Feb 13 2012

Website Localization: Achieving Global Online Success

Category: local search marketingTom Shivers


By its global nature, the Internet provides an easy point of access to consumers worldwide. Many companies online have used the Internet’s reach to target foreign markets and have achieved international success. The opportunities that are available to companies online on a global scale are abundant, but challenges exist in successfully penetrating foreign markets. The primary challenge is that of localization, the process through which content is translated and made relevant for an audience encompassing cultural, social and legal norms.

A recent report found that 90% of web users prefer to conduct searches in their own language, making localized content ever more pertinent. Successful localization is very effective in turning websites’ visitors into customers and, thus, has become one of the digital marketing trends to watch in this New Year.

There a number of things to consider when localizing a website. These considerations can be broadly categorised in the following ways:

Local Domain

Web users are more likely to visit and buy a product or service from a website which is in their country-code top-level domains (ccTLD), for example, .co.uk, .fr, .de. It is recommended that a ccTLD is used for foreign market website portals.

Textual Content

Primarily, the textual content of the website has to be provided in the language of the target market, and the content has to be relevant to the audience. Use of colloquial, culturally-relevant terms will generally have a more positive effect on local users. Similarly, the text has to be compliant with local market regulations and standards.

Visual Content

Image selection for a localized website has to conform to cultural norms within the target market and have relevance to a local audience. Colourful images are preferred in Asian countries. In conservative regions like the Middle East, images without people are more suitable.

Website Structure

As some languages are written in right-to-left format, a website’s global templates have to be adjusted to support bi-directional scripts. Even without a difference in script direction, the website should be stylistically consistent with design standards of a market or region. For example, in Far East Asia, websites are very text and image heavy whereas in North America and Europe there’s a trend towards simple, clean design.

Once a website has been localized, the process of marketing and promotion must begin to increase visibility and brand awareness. Even for this process, a localized approach to SEO, social media and internet marketing is required to attract local visitor traffic before a company can be successful in a foreign market.

Talha Fazlani overlooks online marketing for Language Connect, a translation, localization and multilingual digital marketing agency. Language Connect is one of the fastest growing translation agencies and has a growing global presence.

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