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An Interview With Christoffer Nilsson

Business News, Localization Technology, Multimedia Translation

By the looks of his LinkedIn profile, Christoffer Nilsson is nothing short of a true startup success story. Christoffer NilssonEven before graduating from Lund University, Sweden, he had co-founded Atod AB and Keyfactor AB, both game-related companies. Chris went on to become CEO of Warthog Sweden, managing director of Eidos Studios, and has managed the development of 20+ commercial video game projects. Since 2009, he has been managing director of LocalizeDirect, currently developing localization tools for the games industry.

We reached out to hear more about Gridly, a new CMS for digital games that is now running in beta and recently drew a $1.1 million investment from IKEA Family Foundation and other venture capitalists.

Gridly aims to become a competitive CMS for multilingual game projects. How do you foresee distinguishing Gridly from other systems?
The main differentiator is that we built a headless CMS tailor-made for the games industry. There are great tools to help developers with version control of simple files, like for your 3D meshes and textures. Gridly manages structured data, say an in-app purchase object that requires a combination of data types such as a name, a price, an image showing the item, and a description that needs translation into multiple languages. Gridly can then give business analysts access to change the price, and have translators and proofreaders edit the target languages, as well as keep track if any translation needs to be updated due to changes in the source string.

What is behind Gridly’s focus on game localization?
We chose to build localization into Gridly at the core, as localization is such a key element in the update cycle of games. It is also very hard to manage with a conventional file-based version control system. Gridly actually version controls every single string separately, making it easy to roll back to an earlier version. For more than ten years, we’ve been offering a localization management system to game developers called LocDirect. Many of the best game developers in the world are using LocDirect. So with Gridly, we took all the learnings and best practices from LocDirect and built into Gridly.

Besides the games industry specialty, are you trying to focus on a specific geographic area with this new CMS?
No, we have clients in more than 60 countries, so it is a global product.

Will Gridly offer anything innovative with regards to workflow?
Yes, we’re making it very easy for developers to customize Gridly and set up their workflows. We also offer strong support for multi-step localization, where you may start translating from Chinese to English, and then from English, go global. We also have support for managing audio in the localization flow.

How was the connection made with Entreprenörinvest? What is their interest in the language or gaming industry?
We went out to look for a partner who could provide “smart money” and be part of our journey onward. About 12 months ago, we started discussions with Jan Andersson, who is on the board of directors of both Entreprenörinvest and Innovum Invest. Jan had previously founded and exited a large software company in our region, so he had been on our radar for quite a while. They liked the combination of being part of the growing game sector with a de-risked entity. One could say that we’re selling the shovels to the game gold-diggers.

 

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Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.

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How experiential marketing is gaining momentum

Marketing, Multimedia Translation

Experiential marketing is a tactic that goes beyond promoting a brand’s products or services. In this form of marketing, the consumer doesn’t sit passively and listen to the marketer’s message like in the case of traditional TV, radio and newspaper ads. This kind of marketing involves engaging the target customers thoroughly and exciting their five senses. It is a highly personalized marketing tactic brands use to create a relationship with their customers. That means customers can see, touch, smell, listen to, and where appropriate, taste the product before making a purchasing decision.

However, with experiential marketing, brands need to study their audience. For example, a brand that wishes to sell the product in the US and in China needs to target both audiences differently. Something that is humorous in the US is not funny in China. That’s why experimental marketing goes hand-in-hand with localization strategies.

Experiential marketing may also be given other names such as engagement marketing, live marketing, participation marketing and event marketing. The term is relatively new in most economies and has become particularly popular with the growth of social media. Also, the strategy is attracting more sales by pushing the right buttons in the modern consumer. It helps marketers to break the resistance that consumers have against new brands by allowing the consumer to holistically interact with a product.

For example, to generate buzz regarding the long-awaited TV show “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” Netflix created a campaign with 200 pop-up Luke’s Diners around the United States to serve refreshments. For those who have not seen the TV show, Luke’s Diner is an iconic place in the show where most of the scenes are recorded. The campaign was very successful, as long lines were created at each location. The event’s Snapchat filter was viewed 880,000 times.

In Asia, the chip company Lay’s created a pop-up claw crane machine for Japan, which allowed people to physically climb in the machine and grab things. It was a huge success as people relived their childhood memories with crane machines and were waiting in lines to give it a go.

Why should you consider experiential marketing?

It encourages consumers to share visual content online
When consumers take pictures and videos during experiential marketing events, they help brands to expand their marketing reach. After all, most of that content ends up in social media. Experiential marketing, to some extent, leverages grassroots marketing by appealing to people’s love for visual online content. And because we are living in the era of smartphones and the internet, this form of marketing will only keep gaining more and more momentum. One thing to keep in mind though is that if brands create online campaigns that go viral worldwide, they should bear in mind that they would have a wider reach if the content that they share would be translated and adjusted based on country location. There are companies that offer professional translation services for all types of content and who could be of great help.

TV and radio ads are irritating
Marketers have overused TV, radio, and print ads for so long that consumers now find them irritating. It is not uncommon these days to find people recording TV or radio programs so that they can watch them later and skip all the ads in between. How many times have you skipped YouTube ads when watching your favorite videos? Clearly, ads are unnecessarily irritating. Experiential marketing, on the other hand, has tailor-made messages that speak to the soul and mind of every consumer. The consumer is an active participant and not a passive observer, so he will rarely get bored or irritated.

