Localizing your website and SEO helps you target a specific market by adapting your website to its culture and language. Understand the steps to plan, implement, and automate this process.
Website localization involves adjusting your website to cater to the language and culture of users in a specific market. Research indicates that 65% of consumers prefer content in their language, regardless of its quality. Users lean towards and purchase from websites communicating with them in their native language.
Language is a powerful force.
A famous philosopher once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
Speaking to your target market in their native tongue is one fundamental way to appeal to them.
Yet, rolling out a multilingual website and localizing your SEO involves more than just translating your content word-for-word. You must also consider cultural differences, legal requirements, purchasing habits, and payment methods, among other crucial factors.
Suppose you are searching for the most effective approach to localizing your website and SEO strategies. In that case, I’m here to share the most essential website localization steps to consider.
These tips will guide you with best practices for avoiding typical localization errors, promptly launching your multilingual website, and providing international users with an exceptional user experience. Don't worry if you feel overwhelmed by the task. Localizing your website and SEO does not have to be a nightmare.
Let’s go through the steps, shall we?
1. Localizing Website: Plan With The End In Mind
Over 5 billion people use the internet daily, mainly from Asia, America, and Europe. Estimates suggest retail eCommerce trade volume could reach $7.391 trillion by 2025. That's a promising market opportunity. Limiting sales to a single market means leaving money on the table. If you plan to go global someday, consider international sales from the outset.
So when designing or updating a website, it's essential to consider website localization, as that'll help you save time and money in the long run. It's critical to think beyond your initial market.
Just like a seed can grow into a mighty oak tree, even a local or small business has the potential to expand globally. In today's digital marketplace, every eCommerce business has the potential to scale up and become a worldwide success --it doesn't matter whether you sell software or apparel.
Having that frame of mind and creating an SEO localization strategy from the beginning gives you a clear understanding of your objectives, a practical growth plan, and a significant competitive edge.
To develop a successful localized SEO strategy, below are some vital elements to consider.
Can you transfer your product or service to other cultures or markets without substantial modification?
What would you look like in the new market if you were to go global?
Do you plan to adjust your pricing model for various regions or maintain a single strategy?
What does your ideal target market look like regarding languages, cultures, and demographics?
When would you like to start expanding and operating in new markets?
What is your budget for translation, layout modifications, and other required changes? Can you handle a complete localization project internally, or do you need to contract it?
Who are the staff members currently available in your company to assist with the localization process?
Which tools and methods would be most suitable for achieving your business objectives, utilizing your resources, and adhering to your timeline?
2. Research Your Target Market
Being omnipresent is an effective way to attract new buyers and generate leads worldwide. But without a solid localization strategy that includes understanding your target markets, your success will be short-lived.
For example, if your customer base is primarily in one or two countries, localizing your website in over 1,000 languages yields little results.
Identify your target market and where your product will be most successful. Prioritize those areas first and keep in mind that new opportunities may arise. Even large international corporations, such as McDonald's, have had to close stores in certain countries due to a lack of demand or an inability to comply with regulations.
Once you have identified your target markets, conduct in-depth research to understand customers' needs and preferences in each region. Avoid using generic data for an entire continent, as different countries have distinct cultures and languages. Track your international buyer personas through specific market research for each geographic region. That includes analyzing and assessing demand for your product or service.
Ask yourself these questions for each target market:
Are there potential customers for our product in this particular market?
Is the market growing to sustain demand, and at what rate is it growing?
What is the level of competition we'll likely face?
Do the locals have the strong purchasing power to afford our product?
What do they take into consideration when buying?
What will be the cost of transportation (if applicable) and customer support?
What is the cost of website localization in comparison to the potential of the market?
As a company, you want to reach as many prospects as possible without blowing your marketing budget. Evaluate all marketing and financial factors before deciding which markets to target.
For instance, India may seem like a lucrative market with its many internet users, but if your product violates their strict laws, you may not have a chance to sell it. Therefore, it's vital to consider all relevant indicators before making any decisions.
3. Get Your Human Resource Together
As previously noted, localizing your website and adjusting your SEO strategies to fit the local search trends requires a team effort. Just one person cannot do it.
Localizing content is challenging. You need input from various groups, including managers, developers, designers, linguists, marketers, content writers, and QA engineers.
The first step to getting it right is to organize your team to ensure timely and high-quality website localization outcomes. And assign specific tasks to them to avoid conflicts between stakeholders.
Though budget constraints may limit the size of your team, you must have members who understand your target market and what motivates them.
Your team should help you overcome cultural and linguistic barriers between domestic and international customers. These are the essential groups that can provide you with the utmost support:
A content localization manager or translation project manager; responsible for assigning tasks and ensuring the team is on track.
Software developers responsible for website architecture.
UX/UI designers to finetune visuals, mockups, or website layouts according to audience preferences.
Proficient native translators for content translation and adapting your messaging to local contexts.
