challenges and opportunities for new businesses. Startups today have a wider audience at their fingertips than ever before. A vast international customer base awaits those with the vision and courage to reach out to it. Technology can help with this, and the next issue of MultiLingual, on startups, will cover this when it goes live in a few days.

But the human element is still essential. Let’s look at language as an example of this.

Microsoft has just announced its latest machine translation (MT) success: achieving parity with the quality of human translation for the Chinese-English language pairing on 2,000 sentences in a test environment. However, there is still an incredibly long way to go before MT can rival human translation services. As such, startups that want to promote their products globally are reliant on professional human translators in order to assist them.

Adaptation and localization services are also essential. An image that is perfectly acceptable in one country can cause sufficient offense for arrest warrants to be issued in another. Any business with global aspirations therefore needs to use specialist local knowledge when globalizing its brand. Doing so does take time, but the rewards can be well worth the effort.

Our company, for example, recently launched 11 new websites targeting clients in various new countries as part of its globalization strategy. The French site is targeted to customers in France, Belgium, Canada and other French-speaking countries. Meanwhile, the German site is aimed at German-speaking territories, such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

The choice of languages for the new sites was the result of extensive research. Supply and demand were the cornerstones of the research. The demand front covered the number of speakers of the languages being considered, local business activity, size of potential customer base and search engine statistics (anchors, keyword volumes and more). On the supply side, we investigated competition and concurrency in the relevant markets, availability of local translation and localization experts, cost of advertising, cost of pay per click/SEO and similar parameters.

For companies just starting out, global dominance may seem a tall order. However, the right product can have almost boundless appeal. Have you heard of Slack? If you haven’t, you’re behind the curve. Founded less than a decade ago, the business messaging system is now available in more than 100 countries around the world. Meanwhile, TV network Netflix, founded in 1997, is available in all but four countries (China, Crimea, North Korea and Syria).For companies just starting out, global dominance may seem a tall order. However, the right product can have almost boundless appeal. Click To Tweet

Not every startup will want to go global. However, even the smallest of ideas can go a long way in the global environment in which we live. You might dream of simply running a local coffee shop, but that’s how Starbucks started too. The world’s largest coffee company, it now operates in 62 countries.

Whatever your business niche, it’s likely that there’s money to be made by turning globalization to your advantage. A carefully devised strategy, based on appropriate research, is the starting point. Identifying target countries and languages through a measured approach will ensure that time and money are both used efficiently when it comes to international expansion plans.

If you have a great product or service, the world really can be your oyster.

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Louise Taylor manages content for the Tomedes Translators blog. She has worked in the language and translation industry for many years.


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How ISO relates to LSPs

Localization Basics

These days, you should think about how a product or service you’re buying ensures it offers some minimum quality guarantees. For example, when choosing a language service provider (LSP), it’s important to remember that quality covers a number of areas, from the relationship that the LSP builds with its customers, to the reliability of its processes for selecting the language professionals who work on its projects. As well as the other more specific elements of service, such as the correct use of terminology, traceability in management processes and security of the information it handles. All of these factors help ensure that quality, as well as the satisfaction of its customers, is high.

How can you objectively evaluate all of this? That is where ISO quality standards come in — they objectively and independently certify that a company complies with the applicable regulations, and that the company follows a series of processes that are deemed to be optimal for ensuring that the product or service meets the customer’s expectations. Furthermore, the fact that ISO certification is audited annually provides further assurance that the supplier is following the due quality controls and processes, and is continually striving to improve customer satisfaction. But let’s look at it step by step.

What is a quality standard? The history of ISO

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) was founded with the aim of answering a fundamental question: “what’s the best way of doing this?”

ISO began in London, in 1944, through the merger of two national agencies for the creation of standards — ISA (International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations) and UNSCC (United Nations Standards Coordinating Committee). ISO has become the leading international standard-setting body. It comprises members from 162 countries and 3,368 technical organizations, who are responsible for drafting the ISO standards. Since it was founded, more than 17,500 ISO standards have been written, which encompass almost every area in manufacturing and technology, as well as the services sector.