It helps brands establish deep connections with their target customers
When people interact with your brand and have fun, positive connotations regarding your brand are developed. And because these experiences are memorable, people really enjoy being part of experiential marketing. It makes them feel valued, and that breeds unbeatable brand loyalty. Also, customers identify with your brand as a whole, not just the products they tasted or touched. Remember that when people become loyal, they are more emotionally attached to the brand than to the quality of its products. “If you can mix this strategy with localization and target a wider global market, that would generate an even more successful marketing strategy,” say experts from New Horizons Global Partners.

It generates authentic brand awareness
Brand awareness is an important aspect of marketing. People need to understand what your brand is all about and which problems your products seek to address in their lives. But brand awareness isn’t an easy agenda to execute partially because customers tend to be hostile and skeptical towards unknown brands and partially because your competitors offer clients endless options to choose from. But with experiential marketing, customers interact with your brand firsthand and know everything they need to know about it. That is the awareness that will enable them to make a genuine positive opinion about your products.

It can convert participants into unpaid brand ambassadors
Participants in an experiential marketing campaign are initially inspired to become loyal customers, and they may also become your brand ambassadors. They may share the memorable experiences they had with your brand, encouraging their friends and family to try your products. Word-of-mouth recommendations are a very powerful form of marketing according to McKinsey, which notes that they drive about 50% to 80% of new leads.

 

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Christian A. Kruse is a marketing and business expansion expert for Asian markets. Based in China, he has helped many companies expand in China, Singapore, Japan, the Philippines, and elsewhere. He has experience working in a range of industries and providing technical support in topics such as business growth, market expansion, and product development. Currently, he is also serving as an expert at GlobalizationPedia and provides technical advice for its China EOR solutions targeting US-based international businesses.

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Monitoring your multilingual website’s performance during quarantine traffic

Localization, Multimedia Translation

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced governments to issue quarantine and even lockdown measures, as well as restricting most forms of travel and social gatherings. Because of this, computers and smartphones are one of the few mediums people use to stay connected with their family and friends, and also to stay in the loop. But when you have this many people around the world going online and staying home on a prolonged basis, this presents ripe website traffic opportunities.

With this in mind, translating your website is a good way of attracting global traffic. But if you already had that idea in the first place, how sure are you that your multilingual website can handle the sudden surge in global traffic? There are tools and strategies you can use to ensure that your multilingual website is consistently up to speed. You should obviously employ localization, a subset of globalization (not to be confused with internationalization), to further refine your multilingual website in order for you to bring in more traffic.

Quarantine measures are creating a global traffic goldmine

Let’s do a quick recap of the global situation in regard to internet traffic. As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in governments implementing quarantine measures and telecommuting schemes. Most global and even domestic nonessential travel is restricted for the next few weeks and months, depending on how countries can properly contain the virus within their own borders.

As a result, hundreds of millions to even billions of people around the world are now quarantined indoors to some degree, and must continue to social distance until their governments say otherwise. This unprecedented scale of people staying indoors presents ripe website traffic opportunities.

COVID-19 news is not always what people want to read about and watch. People can only take in so much somber news in one day, so browsing the internet and social media is helping people stay entertained and informed, and at the very least, sane under quarantine. Web traffic has gone up quite a lot as more people hunker down.

What does this mean for websites? An effective digital marketing strategy in general is one that can adjust and accommodate global trends. So what can you do to grab your slice of the hundreds of millions of internet users staying at home? It’s pretty straightforward in the end: Having a multilingual website can attract a multilingual audience.

But with so much global traffic now at your digital doorstep, can your multilingual website even handle such a surge in traffic? That’s something you have to strongly consider as even a network giant such as Netflix had to cap their bandwidth by limiting the quality of streaming from high definition to standard definition.

But even if you’re not witnessing that much crippling traffic on your website, at least for now, it’s better to stay proactive. After all, significantly slow loading speeds and website outages can result in drastic consequences to your current and future traffic. For instance, Google’s marketing industry resource Think with Google reported the industry benchmark for page load times should be under three seconds.

At three seconds, the chances users will bounce increase by 32%. At five seconds, bounce probability increases to 50%. No matter how you look at it, those are staggering statistics. One second is all it takes for users to look the other way. In the end, it pays to have good website health, especially when taking into account current traffic conditions.

How to translate your website

Pew Research surveyed 34 countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of these, 32 reported that over half to nine-tenths of their population use the internet, with North America, Europe, East and Southeast Asia, and some countries in Latin America exhibiting the highest internet usage.

If you’re wondering which language can bring you the most returns in traffic, Internet World Stats showed that in 2019, other than English, Chinese and Spanish were the top internet languages. There were nearly 900 million Chinese internet users and nearly 400 million Spanish internet users. If you can effectively localize your website to even just one language, you have the potential to attract millions of viewers.

How you go about website translation can range from using Google Translate to a separate optimized website with all the assets localized to the intended target audience.

But you don’t exclusively need to create another website in another domain. You can simply use subdirectories to create another multilingual version of your pages. Each subdirectory will have its respective translated pages, in which case you have to provide a panel for users to simply switch between languages.

You can also opt to create an entire new translated website registered in a regional domain. For instance, if you want to create a Japanese website exclusively for mainland Japanese audiences, then you have to have your website registered in their domains for it to be indexed locally. This is a long-term and pricey way of making a multilingual website. But it helps knowing your long-term options with your multilingual website for future reference.

