Why is website localization important?

In a globalized world, many businesses and brands have ventured into international markets. When it comes to products or services online, many factors should be analyzed when dealing with different countries and cultures. In this blog post, I will talk about the differences between internationalization and location, and what to consider for a successful location.

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Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

Internationalization x Localization

According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) “Internationalization is the design and development of a product, application or document content that enables easy localization for target audiences that vary in culture, region, or language.”
Localization “refers to the adaptation of a product, application or document content to meet the language, cultural and other requirements of a specific target market,” also according to the W3C.
Ideally, internationalization happens as a fundamental step in the design and development process, in preference as a reconsideration that can usually involve uncomfortable and expensive re-engineering.

Benefits of Localization

Everyone profit from proper localization. Not only does it help make the internet a more open and welcoming place, but it offers benefits to you and your site as well. Here are some of the advantages:

  • Target a wider audience – Localization opens your site up to people who would otherwise not be able to use it.
  • Increase your conversions – Users are more likely to convert if your site is in a language they’re fluent.
  • Build trust – As your site visitors have a pleasant experience interacting with your brand, they build a trustworthy relationship with it. The ability for your target audience to have access to content in their native language is fundamental to creating this great experience.
  • Improve SEO – SEO keywords are more competitive in English. In languages other than English, there is significantly less competition, because there is more content in English online. Therefore, if your site is multilingual, you open the door to rank for some of these less competitive keywords in other languages, helping to drive more traffic to your site. If you are ranking well for keywords in different languages, you are also likely to see an increase in Domain Authority (DA), which could help you better rank for a keyword in your national language, thus supporting your SEO efforts even more.

What to consider when localizing a website

So you decided to take your business across borders and enter an international market. Localizing a website goes much more than just translating it in another language. Although that is a vital part of the process, it also involves adjusting your site to another culture. The process of adapting your brand’s identity and message for different cultures and audiences is essential as different groups react differently to various symbols, messages, and even colors. Here are some basic elements you should consider, besides language:

  • Numbers, date information and time formats
  • Currency
  • Symbols and  icons
  • Colors
  • Graphics containing references to objects, actions or ideas. Fun fact: did you know that the “o.k.” symbol in Brazil is an obscene gesture? Brazilian readers, please close your eyes 😬

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GIF by Giphy

  • Legal requirements
  • and much more…

As you’ve seen, localization is a process that requires time, effort, and investment to get it right. The first thing you’ll need to do is decide which regions to focus on. Once you’ve nailed it down, it’s time to deal with the practical realities of localizing your site. Hiring translators are usually the most effective way of localizing a website, especially since you’ll need to maintain the new version of the site over time. Whenever you update or add content to your main site, it’s important that you can do the same on the localized versions. Finally, you’ll also need to think about implementation and compatibility.

After reading this post, are you ready to localize your website? Let me know your thoughts on the comments session.

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