It takes about min. to read the article.
Why Website Localization is Important?
Most users prefer websites in their native language. For example, most Russian users will buy an item or service offered on a Russian version of a website. Many users simply don't speak English, Spanish, Chinese, etc. although many interesting offers can be found in these markets.
Moreover, language of the website is one of the main ranking factors for search engines. Any search engine will recognize the language on pages of your website even if it's a low quality translation. Nevertheless the influence of website localization on SEO is not that easy – localization is not just a simple translation of the website.
Your website should be understandable to users. The better the translation, the higher the conversion, increased time presence on your website, visit depth, etc. Those two last factors depend indirectly on Google ranking as well as conversion which is always the objective of any business. But most companies make the same mistakes when reaching out to new markets.
When a new company tries to reach new markets, it usually doesn't have an unlimited budget. That's why they search for cheap website translation services. We are not talking about machine translation, which will have a negative effect on SEO as well as on conversions.
Unfortunately, most likely they will have to re-translate their content in the future, because the low-quality translation (with spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes) will affect the conversions of the target market.
The solution is to find a good translation agency which offers website translation services that already include not just translation, but editing and proofreading as well. The range for this kind of service can vary from $0.02 to $0.2 per word. The quality depends directly on the price.
Even grammatically correct text may not provide good results because of cultural differences in different countries. It's important to re-write slogans, call-to-actions, titles and similar content according to the country where you are going to localize your website.
Recommendation – when you prepare your website for localization, contact native-speakers to choose the right direction for the project.
Another important aspect is usability – forms and fields on your website where users fill in their personal information need to be adapted. Different countries have different rules for word order in writing addresses and dates. Before marketing products and services in a new country, check in which order country, street and ZIP code should be mentioned. Also check on the standard format for dates, for example in Russia the accepted format is date/month/year.
You should also pay attention to the time zone of the target country, for example to ensure your customer support will be available.
Remember – the most widespread mistake in localization is when it's impossible to choose the preferred payment method. And that issue is a guaranteed killer of the conversion.
Recommendation – before localization you should study particularities of the target country and compose a list of necessary changes.
Localization of your SEO-strategy
SEO localization is not just an on-page optimization. You should always remember that Google algorithms work differently in USA, Great Britain, Europe, Japan and Russia and it reflects on search results.
Moreover, if your target market is Russia, you should take into account Yandex with its requirements and algorithms.
Every language has its average word length. The same sentence can appear in a different area of the website depending on the target language. There are also so called “lexical gaps” when words from the source language don’t have an equivalent in the target language so the translator needs to add an explanation. All those translation nuances will absolutely impact website design.
Screens, pictures, video and audio should be localized for the target market. Sometimes local traditions could influence your website more than you can imagine. So it's very important to design any website materials based on the way of thinking and psychology of end users.
All texts should be adapted for the target market. The best solution – is to prepare and give all texts to native speakers for linguistic adaptation (not translation). They will re-write the text according to the cultural specifications of the target country. Should they use “Miss” or “Sir”, how better to explain call-to-action, what description of goods is specific to online-shops of the country, should local jokes be used, etc.
Why is it best to entrust the website localization services to native-speakers?
Here are some examples.
Auto giant Chevrolet decided to present a new car model to the Latin market. However Chevrolet Nova didn't have much success among Latin Americans for one basic reason: in Spanish “No va” means “Doesn't move”.
The Coca-Cola brand couldn't win over the Chinese market because its brand was translated as “bite tadpole” or “wax horse” depending on dialect.
American Airlines was faced with another translation fail. Its slogan “Fly in Leather” was translated into Spanish word by word and meant “Fly naked”.