As for the actual process of translating your website content, could Google Translate be enough? You might think it’s too good to be true — why doesn’t everyone have a multilingual website if Google Translate is right there for us to use? Your suspicions are well-founded.

Indeed, Google Translate, or any free online translator for that matter, is very convenient to use and is mostly free. And WordPress features plenty of handy website translation plugins. But Google Translate, and machine translation (MT) in general, is not without its shortcomings. Even though MT development has achieved great strides in recent years, Google Translate can’t accurately translate complex and nuanced expressions. It also can’t handle lengthy sentences and paragraphs without diverging away from text’s actual context. Free online translators can only accurately work with generic texts and common expressions.

Truth to be told, inaccurate and inappropriate translations can damage your website and brand image, especially if you’re reaching out to a new foreign audience for the first time. Proper and effective website translation is more than just copy-pasting translated content onto your website’s content management platform. After all, if it was that easy, everybody would be doing it right from the start.

Your safest option, one that can bring you good results without backfiring, is by hiring a website translator. It’s the same basic idea as hiring a website developer to create your website. You’d want a website translator familiar with website architecture both at the backend and frontend. You can find them either at freelance platforms such as Upwork or from a translation company. A translation company provides diverse translation services legal translation, medical translation, and yes, website translation services.

Have an arsenal of website analytics and performance tools

The standard way to ensure your website is up to speed, not just in terms of loading speeds, but also in terms of overall website health, is to run a website audit. You can use website audit tools to crawl around the website and give you a website health score. As a refresher, they crawl around your website and look for broken links, duplicate tags, gauge loading speed, and any other bugs and issues that can harm its user experience (UX). Generally, an average score of 88 out of a 100 (and higher) is what you want.

But your score will be more meaningful if it can maintain high marks relative to the amount of traffic your multilingual website gets. You can easily keep track of your traffic through a variety of tools, Google Analytics being one of the most popular. It even checks the amount of time users spent per page and whether or not they accessed it through a computer or their phone.

When your site is experiencing a surge in traffic, you have to put the effort in maintaining a consistently high score. However, as with many things in website development in general, that’s easier said than done. There’s a high chance of encountering initial setbacks with your multilingual website if it’s your first time doing it. But since you can’t afford to miss out on global traffic, then you should waste no time in making improvements.

A website health score is affected by a multitude of things. But if you think you’ve already done so much on your own end such as repairing 404 errors, optimizing graphics, revising tags, then consider upgrading your hosting plan. If you originally subscribed to a shared hosting plan, then consider upgrading your hosting plan to cloud hosting since it’s considerably faster than shared hosting.

While shared hosting is cheaper, by definition, you’ll be sharing space with other website owners. The more people are crowded in one server, the slower loading speeds will get. On the other hand, cloud hosting servers are not tied to servers in one geographic location. They consist of multiple servers located throughout the world that act as one server.

If you have a shared hosting plan and the server malfunctions, then all websites under it will go offline. If a cloud server malfunctions, then other servers can take the additional load, which means your website stays online. Cloud hosting is more expensive, but it’s often worth the extra investment.

However, are tools and upgraded hosting plans enough to optimize your traffic? As you probably know, there’s a lot more work that goes into attracting and maintaining traffic than just backend maintenance. You should put as much effort on your website’s frontend as you do on your backend. But again, this is easier said than done.

Localize

What if you’re not getting the traffic results you need? Should you translate your website to a few more languages? Truth to be told, if you don’t have a sound content marketing strategy, then there will be significant diminishing returns the more languages you try to cover. And it won’t be worth the additional time and investment.

Rather, you can maximize the effectiveness of just one language through localization. Localization is the process of adjusting content to fit the needs, preferences and interests of a target audience. You could say that’s just marketing in general, but localization is different.

It’s mostly employed as means of reaching out to foreign audiences. Localization goes deeper than translation. It’s about making a lasting and meaningful impression by resonating with them. Website localization also has its unique checklist dos, don’ts and know-hows.

Website developers and owners know that user design (UD) and user experience (UX) are what will make or break a website. But again, that’s easier said than done, and you probably know that with your experience optimizing your English website. So how do you localize UD and UX?

One of the most important factors is aesthetics. One peer-reviewed study explored how users ranked website design elements relative to user experience. The researchers found out that graphical representation is the second most important design element after navigation. In that case, aesthetics is a highly significant factor.

Some cultures and societies have preferred color schemes. For instance, some view red as a lucky color while others view it as a hostile and unlucky color. Depending on your target audience, you have to adjust to their preferred color schemes that’ll evoke good impressions.

Another factor in providing a localized UD and UX is optimizing typography. For many languages, you need to have it written in their native writing systems. In that case, you have to adapt your typography until it meets a satisfying visual standard for your foreign audience. In other words, you have to worry about how your texts look and whether or not it’s appropriate, legible and aesthetically pleasing.

Chinese, for instance, has characters with very intricate strokes. So the right font is crucial. Another example is Arabic. Unlike most writing systems that are read left-to-right, Arabic is one of the handful of languages in the world that’s read from right-to-left.

Localize content that follows trends

Since you’re dealing with a foreign audience, you’ll have to expand your content research process to their domain, literally and figuratively. You have to make sure your content incorporates local numerics from currencies, units of measurement, time zones and so on. But other than that, you need to also share content that follows local prevailing trends.

