Multimedia Translation


Newly-Founded Entertainment Globalization Association Shares Strategy

Multimedia Translation

The newly-minted Entertainment Globalization Association (EGA), just created last week, has set its sights on publicizing the role of localization in the entertainment industry.

The goal is to create “better awareness that this industry even exists,” with people who are “creating the original IP,” said Chris Fetner, who is heading up the organization as managing director. For example, writers and directors may know that translation and globalization happen; that movies get dubbed in some markets, but for the most part, said Fetner, the effect is like a duck seeming to glide effortlessly over the surface of the water. Nobody sees the legs kicking furiously under the surface to propel the duck forward. Fetner said he thinks directors would likely be shocked if they knew how little time voice actors in dubbing studios were given with scripts, for instance.

“For a long time, [localization has] been treated like a utility, and it’s done it a disservice as an art form,” said Fetner. EGA’s goal is to ensure faithful representation in whatever language a film is translated into — and this might mean a little more time than the localization providers are currently given.

EGA has already gathered 70 member companies, having added ten since its inception a few days ago. When Fetner asks people what they’d like to see from EGA, “what they ask for more than anything is having another week, having a better opportunity to provide good quality,” said Fetner. “It really is an industry of people who love what they do,” and above all, they want to create good output.

EGA has ten founding members: Audiomaster Candiani, Deluxe, Hiventy, Iyuno Media Group, Plint, SDI Media, Visual Data Media Services, VSI, ZOO Digital, and Keywords Studios. With the exception of video games specialist Keywords Studios, all the founding companies participate in entertainment localization.

Fetner himself has worked in the entertainment industry for 25 years on the client side. His foray into localization began at Discovery, when he was involved in localizing content from US English into UK English. Then, at BBC Studios, he worked on projects localized into Latin American Spanish. But it wasn’t until he joined Netflix and headed up their localization vendor strategy that he understood the full breadth of the industry, he said.

When Fetner left Netflix this fall, he reached out to the vendors he’d worked with, and they expressed regret they would no longer be working together. Some asked if he’d do consulting. Fetner said he told them, “if you feel like there’s work to be, let’s all work together with everybody,” and from these conversations, the EGA was conceived. It was “spearheaded by the founding companies,” who were asking “what would it look like if everyone worked together in the industry,” said Fetner. Additionally, with Fetner available, they had a managing director who was willing to work on the issues.

Fetner has plans to reach out to writer’s and director’s guilds, as well as similar organizations, in an effort to “add value” by inviting them to work more directly with localization.

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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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Weymouth Public School Meetings Now with CC Translation

Multimedia Translation

In response to demand for translation of the meetings, the school district will now work with the Weymouth Educational Telecommunications Corporation to bring multilingual closed-captioning to meeting recordings.

A school district in Massachusetts has launched a closed-captioning translation pilot program for school committee meeting recordings. This week, Weymouth School District’s School committee chair Lisa Belmarsh and superintendent Jennifer Curtis-Whipple announced that Weymouth Public Schools struck a partnership with the Weymouth Educational Telecommunications Corporation (WETC) to implement the program for all future meetings.

The program comes in response to the pandemic, as well as in connection with the Return to School Racial Equity Subcommittee. As part of the program, School Committee meetings will provide closed captioning in English for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing, though the announcement did not mention use of any Sign Language like ASL. The meetings will also provide a translation of the meeting in Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic — the school district’s most common non-English languages — within 24 hours of the meeting, with the hope to expand access to community members so that students and parents can receive and understand information shared by the district.

“It’s essential that parents and guardians receive information from the district so that they can help their children get the right technology, support their child’s school work, have the ability to make informed choices and get the support they need for a successful school year,” said Belmarsh. “To accomplish this, the district identified an increased need to have the information translated so that parents and guardians who do not speak English can access the most current information being shared during our school committee meetings. WETC eagerly stepped up to the request and is an essential partner in this endeavor to make information available to more people within our community.”

