Website Localization: How To Get It Right

You run a business. It has an top notch website, which brings in lots of clients. What else might one wish for? And yet, you realize there is potential for something greater, since your products or services may be of interest to people from other countries. Reaching them would take you to the next level. But here’s the deal: web expansion is not a piece of cake.

Do You Speak English?

Many companies just translate their websites into English and think the game is in the bag.

Isn’t it? Well, not anymore. In recent years, there has been a strong trend towards linguistic diversification of the web. For instance, now we have Cyrillic domains, which means English can no longer reign supreme.

Furthermore, the most convenient language is not entirely universal: e.g. among a huge number of Asian countries only two – Malaysia and Singapore – demonstrate high proficiency in English. Europe also has its “blank spots”: Spaniards, Italians, Frenchmen, Russians and Ukrainians are rather bad at this language.

Plus, even if your potential clients abroad do speak English, they will likely miss about 65% of information. According to researches, people usually read up to half a content written in their mother tongue. The result for non-native websites is much lower – only 36%. That is a huge difference in both traffic and prospective profit.

Lost In Translation

Of course, you cannot shift your website into all the world’s languages. Luckily, there is a better solution. Just hire a company that will analyze the market and define countries of the highest priority.

With that list, you can effectively localize the website. Keep in mind that, despite common belief, this process goes far beyond mere translation. To “hook” your target audience, the website has to be adjusted to its culture, which includes specific humor, etiquette, slang, etc.

Otherwise there will be “epic fails” and disappointments. Ask Ford, if you don’t trust us. When the American car manufacturer tried to launch their new model Pinto in Brazil it was met with mockery. Why? Because in Brazilian Portuguese pinto is often referred to a man with tiny genitalia. Ford was forced to change the name to Corcel, which stands for “a stallion”. Obvious compensation.

The Swedish vacuum company Electrolux made a similar mistake in the American market. Their catch phrase “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux” has put an end to all hopes for launching in U.S. In case you don’t know, “sucks” is a general term describing something annoying, unworthy or bad.

A competent team of localizers will help you avoid such missteps. In addition to mentality, they are sure to take care of:

  • vocabulary (e.g., Brittish gasoline vs American fuel);
  • idioms, greetings and addressing forms;
  • dates (DD/MM/YYYY or MM/DD/YYYY);
  • pricing;
  • calendar (depending on local standards, the week may begin on Sunday, Monday or Friday);
  • measurements (not all countries use the metric system);
  • SEO (popular queries and search engines vary, since some regions prefer Yandex and Baidu to the mighty Google);
  • regulations (privacy, terms and conditions, taxes, etc.);
  • hidden pages, which boost the site’s ranking.

Each of these aspects is vital for expanding your business, and none of them can be covered by machine or literary translation. That’s why you should consider localization.

Need a deeper insight into the subject? Feel free to contact us. Let’s strengthen your brand globally!

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