Following trends and knowing what your audience wants to read and watch is one of the essentials in SEO practices. You can’t come up with good localized content without obviously knowing the prevailing trends in their pop culture. However, knowing what they want to read and/or watch is one thing. Making sure that your content actually appears on their regional search engine is another distinct SEO consideration.

Having proper keywords is part of good SEO and good Google rankings. You can certainly adapt through localized keyword research. Each country has its own preferred keywords, and languages are divided by distinct regional variations and dialects. For example, the word “apartment” is used in the US, but the word “flat” is the keyword in the UK.

Website localization is a long-term consideration, especially if you plan to register in regional domains. Doing it right can take a long time, much more than just website translation alone. In fact, website translation is just part of website localization if you look at the wider picture. So whether or not website localization is worth undertaking is up to you to decide. But if you do decide it’s worth a shot, then it’s also worth doing right.

Have your multilingual website proofread

Before deploying your localized multilingual website, you have to test it first. You’re not only looking for bugs, but most importantly, translation errors and localization faux pas. This requires an expert and objective eye. For that, you need to have localization experts and beta testers.

Ensure that your beta testers are native speakers. Their local knowledge can provide you with nuanced criticisms on how to refine your website. You can easily find a website localization expert from the same translation company since localization is one of the language service industry’s staple services.

All in all, even if the urge to quickly deploy your multilingual website is too tempting, it’s worth doing it the right way with the right people with the right knowledge and experience on board. It’s worth exerting the time and effort to properly optimize both the frontend and backend of your website for it to be capable of attracting and retaining new incoming streams of foreign traffic.

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Laurence Ian Sumando is a freelance writer who pens articles on business, marketing and the language service industry.

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Nine multilingual SEO mistakes and how to avoid them

Localization, Multimedia Translation, Technology

Building an international and multilingual presence online isn’t the easiest thing to do, and there are plenty of ways to mess up. That’s why it’s worth reviewing these nine common multilingual SEO errors that can trip up any company looking to expand abroad.

1. Using the same URL for each of your multilingual web versions

Each of your language or country pages must be shown through its own specific and accessible URL (web address) so that Google can effectively crawl, index and rank your sites. This is much better for your Google rank than locale-adaptive crawling, which attempts to determine a visitor’s language or country via their location information and shows them a version of content on the same URL for all languages.

Google’s search engine doesn’t use cookies, and therefore if you have a multilingual website and control your URL with cookies only, it will literally be impossible for Google to index the foreign versions of your website. Anything after a hashtag (#) also counts as the same URL to search engines, so it’s essential that the language determinant is before any hashtags used in the URL.

Thus, it’s imperative that you set up an individual web structure for each international version of your website. If you are targeting multilingual clients/customers, this means using country specific domain names, sub-directories or sub-domains. There are advantages and disadvantages to all of these options and no clear winner in terms of SEO. My personal preference is to use separate country domain names and it’s simple to configure different domains to use the same database with CMS systems like WordPress, PrestaShop or Drupal.

2. Redirecting users automatically to an international version of your website without giving them a choice

Obviously, you want to make sure that a visitor is seeing the right version of your site, especially after you put so much effort into making separate versions. Automatic redirection based on country or browser language is a problem because:

  1. Automatic redirects can confuse users, especially those who might mistake it for some kind of virus or scam.
  2. They might genuinely want to view the version of your site that they clicked on because the country-specific website is not written in their language (if they’re expats or tourists) or they may want to compare your services by country.
  3. Websites get most of their visits from search engines and, except for brand name searches, it’s likely that someone will have found a page by going to the version of Google they want and entering a language specific keyword to find your site.
  4. You’ll also redirect the Googlebot because its crawlers are only in a select number of countries (mainly the US). This means that Google may only see and index a limited number of your sites.

Most importantly, if users can’t easily change back to the version of your site that they want, they may very well choose your competitor instead. So instead of automatically redirecting a used, show a pop-up message giving them the option to click through to the site you think they should be on.

3. Using automated translation alone

It can be an expensive endeavor to create international versions of your website, so many people will choose to cut corners by using machine translation. After all, it’s quick, easy and cheap.

The downside, however, is massive. Machine translation is not known for its nuance, and it normally just does a straight word-for-word translation. This can cause all manner of problems as a quick online search for ‘marketing translation fails’ will show you. (A personal favorite is the KFC slogan “Finger-Lickin’ Good” translated to “Eat Your Fingers Off” in China.)

The only way to avoid this and ensure your website is fully comprehensible to an international audience is to hire professional translators. You don’t want your content to be misinterpreted. You can, however, use Google Analytics to find which pages on your site get the most visits and consider not translating pages that receive very little traffic (and that aren’t important for legal reasons).

4. Forgetting to translate “hidden” parts of the website

When you’re translating your website into multiple languages, you’re going to remember to translate body text, page titles, blogs, captions and things that are easily seen by any visitor to your website. That’s great.

However, there is plenty of text that may easily go unseen (and therefore untranslated) when you merely focus on the pages you see when checking the site yourself. This could be text that works in the background to increase traffic to your site, or it could be pages that only pop up when the visitor performs a certain action, like clicking through to buy a product. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Metatag titles
  • Meta descriptions
  • URLs
  • Alt text for images
  • Checkout pages
  • Newsletter sign-up forms
  • Error messages

You need to do a deep dive into the background of your website and try to use the site as a potential client/customer would. The metatag title and description appear in the search results and are particularly important to translate for any multilingual SEO project. One way to check if these have been translated is to do a search in Google for site:example.com. Replacing “example.com” with the name of your domain, with no space after “site:” will show you all the pages that Google has indexed of your site.