The extent to which ISO standards have been implemented around the world can be seen in the organization’s annual surveys, which reveal the ever-increasing number of organizations that opt for certification.

When, how, and by whom is an ISO standard developed?

ISO does not decide when to develop a new standard, but rather it responds to a request from industry or other stakeholders, such as consumer groups. Typically, an industry sector or group communicates the need for a standard to its national member, who then contacts ISO. The next step is to appoint a project leader, who presents the proposal for the standard, via the Secretariat, to the other member countries of the relevant technical committee or subcommittee. The committee members vote whether or not to proceed with the proposal. If the proposal is approved, each country appoints a series of experts to monitor the development of the standard and thus ensure it meets the needs of the market and that it can be applied internationally. All decisions have to be reached by consensus.

There are six phases to the development process, during which the appointed experts meet to debate and approve the content: Proposal, Preparation, Committee, Consultation, Approval and Publication. Each technical committee consists of a number of members who are responsible for developing the standards. The committee appoints a panel of experts for each specific subject area, and this panel is responsible for monitoring the development of each of the standards. Consumer associations, academic institutions, NGOs and governments also collaborate in developing the standards. The experts involved in developing them do so on a voluntary and unpaid basis and tend to be independent professionals or representatives from organizations in the relevant industry, the civil service, professional organizations, research centers or universities, allowing for the optimal representation and coverage of all the interests of the sector.

Certification in the translation and interpreting industry

The technical committee responsible for drafting the standards that apply to the translation and interpreting industry is TC 37 (technical committee in charge of terminology and other language and content resources), which was created in 1947. This technical committee aims to standardize the principles. methods, and applications related to terminology and other language resources, in the context of multilingual communications and diversity, and has already published more than 51 standards, including:

ISO/TS 11669: 2012 (Translation projects — General guidance)

ISO 13611: 2014 (Interpreting — Guidelines for community interpreting

ISO 17100: 2015 (Translation services — Requirements for translation services)

ISO 20109: 2016 (Simultaneous interpreting — Equipment — Requirements)

ISO 2603: 2016 (Simultaneous interpreting — Permanent booths — Requirements)

ISO 4043: 2016 (Simultaneous interpreting — Mobile booths — Requirements)

ISO 18587: 2017 (Translation services — Post-editing of machine translation output)
(Developed by CPSL).

There are ten standards under development for the sector, including:

ISO/FDIS 18841 (Interpreting services — General requirements and recommendations)

ISO/AWI 21999 (Translation quality assurance and assessment — Models and metrics)

The most popular quality standards with which LSPs must comply in order to guarantee the quality of their products and services are ISO 17100, ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 (for medical devices only).

So, when choosing a partner for multilingual projects, in addition to the general ISO 9001 certification, it is important to check for ISO 17100, which is specific to the translation sector, and ISO 13485 for localization specifically related to the manufacture of medical devices.

  • The general standard ISO 9001 sets out the criteria for a quality management system (QMS), and applies to all fields of activity. Companies acquire this certification to demonstrate their commitment and ability to provide, products and services that consistently meet the needs and expectations of their customers.
  • The ISO 17100 standard applies specifically to translation services and, in 2015, it replaced the European standard UNE-EN 15038. The provisions of this standard establish the competencies and qualifications that translators, revisers and other professionals working in this fields must have. It also establishes the basic principles of the framework for collaboration between organizations, providers, and customers in such a way as to ensure the optimum quality of both the product (translation) and the service, and the relationship between stakeholders.
  • Depending on the specializations of the LSP, it is also important to check for ISO 13485, for the services related to manufacture of medical devices. This standard relates to risk analysis and management for each translation project in such an important field as health, where a single error could have serious consequences for the user.
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Livia Florensa, CEO of CPSL, became an expert member of the Technical Committee for Translation Services #174. As an expert, Livia is involved in developing several ISO standards for the sector, including ISO 17100. She was also the project leader for the development of ISO 18587, which regulates the post-editing of machine translations and was published in April 2017.


