If your website has a global audience, localization is an important element of success. It’s not just about translating the language. It’s about ensuring that the site is ready to inspire targeted users to take the desired action – to buy, join, subscribe, share and visit again. It’s about making sure every element of the site takes into consideration a user’s language, perspective, behavior and cultural norms. In order to do that, the site needs to be evaluated from various cultural perspectives. And you should expect that to lead to a redevelopment of content and branding if you truly want to resonate with international audiences.
Automatic language translation can cause issues with tone, clarity and grammar. But even if a website was translated by the most qualified professional linguist, the site may still fall short of important nuances that create a positive and comfortable experience. Consider design elements such as colors, sizes, and shapes; cultural content involving humor, etiquette, symbols and beliefs; and functional content such as date and time formats, contact information, and reviews.
Some localization experts not only adapt web content to cater to national or regional market preferences, but may also recreate or “transcreate” advertising and marketing campaign messaging to maximize cultural appeal—and avoid potentially embarrassing or offensive communications.
Use Location Data
Don’t exhaust yourself conforming your site to every possible culture. Google Analytics or Alexa will help you determine which countries generate the majority of your visits. And once you’ve decided on some geographic targets, be deliberate! Geographic information will help you make smarter decisions about targeting and messaging, and it will increase the value of your advertising inventory. Businesses with tighter budgets will appreciate a tighter geographic focus.
Just watch the traffic and conversions grow!
Do Some Research
Get in touch with some agencies in the local region that can help you understand the market. Make sure that the products or services would be in demand there, and that they will integrate well with the values of the target audience. Know how their customs and practices differ from ours. The last thing you want to do is offend an audience you want to capture.
Think of each version of your site as a living entity. You want it to continue to develop and improve as time goes by. As you add content, products, promotions, and functionality to the original site, you should plan to do the same to the other versions each and every time there is a change. The users will feel their importance and your commitment.
Make Sure It’s Working
If something isn’t displaying correctly, be sure to fix it fast. Always have skilled translators available to help you update content. Geoblocking and censorship will be an issue in some countries. Make sure you know if your site is up and how it looks and functions from every targeted location. GeoScreenshot allows you to test your website from over 50 geolocations.
Just like concerned parents and website owners can control content, some foreign governments choose to limit what can be viewed in their countries. Are the laws of certain countries affecting the visibility of your website there? You bet. If you have a global target audience, you should find out if your website or any of its content is being blocked in certain markets.
All Servers Are Not Updated
Even if your website is up and running in your home country, it may be down somewhere else. If it is important to you to reach people internationally, take the time to geotest. There are a number of reasons why a website may appear to be down in a particular geolocation. For example, new DNS changes mean that some visitors will not be sent to your new name server until propagation has been completed. Among the factors that impact propagation time are – you guessed it – physical location!
Additionally, in the case of content delivery network purging, geotesting will help you confirm that local CDNs have cached the most updated content from the origin.
Server Might Be Slow
If you are at all concerned with user experience, you want to know how your servers are performing. Demand can peak at different times of the day in different geolocations. Geotesting will let you know that your server is handling the load like a champ. It will also help you identify a server that needs replacement. The last thing you want is for a user’s browser to time out during peak activity because the server taking too long to respond.
Sometimes changes to code or data do not get deployed to all servers. Regardless of the deployment tool you use, you will want to verify that all updates are working properly everywhere. This is especially true if you decide on automatic deployments. By geotesting, a live pair of eyes can confirm successful deployment across multiple geolocations, or identify a problem, before users are impacted.
Localization is one of those highly beneficial differences, and you want to verify that it’s working well. By localizing content with currency type, languages, news and other geo-specifics, you vastly improve the user’s browsing experience and increase the likelihood of the user taking the desired actions. Geotesting will confirm whether your site is showing the right content for the targeted local market.
Your Website is Blocked
Not all countries welcome internet freedom. As a result, you may find your website with significantly reduced bandwidth or blocked entirely in some countries. Whether due to political opposition, religion, or some other perceived threat, website blocking is common in many countries and can be achieved in a number of ways, including IP address blocking, DNS filtering and redirection and URL filtering. The only way to know for sure whether your website is impacted is to geotest.
The European Commission has declared war on geo-blocking. But is the practice as anticompetitive as the group says?