5. Not considering product availability in foreign markets

A major challenge that you will face when setting up a company in international markets is product shipping. When you are planning your SEO strategy, you need to figure out how to reflect your new warehouse situation on each international version of your website as some products, due to differing regulations or other concerns, may not be available in all countries.

Decide whether you’ll redirect them to a different product based on their IP settings or bring up a “Not available in your area” message. This will provide you with a seamless user experience and increase your conversions.

6. Not using specific keyword research for each different market

Keywords are not universal. One that works perfectly and drives massive conversion among consumers in England might fail for English-speaking people across Europe or in other English-speaking countries. This is why you can’t just translate your existing keywords and hope for the best. It will create huge gaps, which your competitors will take advantage of.

Instead, do keyword research in each separate language and by country. We all know that English-speakers in different countries have different words for the same thing (such as cookie and biscuit), so you don’t want to fall into that trap.

It is a lot of work, but it is the foundation for your multilingual SEO strategy, so it’s worth the effort to build your site on a solid foundation. For some terms, particularly technological terms, it’s possible that foreign speakers will still search for the English version of a keyword, even if a local translation exists and keyword research is the only way to reliably identify which version is most used in any given country.

7. Opting to translate rather than transcreate

Going back on our previous discussions of why machine translation is tricky, you should know that mere translation alone can create problems for your business. Often, this translation won’t be adequate for foreign markets, because copying content word-for-word may mean duplicating content that doesn’t really work in other countries.

The solution to this is transcreation. Simply put, transcreation is creating marketing content that resonates in local markets and delivers the same impact as the content on the original site. Often, it uses the original idea as a base but localizes it to create quality content that will increase the impact on consumers.

For example, if you’re in the tech sphere and you had a blog post about earning money through recycling your old phone on your UK website, this would need major alterations for a Spanish site where the rules around recycling are different.

Some phrases are particularly difficult to translate and this is where transcreation is essential. See examples of these in German and Spanish, plus a guide on adapting to the French culture as part of French SEO.

8. Forgetting to localize content on your websites for different countries

In a similar vein, don’t automatically assume that you can reuse content for websites that are in the same language, but developed for different countries (i.e. the UK and the US). There are numerous examples of linguistic and cultural differences between countries with the same official language that we don’t make enough allowances for.

For example, if a page on your UK site talks about rainy days, it may not be relevant in some parts of the US or in Australia. You need to localize the content to target your audience in each specific country, which will mean different idioms, references, and content styles.

Again, this is another example of why keyword research using native speakers is so important. Look at the different words that English speakers in the UK, the US and Australia use to mean the same thing.

UK US Australia
Chemist/Pharmacy Drugstore Chemist/Pharmacy
Sweets Candy Lollies
Toilet Restroom/Bathroom Bathroom/Dunnie
Plane Airplane Aeroplane
Rucksack Backpack Matilda
Fancy Dress Costume Togs

9. Failing to engage in local link building

Link building is an important tool for any company or website, but too many businesses will leave this until much later in their multilingual SEO strategy. If you have a well-established site it can be easy to assume that a high quality translation with good on-page SEO will be sufficient for the newly translated site to rank well with Google. This isn’t always the case, as your existing site may have lots of quality backlinks going to it, and your new site won’t, and backlinks are half the story when it comes to SEO.

You’ll attain a higher Google rank by making sure that your local site is being linked to by local and regional websites. You can do this in a range of different ways:

  • Writing engaging articles that include a relevant backlink to your site and asking bloggers to add it to their site.
  • Submitting your site to country specific directories — ideally ones focusing just on the service you offer, or similar products/services.
  • Engaging with a local audience on social media.

For optimal multilingual SEO, it’s important that links go to the correct language version of your site (so French content links to your French pages, German content links to your German pages and so on). You can also read more on how to implement a successful multilingual link building strategy.

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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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How movies impact our societies

Multimedia Translation

Audiovisual input and output devices are used in abundance these days. Now more than ever, everyone is watching videos. Because of this, the film industry is arguably one of the most influential sectors of modern society. Sitcoms and comedy shows make us laugh, psychological thrillers help us see the world from new perspectives, and historical films help us understand where we’ve come from as a people. Every video and every film can reflect society and transform opinions.

The undisputed raw power of movies

The power of audiovisuals has been manifested and exploited politically, socially, and economically throughout history. Leaders such as Adolf Hitler, for example, successfully used films as propaganda tools during World War II. Unfortunate facts like these show the raw power of film — an immense power that has even caused revolutions.

As technology keeps growing, political and economic leaders have utilized cinema in changing and shaping people’s outlooks either for their own benefit or for the benefit of the people. Quality translations are also readily available and extremely affordable for everyone these days, which makes it easy for filmmakers to reach their target audiences from all corners of the world in their mother tongue.

A good movie can entertain, educate, and inspire the viewer in many ways. Think of the impact that songs have on people, for example. They can make us think. They can make us compassionate. They can inspire us to help others and to do good to and for humanity.