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How to rank well in French SEO

Language in Business, Localization Basics

If you want to reach a wide audience online in France, then it’s essential to incorporate SEO as part of your marketing strategy.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is part art and part science and includes a range of techniques designed to help you rank on the first page with Google for important keywords.If search engines didn’t exist, would it still make sense? Click To Tweet

When considering SEO, it’s essential to follow up-to-date advice. Google now uses an artificial intelligence technology (called RankBrain) as a large factor in determining how to rank websites. This and other updates mean that they penalize sites using keyword stuffing, spammy backlinks or other old fashioned SEO techniques. A good logic test is “if search engines didn’t exist, would this still make sense?”

french seo

Put your visitors first

SEMRush completed a study of Google’s ranking factors in September 2017 and found that factors like the time visitors spend on your site and the number of pages they view are now more important than factors such as how often you include a specific keyword on the page. This reinforces the importance of creating a user-friendly website with a responsive design that considers human factors first.

Accurate and easy-to-read translations, attractive images and a user-friendly layout will therefore help not only when visitors arrive at your site, but will also help you rank higher with Google and therefore drive more visitors to your site.

Write good metatags and URLs

The title and description metatag aren’t visible on your page, but appear in the search results on Google and other search engines. They’re the only information that potential visitors have when they decide whether to visit your site. Therefore, you should prioritize them. A good title metatag should include one or two keywords people search for. For example, if you’re an English teacher in Montpellier, including English, teacher and Montpellier in the meta title of your home page is a must. It should also be well written.

If you’ve translated an English site to French, check to be sure that you or your translators have included the metatags in their translation, asthis is an aspect that’s often overlooked.

Similarly, it helps if the French version of your site has URLs (the web address of each page) that are also written in French. A page called “some-english-keyword” will receive less French traffic than a page called “mot-cle-anglais.” However, it’s normal to remove accents in the URLs, as when you copy them into an email (for example), the software often doesn’t recognize accents in the URL and will convert them to a string of what looks like random characters and % signs, which looks messy (though the link will still work).

Complete a professional translation

Google translation is getting better and better, but is still far behind a professional manual translation and if you use Google translate, parts of your content will be complete gobbledygook (or Googledygook, as I like to call it). This has several disadvantages:

  • You will put off readers and make them less trusting of your company.
  • Google treats automatically translated content differently and tries to either not index it at all, or to rank it far worse than professionally translated content.
  • You risk accidentally including mistakes that could have legal or financial consequences.

Given all the above, completing a professional French translation that also takes into account SEO elements is an essential step when creating a multilingual website.

Do keyword research when translating product names

It’s particularly important for SEO that you use the optimal translations of product names in your French translation. For some products there’s only one possible translation. But for others, there could be three or four possible translations of the product name.

Do keyword research using any of a range of tools (AHREFs or SEMRush are two of the most popular ones) to identify how often each possible translation is searched for each month. If you find one version is searched for 1,000 times a month and another only 30 times a month, then it’s obvious which version will generate the most traffic to your site.

Keyword research is also a good way of establishing which product name will make the most sense to the average native French speaker, as a keyword with a higher search volume will also be the more natural sounding one for your translation.

Consider cultural differences

While it’s important to keep cultural differences in mind in general, the ideal is to consider cultural differences when it comes to your website design and even your business decisions.

If you’re translating a site that has other issues, make sure you talk to the person responsible for the functionality or design, as these all play a role too.

