Decided to localise your website rather than just have it translated? Then you’ve already taken the first step towards a great international business development strategy. Next, it’s all about organisation: tackle the project stages in the right order, tick off the items on the key elements checklist one by one…and avoid the most common pitfalls: those mistakes which will have your target running for the hills rather than having anything more to do with you. Successful localisation guarantees expansion!

1. Diving straight in

Website localisation is a strategy for expansion. And, as with all strategies, it needs to be planned, considered and carefully organised. So, draw up a specifications document, export your website content, contact a specialist platform, think about all your communication tools… In other words, prepare the content for localisation and select a method before you dive straight in!

2. Forgetting SEO

You’ll save time in the long run if you decide on an SEO strategy before you have your content translated. Create a glossary of keywords to suit your needs and the local market. The translator can use these keywords to improve their translation…and your SEO ranking. A well-thought-out SEO strategy will mean visitors arrive at the right place on your site, which is key to boosting conversion rates!

3. Translating every last bit of content

An article on bad weather in Brittany is unlikely to interest your Mexican visitors much. A seemingly unobjectionable topic could cause a scandal on the other side of the world if it contradicts local beliefs. Keep a close eye on what you are saying! Before starting the translation process, identify topics which will be relevant, inappropriate or simply boring for the target: it’s better to translate less than to translate in error.

4. Translating word for word

Each language has its own vocabulary, history and humour. A good translator is a master of language as well as local culture, allowing them to draw on references and adapt puns, examples and expressions: subtleties which automatic machine translators cannot cope with.

5. Just translating!

Translating existing content represents one step but creating content specific to each country is quite another. The best way to adapt your site to a market is to enhance it with tailor-made marketing content covering topics and using mediums familiar to the target audience. Text, images or videos; Halloween, Maori culture, Chinese New Year…each target has its own preferences.

6. Forgetting customer service

It’s essential that you support site visitors appropriately and reply in their language whether via contact forms, social media, a chat service or phone lines. Although an automatic translator could help you quickly understand an email before forwarding it on to the right local service, it won’t be able to respond to your customers. At least not well enough.

7. Rushing through the detail

Currency, time zone, local special occasions, sizes and units of measurement, payment and delivery methods, ways of returning and refunding, etc… For effective website localisation you need to think about even the tiniest details and adapt them to the local market. If the original site includes this information, it will be useful to your visitors in principle…and can often make the difference between a mere visitor and a future customer.

8. Ignoring the technical side of things

Localising a website also means localising all the technical elements from URLs to backlinks; from code to metadata. These are key for your SEO ranking on local search engines which control how visible your site is and therefore how often it’s visited!

If you want to localise a website without making mistakes in the process you’ll need a team of experts: professional translators, project managers, editors and occasionally legal experts or web developers, all with a shared goal and familiar with the local target market. A complex undertaking? It certainly is if you try to do it internally without the right resources or skill base. But it becomes much less so if you seek outside help from teams experienced in the process, especially as the results are well worth the effort!

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