"We need to increase our sales."
"We want to be more visible on the Internet."
"Our company wants to target new markets."
Over the years of our busy existence in the translation industry, we have heard such statements countless times when approached about website localization.
We have localized an abundance of websites from different branches, industries, and countries. Each translated website was a new lesson in terms of gaining experience as well as learning that a service that is ordered by a client is actually not just about translation, localization, testing, etc. It is about creating the perfect tool for their global expansion.
This article will list and describe the most common aspects and questions related to creating a multilingual website that really serves its purpose: driving your international business growth.
Not everyone. You just don't see the companies that don't have Internet websites. You only see the websites of companies that chose to have one.
Modern websites are nothing like websites from 20 years ago. Their resolution is higher, graphic design is more attractive, there are different language versions, fancy buttons, etc.
Also, the fact that the website displays well on cell phones and tablets doesn't surprise anybody these days. Actually, it is something that we expect – all in all, we have Internet browsers in our portable devices. And if a webpage or a website doesn't open on a desired device, you will just look for the one that does.
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Although the technological advancement of modern websites is not the topic of this article, it should be stressed that they are in fact very advanced.
You have a website? Good for you!
Having a website means that your company has identified the potential of Internet in terms of marketing or sales. Let it be said, nobody invests in a website just to spend money or just for fun. There is always a specific goal behind it.
As stated above, you know best. Otherwise, you would not have created your website. However, it may be assumed that the ultimate goal of any website is to show its content to users.
The reasons for this are as numerous as the number of websites themselves – information, sales-related, marketing, etc. Not to mention the whole range of blogs and forums.
A website is simply a reflection of its owner’s need to.:
• attract new customers,
• increase awareness,
• increase sales,
• sell products or services,
• discuss specific topics, etc.
It is important to prepare your website to serve your goal – both in terms of technology and content.
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The answer to this question is far more complicated, although, again, it depends on your ultimate goal. When it comes to creating a website, the goal is usually to attract more customers.
When creating a multilingual website, the goal is to attract more international customers. It is helpful to know the aspects of making your website work for you in order to fulfill your goals.
In order for the audience to find your website, it needs to be visible.
For this you need to apply a rather sophisticated mechanism called SEO, or pay for online advertising. This is where the technological advancement mentioned before comes in to play.
If you want your website to be visible to users, it needs to be really well designed. Or at least better than other websites. This is where the competition begins.
In terms of Internet, visibility can be explained as a rank in Search Results for a given keyword or phrase. It is rather obvious that there is a multiplicity of websites that want to be optimally visible on Internet. But how do you determine which one is the most effective?
These days, you have numerous paid and free tools that analyze your website, as well as those of your competitors, in order to establish what needs to be done to make your website perform better. Everything you can do to enhance your website results can be stated in three (not so simple) words:
Search Engine Optimization – is a set of mechanisms developed with one goal in mind – ranking websites in terms of relevance, technological advancement, and quality of content.
To make a long story short, the aim of SEO is to prepare a website that is so good that the search engines will say Wow!.
The World Wide Web is constantly combed by search engine bots that scan website after website, remembering its contents and structure, ranking them in terms of relevance and quality of content.
Search Results do not appear out of thin air, it is a carefully prepared list.
There is a certain way of constructing a website that convinces the crawlers to prioritize it over the countless other websites.
As mentioned above, the highest places in the search results are reserved for websites offering the best quality content. They need to be created using the newest technologies, be responsive (i.e. correct display on all kinds of screens, including portable devices), offer accessibility features, and so on.
In terms of content, the website has to be as relevant as possible to a given search phrase or keyword.
And there is also the structure. To make your website visible, it has to:
To sum it up, to be successful, your website has to be well structured, cutting edge, fast, locale-oriented, full of well-organized high-quality content, and pretty. Is it? If not, it is best to leave it to the pros. Remember that your competition does (or have already done!) the same with their websites.
Why would a localization company write an article about SEO?
This is because, as with everything that originates with a source content, the quality of the source (original) determines the quality of the target (translation/interpretation).
The first thing you can do with your website is to thoroughly prepare it. Then, it will become a good foundation for your next step.
Of course, SEO is not a must for everyone. Depending upon your needs, the only thing you may require is a localized (translated) version of the website, for example, to simply show it to clients. In this case, being on the first page of search results is not an imperative for you.