For example:

  • French business correspondence tends to be more formal, and it’s not uncommon to receive emails signing off with long expressions like “Veuillez recevoir, Madame/Monsieur, l’expression de mes salutations distinguées.” Check any automated or template emails to be sure you achieve the right balance, depending on your target audience.
  • The French care more about who has authorized your company and your payment process than clients in the UK or USA might, and you may find that you receive more sales if you have a series of icons of any governing bodies who have approved your products, plus bank and credit card logos at checkout.
  • Leisure time is more valued in France, so if you’re adding your opening hours to your website, don’t be worried about including a decent lunch break!
  • Switch commas and full stops around in numbers. In Britain it’s £1,500.60 (for one thousand five hundred pounds and 60p). In France it’s €1.500,60 (for one thousand five hundred Euros and 60 centimes).
  • Write phone numbers in sets of two digits: 06 02 22 22 22. The French will also read phone numbers like this aloud, so listen for if there’s any pauses when someone says something like “quatre-vingt-dix-neuf” since, depending on the pause or lack thereof, this could either be 80 19 or 99.

Above all, ask French speakers to review your website and give their honest opinion. Overall, they may have different values or color preferences than you, and this is the only way to be sure that you’re appealing to their culture. A short questionnaire really helps facilitate this process, as friends are likely to just say “Yes, it looks good” if they’re not being presented with an actual questionnaire.

In summary, to rank well with Google, ensure that you translate all elements of your site not just the obvious ones. Focus your metatags on well-written titles and descriptions that include important keywords and are written in a way that makes them likely to be clicked. If you’re not a professional translator yourself, then work with one who understands the local culture.


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Martin Woods is the SEO director of Indigoextra Ltd, a multilingual marketing company. He has 17 years of experience in web design, translation and SEO. He was raised in the UK and live in Montpellier, South France, where he homeschools two boys.


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Careful globalization navigation

Localization Basics

Ineffective planning for global expansion is often a silent problem. The negative issues usually happen so far along in the project process that there is often a scramble to correct mistakes and react to customer complaints. Executing a strong strategy regarding your expansion will help create long-term trust with your consumers, your employees and vendors. Your ROI should anticipate every financial and human curveball.

No matter the size of your organization, the cost of doing business is a priority. You don’t spend money you don’t absolutely have to. This is smart, but due to these smart decisions, we often see companies start with generic language websites. The languages are carefully chosen for the most bang for their buck, but they are not country specific. That isn’t a horrible thing. However, when you grow, you may start to see the advantages to gearing your messaging to the specific market, and here is where we open the can of worms from a localization and legal perspective. For example, once you designate a new country to sell your products, you are held responsible regarding the laws of that country, and you are also expected to be aware of the local culture, dialects and what is considered offensive.

The more complicated your content, the more risks you incur. In addition, there are third party risks to consider and licensing restrictions as well. Here are a couple of examples:

Linguistic: If you create a Canada-specific site, then you need to be prepared to have the site available in English and French. The French language laws are quite specific.

Legal: There are countries where religious regulation is part of the legal system. In countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malaysia and Indonesia, your concept and marketing needs to account for modesty.

Beyond hard and fast laws, there are also current events to be aware of. What if you have a very tight deadline, but there is a holiday that conflicts with your production schedule or a national tragedy requires you to adjust your content? There could be political conflicts or even a war between nations, so you need to be aware and be prepared to adjust your content according to potential eventualities.

Proper preparation and planning requires that you are aware of pitfalls as well as what is happening right now in your target markets. Here are five things that are helpful to consider in your strategy planning:

Define globalization. Allow the team to be in sync as to the definition of globalization as it pertains to your organization and project. Specifically, map out and clearly communicate what is involved. Create a checklist that would include language changes, additional imagery, original content and even content availability. Define what you mean by globalization as granularly as possible or it will be interpreted in differently, leaving room for inaccuracy in your brand expansion. Perhaps your campaign promotes a device where features are different depending on the country. You don’t want to risk false marketing because your product was not as described.

