Tag: website localization

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Website localization basics and a Jooble case study

Localization Basics

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

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

The intricacies of going global

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The challenges of localization

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

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

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

Website localization: A step-by-step checklist

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

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

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

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

Use automation — a lot!

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

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

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

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

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

A quick case study: localization of Jooble portal

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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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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