However, if you decide that as in your original website version, it is important to optimize your website for search engines in the languages you translate into, it is good to know how to handle that.
It may be safe to assume that at some point, thinking about expanding your services abroad at least crossed your mind. Translating your website seems to be the most logical thing to do, right?
After all, you will start targeting clients that do not speak your website's language.
Localization is what many people mean when saying that they want to translate their website, software, documentation, etc. The difference between translation and localization is fundamental.
Unlike translation, which is simply a process of rendering text from one language into another while keeping the equivalent meaning, localization is far more comprehensive.
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It can be described as translation while addressing cultural, non-cultural, and linguistic factors. Basically, localization means preparing a product for a target market, as if it had been created in the target language.
Localization itself is a part of a bigger concept called internationalization, which means that an original product is prepared with localization in mind.
Website localization is a demanding task requiring experienced resources and at least two localization steps: translation and revision.
The translator conveys the source (i.e. original) text into the target text (translation) while adapting it to the needs of the target audience. Once that is done, the translated text is revised, which means that it is checked by a second language professional for any possible errors, in form or linguistic.
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Preferably, a third step – proofreading – is recommended. Proofreading focuses mainly on the coherence of the target text as well as its language and style.
When selecting a localization service provider, it is recommended to ask for a Quality Certificate, such as ISO 17100-2005. A certified quality management requires your vendor to apply reasonable quality control measures.
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The minimal Quality Assurance (QA) requirements cover mandatory manual and automatic QA checks to be performed after each step of the process (translation, revision, proofreading (if applicable)), as well as when a project manager receives the revised/proofread version of the product.
Some language service providers (LSP) go beyond that and fine tune the built-in QA modules of their translation software (Computer-Assisted Translation, CAT tools) by writing their own verifications, or even create verifications meeting the specific needs of particular clients. This is the kind of a localization company that you want to work with.
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Of course, depending on the situation there may be a need to prepare the files first, so some file engineering may be needed to extract the content from the code. The best thing you can do is to provide your translation agency with a sample file to be checked and tested. They will know what to do with it.
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Once your website is localized, it will be useful for your target audience. A localized version of a website may be pretty visible on Internet as long as its quality is good and there are no better, optimized websites in the target locale.
This is the place where the fun begins – SEO localization requires a good initial SEO. That means that without an SEO-optimized original website, the localized version, even when it's SEO-optimized, may be useless. And SEO localization is not a cheap service. As with SEO, it has to be a well-analyzed and well-prepared investment.
From the process perspective, SEO localization may resemble localization, but with more steps involved.
First of all, you need to furnish a list of keywords to your SEO localization provider. Assuming that your base website has been SEO-optimized, you already have those. If it was not optimized, well, start with SEO.
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Keywords will need to be SEO-optimized for a target locale. Should you happen to have already completed that step using other resources (creative agency, your own SEO specialists), that's great.
Secondly, both translation and localization steps are to be performed by SEO-experienced language professionals, preferably target language (even dialect) native speakers. They will stick to the keywords at 100% and not stray from the provided list.
SEO localization is very creative work. It requires a lot of wordplay as well as perfect knowledge of the target locale. If proofreading is to be done, it has to be performed by an experienced target-language native SEO specialist.
Thirdly, an SEO audit has to be performed after the last localization step (revision or proofreading). An SEO audit means that the SEO specialist checks the website using dedicated tools to detect all areas that may require fine tuning in terms of boosting the visibility of a website in the new target locale. As soon as the SEO audit results are satisfactory, the SEO localized website may be launched.
And then you wait.
As explained above, in order for the website to be ranked on the first page of search results, it has to be crawled and indexed. Usually, it takes at least 3 months for a website to start showing results.
Your website is a reflection of your business needs, of course. However, bear in mind that in terms of expanding your business overseas, it is recommended that you seek professional advice. For SEO or website creation, you may hire a creative agency or an internal team (that you may already have).
Once your website is ready to conquer the world, discuss your needs with your localization partner. It may turn out that your website does not need SEO, nor SEO localization, to be useful for you. Many companies invest in localization only, which is a good investment as well.
Define your needs, check whether your localization company can meet those needs, and leave it to the pros. Create a multilingual website that will help you get ahead of your competition on the global market before it's too late.
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