WETC had previously offered closed captioning services on local municipal meetings that were recorded and posted onto its website throughout the past year, but has recently shifted also to include translation of captions into additional languages.

“Once the School Committee and Administration voiced the need for a more inclusive way to broadcast and share meetings, WETC wanted to assist in any way possible,” said WETC Director Jeff Cummings. “We are extremely excited to see the positive impact that this pilot program will have on ensuring everyone in the district receives the information they need to succeed.”

Translated meetings will only be available on WETC’s On Demand video player, not on TV broadcast nor as livestream during meetings. The meetings are expected to be viewable with multilingual closed captioning in under 24 hours.

To create closed captioning on the recordings, WETC uses its video server company, Telvue. The Telvue server processes the audio file and the computer then generates the text for the captioning in English. Once the captioning is created in English, the server then transcribes the English captions into the three additional languages. The Portuguese, Spanish, and Arabic translations may be delayed as the English captions are processed first. Additionally, Telvue also offers an English transcript of the recording, which can be found in the lower, right hand corner of the video player.

“In the time of COVID-19, the process of disseminating information to the public in a timely and equitable fashion is as important as ever,” Superintendent Curtis-Whipple said. “To ensure that our students stay up-to-date with important information and understand our new safety protocols, we must be able to share these details with all of our demographics regardless of what language barrier they may have. Adding Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic translations allows us to be more inclusive for non-English speaking, deaf and hard of hearing communities.”

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MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

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Welsh Language Re-included in Council during Pandemic

Multimedia Translation

After facing criticism, the city council in Denbighshire, Wales will now allow Zoom in council meetings to better serve Welsh language speakers with simultaneous translation in meetings.

After failing to provide Welsh interpretation services for meetings throughout the pandemic, a city council in Wales has set plans to reincorporate Welsh translation into future meetings. At the onset of the pandemic, an issue arose around security issues with Zoom, driving the council to use a system that does not support simultaneous translation for meetings. However, the exclusion of Welsh language services drew criticism.

Cllr Mabon ap Gwynfor, chair of the Welsh Language Steering committee on Denbighshire council, commented in a letter to fellow members that language is not a “nicety that could be put aside.” He acknowledged in the letter the unprecedented nature of the pandemic but added that the situation proved Welsh was “not a key consideration” for the council.

“We’ve not had any Welsh translation in any of our meetings since lockdown,” he said. “Other councils have held meetings with translation for many months because, when they looked at the technology and planned for meetings, it was an essential requirement.”

A Denbighshire council spokesman said that due to concerns about security, the meetings had used the in-house video conferencing platform, which lacks the capacity to provide Welsh translation. However, with the many security improvements on Zoom, along with the app’s simultaneous translation capabilities, the council would employ Zoom for all future council meetings.

“The council is integrating Zoom with its existing council chamber conferencing system, which includes simultaneous interpretation and webcasting,” the spokesman said. “Denbighshire’s solution will provide a permanent bilingual, hybrid meeting system that will meet the Welsh Government’s expected legislative changes next year. It is anticipated that the hybrid meetings installation will have been completed in early October and subject to satisfactory testing may be available for conducting bilingual public meetings later in the month.”

Hybrid meetings, where some members attend via video conferencing software and others in person in the council chamber, are currently only legal due to emergency legislation brought in because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many councils are now preparing for a permanent change in legislation next year, which would see local authorities able to hold hybrid gatherings. Some councils believe the move will boost attendance at meetings and increase engagement with the public.

“It seems that here in Denbighshire it was felt that it was either not a consideration when planning for meetings or was deemed nonessential,” said Cllr ap Gwynfor, adding that he is “far more comfortable” expressing himself in Welsh, which is also the first language of his wife and four children too. He added, “It’s the language I dream in, I think in, and live my life through. It’s not acceptable that our language has been dismissed.”

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MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

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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.


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 Replacing “” 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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