Romantic movies, on the other hand, can remind us why love is important and why it is worth fighting for. They make us cry and laugh at our own romantic flaws. Crime and action TV shows also warn us about the dangers of criminal activities, terrorism, and war.

In some cases, movies can even awaken a sense of empathy in people who have never experienced war firsthand. They may help us feel responsible for our brothers and sisters living in war-torn countries even as much as we’ve never been there ourselves.

Of particular note for the localization industry, movies mirror culture.

Every movie is set and developed in a particular culture. Movies are an integral part of us; they mirror what we believe and how we coexist as people. It is easier to see our concerns, attitudes, flaws and strengths in films than it is to decipher them from our daily interactions. When our prevalent beliefs and ideologies are challenged in films, we are sometimes able to interrogate ourselves and embrace change.

And thanks to audiovisual translations, people from all over the world are able to watch movies and understand the cultures of faraway communities. Take Netflix, for example. Netflix is an online streaming provider that hosts a multitude of movies and programs for viewers from all around the world. Netflix streams movies in different languages, portraying different cultures and traditions that enable viewers from any place in the world to get acquainted with other nations’ cultures. In fact, according to Netflix viewing data, nine out of every ten people who watched the German TV series Dark lived outside of Germany. Also, further studies reveal that the top shows watched by people in India include Narcos, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Riverdale, Black Mirror and Chef’s Table, among others. Because of the effective localization strategies implemented by Netflix, audiences from different parts of the world are able to stream any movie they like with subtitles in a language of their choice or they can choose a dubbed version of the show or movie.

Given the recent events with the spread of the novel coronavirus and various governmental policies for national lockdown across the world, Netflix has experienced a spike in user demand for streaming. In fact, Netflix and other major streaming channels, have cut their bandwidth usage to prevent network congestion.

Besides mirroring our diverse cultures, the film has for a long time been shaping our beliefs and values. A good example is when people copy fashion trends from movie stars and musicians. It is also common these days to find societies using figures of speech that are inspired by the film industry. At the very least, film solidifies selected cultural beliefs and renders some redundant.

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Sarah Morris is a business advisor for several companies in the Arkansas region, and also works for US Translation Company. She has experience working in a range of industries and providing technical support in topics such as business growth, market expansion and product development.

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Localization lessons from a software startup

Localization Technology, Multimedia Translation

When I started working in a startup company as a technical writer, little did I know that in a few short years I would be managing software localizers working on three continents. What I learned in that role makes for an interesting tale and might be helpful to someone in a similar situation. If you are currently working in a startup, or hope to do so one day, please let me share a few things that might be useful to you. MultiLingual‘s issue on startups just went live, so you can check that out as well.

A bit about the company

The company was a survivor of the dot-com bust. Its flagship product was a web-based e-procurement product. There were two kinds of customers — individual corporations and e-commerce exchange sites. The large corporations would install the product on their own servers, and allow their suppliers to respond to request for proposals (RFPs) or participate in reverse auctions — auctions where suppliers tried to secure sales by lowering their prices in competition against other suppliers. The e-commerce exchanges would allow their own customers to do the same on systems that they (the exchanges) maintained.

In the early years, all the customers were based in the United States. The development team was aware that internationalizing the product would be a good idea, but this was certainly not a priority. In the first months of the company’s existence it, after all, was easy to understand why. The technology was new, not widely understood and the payoff from a significant investment was uncertain.

That all changed, of course, once one customer — an e-commerce exchange for mining and oil companies — was eager to pay for user interfaces in Portuguese and Spanish. Internationalization and translation were suddenly spoken of in almost reverent tones by everyone. Around this time, I became involved in the effort, probably because the online help was by far the largest chunk of text requiring translation.

Internationalization issues

While the initial internationalization proceeded smoothly, this simple coding requirement became the source of problems as the product evolved and the code base grew. Sometimes junior engineers or contract employees would forget to externalize strings in this or that module. Errors like these usually led to a reprimand and to reminders that all functionality would eventually be translated.

While these minor mishaps were perhaps excusable in less experienced coders working to meet tight deadlines, that was not the case for other offenses. The most grievous sin against internationalization, for example, was committed by a senior consultant. An audit revealed that he had left over 2,000 error messages embedded in the code. This caused significant delays in translating and testing the product.

No text in image files

One of the mistakes that we made early on was to use literally hundreds of PNG files in the product. At that time, the web was so new that the idea of graphics inserted between text or overlaying text seemed like a great idea. While this strategy made for some attractive web pages, it became a huge burden once we began translating the product.

Fortunately, after one or two rounds of translation, the illustrator found a way to automate the creation of the localized images. Later on, the development team worked to remove text entirely from images and enter it in resource files. While exceptions to this rule were sometimes made in response to a customer request, it was largely respected and helped reduced translation costs.

Customer-specific translations

Even when every string was properly externalized, translated and delivered, it sometimes happened that a customer would want to change previously approved translations for one reason or another. Originally, this was seen as a software problem. A bug report was filed by a field engineer and processed accordingly, eventually getting assigned to localization. Then the original translation was replaced with the requested one.

Since some terms employed in the localized UIs were neologisms, it is not surprising that customers would want to change them as the technology was adopted and the language describing it matured. For some customers, however, opening a ticket and waiting for a patch release was too time-consuming a process to change a text string. They wanted to change translations on their own whenever they saw the need, or in response to criticisms from their suppliers.