Avoid hard wiring. If your website and internal systems break every time you make an adjustment, then you need to fix that. Expect to grow and have a positive attitude towards the success of your organization. If your technology remains as nimble as your content, you can make fast changes to keep up with your customers. I am a fan of the agile methodology because it designed to be flexible. Anticipate that you have different features and content available to you per market and that every country is unique. Design your systems keeping in mind that you will need to change the language and replace content.

The human element. People still want to feel cared for. Take special care to insure you do not insult your customers. Focus on your international employees and vendors as well. They need to feel connected to your main headquarters and the overall vision. These are your ambassadors who represent you, and if your communication is diluted or if there isn’t confidence in the brand, there is no way to succeed. It is just as important to be aware of what is happening right now and what is important to these local customers. Equally as vital is the awareness of your international support and having strong advocates in country. An example that I like to use is what if you have a marketing concept planned and ready to go, you want your local team to keep you informed of any tragedy or news event that will make your messaging seem insensitive and will also infringe on your production schedule. If your team is treated as valuable and trusted partners, you will get the best work.

Timing. If you have remained nimble and your communication is clear, then you can react quickly. You have heard the term “strike while the iron is hot.” If there is a demand and your customers can get something similar or somehow obtain your product without purchasing it, they will. The real competitor is time. This is the new normal. If customers want something and they know it exists, they will not wait. This is especially true for entertainment. Global marketplaces allow for customers to be aware if their favorite show is available in another country. Piracy is always a concern and the best way to avoid this is to be available as quickly as possible. This is where you may lean towards subtitles rather than voice dubbing.

Downstream effects. Globalization always involves reliable teams and resources. Ideally, once you kick off a project, you should be planning for all regions. The challenges lie with knowing how to involve your employees and vendors without distracting your lead creatives. Allow your creative team to create the best ideas by having a conduit between creative and planning. If you are responsible for scoping of production and dispersing the communication, be aware of what is involved in creating additional versions of your content.

Overall, there are advantages to having someone connecting the dots as you grow and expand. The earlier you think about the impacts of globalizing the better prepared you will be.

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Erica Haims has held long-term roles at Atlantic Records and Apple. She recently launched Haims Consulting to assist brands with their global marketing execution.


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Localization Basics

Localization Basics

So you want to expand into new markets. Or maybe you want to know what translation mistakes your company should avoid. Possibly, you’re just curious what localization is. Great! You’ve come to the right place. Here are four important thing to keep in mind.

1. The customer is always right

You should know what your different end-users need, as Richard Sikes explains in an article about international expansion. Knowing what customers in various locales want, and then delivering it to them in a culturally-acceptable, error-free way, is the underlying focus of localization. You can read the full article, as well as several others on localization basics, in this excerpt from MultiLingual.

2. Localization management can be tricky

If you think you can hand off your international expansion or translation to Jan in IT or José in marketing, you might be in for a rude awakening. Translation, vendor management, localization project management — these are all full-time jobs that you need to outsource to qualified individuals or hire in-house. You can study up on it in further detail in this focus.

3. Translation itself is tricky

Especially when you factor in choosing a translation vendor and understanding translation technology. And by “translation technology,” we don’t necessarily mean machine translation, which you’re probably already familiar with thanks to Google Translate. Being a good translator requires a high level of expertise, especially in this day and age. Read more here.

4. In the localization industry, you can always learn more

Consider how complex each language is. Consider how complex the social cues, habits and customs of each country are. Multiply that by every language and every culture in the world, and then multiply that by the expanding set of technology we use on a daily basis. This industry is exciting because there’s always something new to learn or explore, whether that’s how to localize apps, how to localize voice recordings, how to translate for the medical devices of the future or a host of other considerations.

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Katie Botkin, Editor-in-Chief at MultiLingual, has a background in linguistics and journalism. She began publishing "multilingual" newsletters at the age of 15, and went on to invest her college and post-graduate career in language learning, teaching and writing. She has extensive experience with niche American microcultures across the political spectrum.


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