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An Ultimate Guide for Website Localization in the Chinese Market

Posted by Anne Quach on November 25, 2021.

With a population of over 1.4 billion people, China is one of the most important and biggest markets in the world which is seldom absent in the localization projects of every company when going global. While Chinese is a very attractive market, it also poses significant challenges that acquiring professional localization works, especially when it comes to websites.

In this article, GTE localize would like to give you some advice based on our deep research and experience to help you effectively localize your website into the Chinese market.

What is Website Localization?

Before diving into challenges and tips for Chinese website localization, let’s begin with the basics. Simply speaking, Chinese website localization is the process of adapting your current website’s content and visuals to fit the language and culture of the Chinese market. The aim of localizing your website into Chinese is to provide the most useful and authentic experience for Chinese users.

Many people may think that Chinese website localization is just about translating all your website content into Chinese. The truth is localizing a website is a challenging and much more complicated process and website translation is just one of many steps in this process. Besides translating content, factors such as layout, graphics, transactional elements, etc. should be taken into consideration.

 

Why Should You Localize Your Website for the Chinese Market?

It is true that having a population of more than 1.4 billion people and a strong economy with a bunch of opportunities to grow are two main features that make China an attractive market for foreign business. When entering this market, using Chinese for all your communication channels, especially websites is a must and here are the reasons:

    • A high number of internet users – According to the most recent statistics, China has over 988.99 million internet users, and the number of people interested in websites that communicate in a culturally appropriate manner is still growing. A website is essential whether you are providing information or trying to sell your products. It will be extremely beneficial to your company if you can attract a large number of Chinese visitors to your website. This is where website localization comes in handy.

Internet Users in China - website localization

    • Culture and customer behaviourWith 5000 years of history and being one of the world’s oldest civilizations, Chinese culture is diverse and complex. Chinese people attach great importance to tradition, culture and manners which are deeply different from the West. Many businesses have been ruining their brands in this massive market due to culture issues. In terms of customer behaviour, the Chinese market also has many special features. These are the reasons why you must localize your website into the Chinese market to ensure the best result for your business in this market.

 

Important Things to Consider When Localizing Your Website into Chinese

For a successful Chinese website localization project, don’t overlook the importance of the following factors:

#1. Do Market Research

The Chinese market is a quite special case when talking about policy terms and customer behaviour. Thus, a Chinese website localization project without proper market research will go nowhere. For example, while Google is the most popular search engine in almost all countries, this is banned in China. Instead, Baidu – a Chinese-made search engine – is used.

Baidu

And this is not the only case. The Great Firewall of China also blocks access to selected websites and slows down cross-border internet traffic (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube are all included). Although you can ask for a license to host your website in China, most companies choose to cooperate with local brands to deal with this problem.

Language usage in different areas also varies, in which Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese are the most popular ones. Simplified Chinese is the simplification of the Traditional Chinese by cutting down the number of strokes to make it easier to read and write. It is popular in the mainland of China while traditional Chinese is mostly used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

 

#2. Adapt the UI and UX

UI (user interface) refers to what users see on your website, whereas UX (user experience) refers to how users interact with your website. Something that looks great but is difficult to use is an example of good UI but bad UX. While something very usable but ugly is an example of great UX and bad UI. But the definitions for good and bad UI and UX vary from country to country.

Chinese websites are typically busy and complicated, with more words/information and call-to-actions than Western websites. It can be explained in part by the complexity of Chinese characters (due to the number of strokes). Furthermore, the complexity of the Chinese language makes it more difficult for search engine algorithms to function efficiently. As a result, many web designers prefer to include multiple links on the homepage, making the website appear more cluttered.

Sina China

The UI of a popular website in China

On the other hand, research made by Google China (back in the day Google was still available in China) which was written in the book 6 Billion Shoppers (Porter Erisman), American Google customers typically went straight for the search box, whereas Chinese users’ eyes typically skipped around the entire website as if looking for little surprises and visual stimulation.

In short, rather than just translating your content, you should also adapt your user interface based on the customer’s habit to provide them with the best user experience.

 

#3. Use QR Codes

QR codes are amazingly popular in China. People use QR codes to scan URLs, transfer money, make payments, etc. and you can see the codes everywhere. QR codes now become a critical marketing tool and it can be a fundamental shortcoming if your website does not include a QR code.

QR Codes in China

 

#4. Don’t Forget It’s a Mobile-First Market

China is a mobile-first country, with more than 988 million Chinese people accessing the internet via a mobile device by 2020. When conducting business in the Chinese market, it is critical to have a website that is optimized for mobile use. Make sure that every element of your site is mobile-friendly.

 

#5. Use the Right Social Media

Because Facebook and Twitter are prohibited in China, your social marketing strategy must shift accordingly. You must present your brand image on Chinese social media platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, Tiktok, etc. According to Forrester Research, Chinese consumers are “hyper-social,” meaning they are more likely to share information about their experiences, satisfaction, and promotion on social media.

Chinese Social Media

WeChat is China’s most popular social network. You should create an official WeChat account for your business and include it in the Chinese version of your website.

Furthermore, presenting on niche forums and communities that share industry-specific content is a powerful way to increase brand awareness.

 

#6. Phone Numbers Are More Important Than Emails

In the West, email is commonly used as the primary identifier for account logins, but in China, phone numbers take precedence. As previously stated, China is a mobile-first country. Phone numbers are used by Chinese people to access everything from e-commerce accounts to social network accounts, digital wallets, and bank accounts.

Most social media and websites in China use mobile phone numbers as the primary identifier for account logins, so it might be a good idea for your Chinese website to do the same.

 

#7. Optimize Your Website for Baidu

According to Statcounter, Baidu has an 85.37% market share in China and is the number one search engine in this market (as of October 2021). So, if you want consumers to find your website, you should concentrate your SEO efforts on Baidu rather than Google.

Search Engines in China

When compared to Google, Baidu’s ranking algorithms differ slightly. Meta keywords and tags, for example, carry more weight than links. If at all possible, research additional popular search engines in China and plan for website localization.

 

Let’s Summarize

China is no doubt a potential market for many foreign businesses. But at the same time, it is a very challenging one to make a splash in. Having a website localized into Chinese is one of the crucial steps in your plan to get closer to the Chinese audiences. By applying our tips above, we hope you will achieve a successful Chinese website localization project.

If you are looking for a professional Chinese localization partner to accompany you in this market, GTE Localize is here to help. With a focus on the Asian markets, GTE Localize has the advantage of having extensive Chines language, culture, and market knowledge and experience. Our team of native Chinese linguists and website localizers understand the traps and challenges of Chinese website localization projects and know how to overcome them effectively to give you the best-localized website in the Chinese market.

Chinese website localization services

Book a 1:1 free consultancy with our Chinese website localizers now and get your Chinese website localization project kicked off today!