In response to this demand, and in response to the growing number of bug reports that were simply language issues, the development team created a tool that allowed authorized users to change localized text interactively. By clicking a text string on the served browser page, an authorized user could enter a new string and save it directly to the localized RESX file. While not every customer decided to use this tool, it did considerably reduce the number of language bugs that were submitted.

localization software exampleIn addition to providing this tool, we adopted a more customer focused approach to translation. This was especially important since in several of the target languages — particularly Slovenian, Turkish and Russian — there were at that time no standard, agreed-upon translation for certain e-procurement terms. In the case of Slovenian, for example, the translator discovered that he was first to introduce several terms into the language by working directly with the customer who had demanded this language.

Updating resource files

As noted above, many of the customers were large corporations and drove development of customer-specific functionality. This led to custom resource files in addition to standard resource files. Their demands often led to features that were incorporated into the main product.

In the early days, when there was just one customer that wanted the user interface translated into Spanish and Portuguese, updating the standard and custom resource files was a relatively easy task. Over time, as the number of supported languages grew, and as the number of customers grew maintaining and updating the resource files became a full-time task.

It was necessary to create a tool that would compare the English resource files — both base and custom ones — with the localized resource files in order to extract the strings requiring translation. Once those strings were translated, the tool would need to re-integrate them into the existing localized resource files.

We looked for an off-the-shelf software package that could do this, but at the time there were none that met our needs. Happily enough, an engineer volunteered to create a Java-based utility that performed all these tasks remarkably well. Since the number of resources eventually swelled to over 12,000, you can imagine that this utility was essential.

Figure 2 shows the translation update workflow. As shown below, the tool performed two separate comparisons in order to generate a delta or diff file containing the strings to be translated. It compared the current English resource file to the previously translated resource file to capture the resource strings that had been added. Then it compared the strings in the current English resource file to the strings in the previously translated file to see if any of the strings had changed. Then it compared the English files against each of the localized resource files in order to determine which strings needed to be added, deleted or modified for each language.

The diff files containing the new and modified strings were sent out for translation. The agency translators used translation memory from previous assignments to translate the strings. After delivery, the translation tool integrated the newly translated diffs into the existing translated resource files.

localization software

Lowering translation costs

While this tool worked well from a technical perspective, the turnaround for agency translations was often slow, or at least too slow for some of our customers. Each translation job required a quote, and each quote required approval. The lag between initial quote request and delivered translations could sometimes exceed eight business days, even for a relatively small translation job.

Delays such as this and the relatively high cost of agency translations did not escape the attention of upper management. One of the conditions of profit maximization is cost minimization and the CFOs of startup companies are acutely aware of this. The end result for localization was constant pressure to lower translation costs.

One of the more interesting attempts at doing this involved the creation of a localization group based in India. The startup, which had by then become profitable, bought a small Indian company that had useful industry data. The CEO of this company had on occasion hired locally based translators for short-term assignments. He suggested that we do the same.

I hesitated at first, knowing from experience how complicated it was to translate the user interface and online help. At the insistence of upper management, however, I slowly assembled a team of translators. This team consisted mostly of expatriates who were living in India for various reasons.

Since these recruits were largely new to professional translation, we organized training for them both on our software products and on the various tools that we used in-house. While few had had previous exposure to software development, most were able to learn enough to adapt to the demands of the job.

After the initial ramp up, we were able to lower translation costs and speed up translation turnaround. This was possible because the translation memories built up from earlier rounds of translation enabled the team to leverage existing translations when formulating new ones. This strategy worked especially well when the remote translators worked on software updates.

The takeaway

If you should find yourself responsible for localization in a startup company, there are four things that you are likely to encounter:

  • A lack of knowledge of internationalization
  • Coding lapses on the part of the development team
  • Customer concerns such as complaints about translated strings
  • A persistent demand to lower translation costs

To deal with these issues, it would be best to employ the following strategies:

  • Explain whatever needs explaining to whomever
  • Remind development managers to enforce internationalization coding standards
  • Remember that the customer is king
  • Defend the need for quality translation but be open to new approaches, whether technological or labor-related
  • Have fun — so many people would relish the chance to do what you do
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Kevin Donovan has worked in localization for over 15 years. He has managed translation teams working on healthcare and business (B2B) software. He has also written articles for the Wall Street Journal and Computer Graphics World.

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Translation chatbots and the US election

Localization Technology, Multimedia Translation

The Dallas News reported that TV ads in Spanish are targeting Latino voters in this year’s tight midterm races. However, results are “mixed.”

“TV ads on their own are not enough to attract Latino voters. Instead, grass-roots engagement early will be more effective to reach those who do not typically vote in midterm elections,” Jenny Manrique’s article stated.

With political campaigns suggesting that texting young voters can be an effective method for getting the vote out, translation chatbots may actually play a role in this year’s elections. Not because the chatbots themselves are sending messages… people don’t mind real political texts in some circumstances, but they may dislike getting political spam from bots. Potentially, however, having a translation bot aid a real human interaction is a little different. And for the first time in any election, Facebook Messenger is now providing the opportunity for people to have Spanish-English messages automatically translated.

It’s anticipated that 80% of all businesses will use chatbots by 2020. They are now available on almost every platform, and are more intuitive than ever. Nonprofits use them as well, including to interact with voters in Spanish on voter ID laws.

Even though some of the biggest chatbots, like Siri and Alexa, are relatively new, this technology actually dates back to the mid 20th century.