Eagle-eyed QA professionals to identify and report any bugs or glitches and maintain established roadmaps.
SEO copywriters to localize SEO strategies to users searching for local businesses and services in their area.
A dedicated local support team that handles customer inquiries, online reviews, and other customer service concerns.
4. Design For Local Search Experience
The next step in your localization process is to conduct keyword research. Identify the specific terms and phrases the target market uses when searching for similar products or services.
Use those terms and phrases on your localized website to increase your website's visibility in relevant searches. By implementing multilingual SEO techniques, you can reach a wider audience, improve your search engine rankings, and reduce advertising costs.
Note: translating your home market keywords is not enough. When doing keyword research, do your best to discover how people in the target market discuss products or services in your vertical.
Similar to how British and American English use different words to describe the same thing, such as football and soccer, other languages have regional differences. Without proper keyword research, even the best content may not succeed if the target audience can't find it.
You can hire a marketer who speaks your target language or appoint a team of SEO-specialized translators and content writers.
With the right combination of market knowledge, SEO expertise, purpose-built tools, and language skills, you'll uncover the best local terms to optimize your content. That will help you reach your target audience more effectively.
Note the difference between the website layouts of Adidas in Japan and the US
5. Optimize Your Onsite Search
Site search is a website feature that lets users search for specific info or products within the site.
A search box allows input of keywords or phrases, and the search engine retrieves relevant results in a list format. Intelligent site search tools like HeyDay enriches your visitor's user experience and facilitates more straightforward navigation through the site's content.
That's vital for any website with meaningful content or products.
Optimizing onsite search lets visitors easily and quickly find the information they need, increasing your conversion rates and customer satisfaction. The autocomplete, faceted search and error-handling features help users to engage with your website meaningfully.
Here are some notable use case examples:
HeyDay uses data on how local buyers search for products or services on your website to enhance your search algorithm, resulting in more relevant search results for your customers.
As users type in the search box, the autocomplete feature suggests popular search terms to help guide them in finding local items and enhance their overall search experience. Moreover, it provides relevant suggestions based on input, thus refining search queries.
Buyers can use location-based search filters to narrow down search results based on their location, whether it's their city, state, or ZIP code, helping them find products or services within their local area.
Faceted search allows users to filter their search results by categories or attributes, making finding what they're looking for easier. This feature benefits local buyers who want to narrow their options quickly. Common facets include price range, brand, size, color, and other relevant specifications.
6. Decouple Your Translatable Content From the Source Code
Internationalizing a website (i18n) refers to creating and designing a software product adaptable to users of different cultures and languages. The goal i18n is to prepare your website for localization. More precisely, it guarantees that the code is structured so you can translate the website content into multiple languages without encountering technical difficulties.
Decoupling the content you plan to translate from the source code is essential when you make your website available in multiple languages. Storing language-specific information in separate files allows easy modification of a website's language without changing the code.
Follow the design best practices below to make your website ready for internationalization:
Encode your website content in Unicode (UTF-8) to support special characters in all languages.
Eliminate obstacles to localization by making sure that resizing text does not impact the overall design.
Use predefined localization data and features such as date, time, number formats, and currency symbols.
Make UI assets like images load without separate asset files for each local app version.
Internationalization enables launching your website in any market without starting over, like designing a house for every season.
7. Localize User Experience
The success of your product depends on having a great user experience (UX) since it affects customer satisfaction, conversion rates, and sales. Consider how your website localization project may impact the UX.
Consider the design of your UI elements, such as buttons and menus. Internationalization efforts should have ensured ample space for longer text in other languages. Craft your UI's overall design is user-friendly for people in different countries.
You may have to adjust the page layout, choose appropriate color schemes, use culturally relevant images, or revamp the UI for specific markets.
Consider your prospects' internet usage and their connection speed. For markets with slower internet connections and low-end devices, it's best to simplify your UI design, such as using fewer images, to ensure a smoother and faster loading experience.
In summary, localizing your UX and UI makes your website user-friendly, enjoyable, and personalized to the needs and preferences of your users.
After completing the abovementioned tasks, conduct comprehensive testing for precise content translation, proper user interface functionality, and technical SEO problems. Localization testing involves verifying both functional and linguistic accuracy.
Once your product or service is ready to launch, the next step is to begin shouting about it from the rooftop. Tell your audience about your work and how your website can help them. That's where marketing localization becomes crucial.
If a tree falls in the wilderness and no one can hear its sound, does it still make any sound? Without marketing, you might as well bury your website under a rock.
By following these tips, you can effectively communicate with your customers in their preferred language, strengthening your relationship with them and expanding your customer base.
About the Author
Tom-Chris Emewulu is HeyDay’s Digital Evangelist. With 8+ years of digital marketing and business development experience, he crafts high-intent, high-converting, data-driven SEO articles that put brands on page 1 of Google search. Forbes, DW, Business Insider, Businessss2Community, and many other publications have featured his works. You can find him on Social Media via @tomchrisemewulu.