How to Prepare for a Website Localization Project?
Having a website that is only available in English is not enough for your business when going global. This statement sounds fairly obvious and almost like a cliché. So, to emphasise the importance of website localization, we bring you some crucial facts and figures from the Can’t Read, Won’t Buy by CSA Research:
- 89% of internet users do not live in the U.S;
- 4% spend most of their time on websites written in their native language;
- 40% won’t buy in another language;
- 65% prefer content in their native language;
- 73% want reviews of products in their language;
- 7% acknowledge that retrieving information in their own language is more important than prices;
- $1 invested in localization generates up to $25 in revenue.
Before your website localization project can be kicked off, you need to make some preparations in planning your strategy, building your team, and making other crucial decisions. Let’s find out the crucial steps you need to take to achieve a successful website localization project.
Step 1 – Define the Target Market And Language
You cannot localize your website into too many languages at once, especially if you are a small business with a limited budget. As a result, your company must make a difficult decision: which global markets to localize your website into first?
To answer this question, you should consider a number of related factors, including the five critical suggestions listed below:
- Target Markets
- Website Traffic
- Website Design
- The Popularity of Languages Used on The Internet
For a detailed guide on how to choose the suitable languages to localize your content into, check out our blog.
Step 2 – Decide Which Items Need Localizing
It is ideal if your company has a resourceful budget that allows all website elements to be localized. However, in case your budget is limited, you need to decide which important items should be prioritized. This decision, unfortunately, is not easy at all.
To help you avoid missing important elements when implementing a website localization project, we have made a checklist of key website items in two groups: visible and invisible.
Invisible elements should be adapted:
- Landing pages text;
- Header and footer;
- Pop-up messages;
- Call to action (CTA) buttons;
- Contact forms;
- Blog posts;
- Text on images;
- Downloadable assets (e.g., whitepaper, resources, etc.);
- Error messages;
- Terms and conditions;
- Time, measurement, and currency;
Invisible elements to localize:
- Meta titles and descriptions;
- Alt text;
Step 3 – Choose A Suitable Website Localization Agency
For a website localization project, we highly recommend you work with a specialized translation agency instead of freelance translators. This is because website localization requires more than just native linguists. It needs a team of experienced translators to handle the language side, a team of developers and engineers to support the technical side, a team of dedicated project managers to guarantee the smoothness of the project as well as marketing specialists in the target market.
When searching for a website localization agency to work with, you should consider the following factors:
#1. Have a partnership with your website builder multilingual plugins
Whether a website localization agency has a partnership with different multilingual plugins and localization platforms or not can tell a lot about its focuses and expertise. Those who partner up with various related providers will bring you various choices to meet your unique demands.
For example, if your website is built on WordPress, your localization partner should be the one who has a partnership with well-known WordPress multilingual plugins such as WPML, Polylang, Weglot, etc. to help you enjoy an automatic and seamless experience.
#2. Be able to support different file formats
If you only translate a few web pages, then manually copying and pasting content into the Word file can work. However, in case your whole website needs localizing, this manual method costs too much time and you easily get confused or miss important information. That’s why every website builder allows you to export all content, or some chosen parts of your content, mostly in XML, CSV, or HTML formats. The localization agency you work with must be able to support these file formats to guarantee a smooth and automatic workflow.
#3. Giving you a clear working process
An experienced localization agency in website localization should be able to consult you with a clear and customized website localization process because each project is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all process for all website projects. Being provided with a clear process means you understand what you need to do and what your translation partner will perform during the agreed deadlines. Thus, you can control the progress and get your expected results on time.
Step 4. Internationalize Your Website
Website internationalization is a preparatory step for localization. It is the process of ensuring that the platforms and workflows of your websites can accommodate different languages and cultural conventions.
Main considerations when internationalizing your website:
- Make sure your website programmers use Unicode as it supports all languages and provides unique symbols for characters in languages.
- Make it possible for your codes to display content in different languages and local preferences (date formats, currency, etc.)
- Ensure that your localized website content is under the same URL within language-specific subdirectories or subdomains.
- Set up hreflang tags within your source code.
- Set up language redirection to display the right language for your website visitors.
- Separate the source code and translatable strings.
- Adapt your website to allow space for different word lengths.
- Adapt your website to be able to display content for the right to left languages.
- Make sure you are about to display/hide/adapt some part of the website.
Internationalization should be considered carefully because if it’s done right, no changes to the source code or framework are needed in the next steps.
Step 5. Prepare Website Localization Resources
Website localization resources such as a style guide, translation glossary, and a list of multilingual keywords act as a compass, guiding translators in the right direction. If you want an effective website localization project without wasting too much time or money on localization, this is a step that can’t be skipped.
Translation Style Guide
A translation style guide is a set of guidelines created by your company for translators to follow when working on your translation projects. A translation style guide is created with the aim to guarantee the consistency of translation tone, writing style, punctuation, spelling, brand voice, and other textual and visual elements.
Elements you need to include in your translation style guide:
- General information about the project;
- Tones of voice;
- Target audience’s profile;
- Linguistic preferences (Spelling, Abbreviations and Acronyms, Punctuation, Names and Addresses, and Numbers and Measurements);
- Elements shouldn’t be translated.
For a detailed guide on how to create a style guide and a freestyle guide sample, visit our blog post here.
A collection of standardized key terminology found in documents that need to be translated is called a translation glossary. It may also include your company’s approved translations or definitions for those terms.
In general, the format of a translation glossary consists of three components:
- Terms from the original language (Required)
- Definition and explanation of terms (required)
- Term translations that have been approved (Optional)
For a detailed guide on how to create a translation glossary and a free translation glossary sample, visit our blog post here.
Keyword research in multiple languages
Before beginning your website localization project, conduct multilingual keyword research to improve the results of target language searches and search result ranking. This is due to the fact that a term, object, or event in a language can be described by several different words. Therefore, a literal translation of keywords from the source to the target language may not yield the desired result.
It is not enough to translate your website’s main and sub-keywords. Your company should conduct keyword research in the target language to ensure that you’ve used optimized keywords to increase the visibility of your website when customers search for such information in their target language.
Furthermore, knowing the preferred search engine of the target market is critical. The default search engine in every country is not Google. For example, Chinese people use Baidu, the majority of Russians use Yandex, and Koreans prefer Naver. To rank your website, each search engine uses its own algorithm. That is, even if your website achieves a high Google ranking, there is no guarantee that it will perform similarly in Baidu, Yandex, or Naver.
There are numerous mistakes that can be made during the website localization process. However, it is possible for things to go wrong before the translators and localizers even begin their work. Mistakes can be made in your preparation steps, leading to the poor quality localized website later on. Thus, don’t overlook this important process. We hope our insights above will help you well-prepare for your upcoming website localization projects.
What to do next?
Download our free 40-page whitepaper with a step-by-step guide to help you with website localization planning and preparation.
If you need assistance from a professional and experienced website localization agency, GTE Localize is here to help. We provide website localization services for all major languages in the world.
Simply drop us a line and let our website localization experts give you a free 1:1 consultancy today!