In 1950, Alan Touring theorized that an intelligent machine would be indistinguishable from a human in a text-only conversation. In 1966, MIT Professor, Joseph Weizenbaum invented Eliza, the world’s first chatterbot, which imitated the language of a therapist using only 200 lines of code.

Chatbots have come a long way since then. However, still in its infancy is the translation bot. For a translation bot to be 100% accurate, it must identify innuendos, syntax, grammar and inflection. For this reason, Facebook announced its first translation bot only this year, and it has rolled out only one language pair: English-Spanish, which it’s offering on Messenger to US users.  

Translation bots are not quite there yet. But they are ever improving. This infographic explains where translation bots started and where they are today.

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Rilind Elezaj is an experienced digital marketing specialist in the marketing and advertising industry. He integrates web development and other digital marketing solutions to create hybrid strategies.

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Multimedia synonyms explored

Multimedia Translation, Translation, Travel and Culture

We regularly feature one free article for every printed issue we do, and this time, we chose Jeff Edward’s article on Cherokee and technology. The publicly-available link is now live.

This issue, we have an additional free article because one of our regular columns — Terminology Glosses — is here online rather than in the print magazine. For all the rest, our issue on multimedia has shipped from the printer and is on its way to our subscribers — or you can access it via the web here.

Terminology Glosses

surtitle and supertitle

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to go to the Opera house in Nice, France for the first time. I saw L’elixir d’amour (L’elisir d’amore), an operetta in Italian by Gaetano Donizetti. The efficient little theater had a screen in place above the stage, with French subtitles running for the entire length of the performance. I could hear the opera singers sing in Italian and, at the same time, I could read the French version on screen. Because the memories of that evening in Nice are so vivid in my mind, the term I am adding to our ideal termbase today is surtitle.

A lot has happened in translation in the last few years, including significant advances in multimedia translation. A quick search resulted in a whole list of neologisms corresponding to new techniques and approaches in translation. The term surtitle in particular is a neo-formation (from Latin prefix super via the French sur and titulum, also from Latin) coined following the same pattern as its cognate word subtitle. The concept of surtitle is defined as a translation in “one continuous line displayed with no interruption” (from Wikipedia). This new term is now codified in the language with others like free commentary, partial dubbing, narration, live subtitling, audio description, double version and more solidly established words in the multimedia language, such as voiceover or dubbing.

Following the same prefixation path, the English language also coined the word supertitle, always from Latin roots super and titulum. From a terminology management perspective, surtitle and supertitle are synonyms and both are actively used in the language. Time will tell us if both survive and how each of them further specializes or retires. For the time being, though, both have their place in our ideal termbase.

Synonymy is dealt with quite successfully in terminology management thanks to concept orientation, which is defined in ISO standards 16642, 30042 and 26162. Any terminological entry represents one concept. All the terms that express a concept are included in the same entry. Synonyms, abbreviations, other variants and translation equivalents, which are all representations of the same concept, are all included in the same entry. At the level of termbase design, the concept level nests the language level which, in turn, regroups the terms. Each of these sections is repeatable and searchable. In this way, no doublettes are created in the termbase and each language can be used as the source language. Here is how our synonyms might look in a terminological entry:

Definition: A translation in one continuous line displayed with no interruption on a screen that is often positioned above a stage.

English: surtitle

Part of speech: noun

Term type: full form

Usage status: preferred

Process status: approved

English: supertitle

Part of speech: noun

Term type: full form

Usage status: deprecated

Process status: approved

Besides providing a solid and manageable framework to our termbase, concept orientation is also necessary for controlled authoring, where terms are flagged as approved, admitted, deprecated and so on in dedicated software. The violation of the concept orientation principle creates confusion and redundancy in the termbase and does not work in favor of consistent and seamless integration with other tools.

In Nice, as I was watching the singers moving on stage, I was also following the surtitles. I sometimes got the feeling that some verses — at times long verses — were left out. However, the ambience and the rendering on stage completely balanced any potential shortcoming of the translation. In an article called “How Opera Challenges Translators” by Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times points out that in surtitles “translations can be as literal or free as the translator wants. But of necessity the lines are cut to the essentials, so as not to distract the audience’s attention from what is happening onstage. Titles are distracting, of course, but most operagoers find the tradeoff worth it.”

Translators are constantly making choices and strive to find the right balance in the rendering of a text. The multimedia factor adds an extra layer of complexity. Click To Tweet

Translators are constantly making choices and strive to find the right balance in the rendering of a text. The multimedia factor adds an extra layer of complexity. By going beyond the written and spoken word, multimedia create meanings that involve the senses and a complex interrelation of communicative elements. At their extreme, figurative expressions superimpose on figurative language; think for instance of visual puns, visual metaphors, visual transitions, and other dynamics used in the figurative arts that are as important as the actual textual narration.

A question also came to mind: who translates librettos? What are the best practices in the field? Who prepares translators for the task? The ATA Chronicle recently published a very insightful interview with Ronnie Apter and Mark Herman, “Translators and Librettists” on the art of translating librettos and the skills that are required to perform the task successfully. Competence in the source language is not necessarily ranked first!

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Laura Di Tullio is a terminology management consultant who has developed termbases and managed enterprise terminology for large multinationals. She has been in the localization industry for over 20 years, holds an MA in terminology management and a degree in translation studies.

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