POP SEO Tip #29: Localize, Don’t Translate – Tips for Global Marketing

For companies hoping to take advantage of the “worldwide” aspect of the World Wide Web, translation is probably the first thing that comes to mind.

Sure, English might be the international language of business, but what if you’re marketing housewares or bed linens? What if you’re marketing cookware or automotive accessories for consumers? In that instance, you’d want to translate your content into the other language.

There’s a problem here, though. Translation apps like Google Translate don't always do such a great job. In fact, you can see for yourself just how awful it is if you read this post in Google Chrome and then click the blue page icon in the upper right.

Translate Apps Are Mediocre at Best

When you translate this post into another language besides English, the results look very strange to a native speaker.  That’s because software-based translation methods like Google Translate are only good at rough translations and often don't take into account variations like slang or idioms.

This can be easily seen in the American vernacular. The phrase, “That’s cool” has nothing to do with temperature. It means something is acceptable or approved. Now, consider that from the perspective of a non-native English speaker with a literal translation in hand. You will find the result somewhat embarrassing.

What’s the Better Option?

So, what’s the solution if Google Translate isn’t the right option? Localization is what you need. This is a process that ensures your content is not just functionally translated into another language but put into words that your readers are going to understand.

Of course, this goes much deeper than just localizing the way your content reads. It should apply to all aspects of your marketing, from technical and structural to cultural elements. For instance, if you have an app that pulls a lot of data, but you’re marketing it in an area where cell phone data is expensive, it’s going to fall on its face.

Likewise, if you’re marketing something with an English name that’s similar to an offensive word in another language, you’re not going to see much success.
Localize all aspects of your marketing campaign and you’ll be positioned to really benefit from the connectivity offered by the World Wide Web.

The Benefits of Website Localization

Putting a website localization strategy into place has tons of benefits. You can expect to enjoy the following when you choose to do so:

Ability to target new regions – Adapting to the needs of new audiences is essential and having new languages is a great way to go about it. However, you also need to understand cultural differences to engage more deeply with these audiences.
Potential to provide a better user experience – People want to visit websites designed to meet their needs. Localization ensures you provide that. This might include redesigning the website, having new payment or shipping options, and adapting the copy jargon and dialect.
Get local traffic via search engines – Translating a site doesn’t mean you’ll get organic traffic from people in new locations. Instead, you need to implement proper content localization for that.

Steps to Localize Your Business Site

It can take a lot of time and effort to localize a website, which is why many people turn to companies that specialize in it to handle the work. The process takes time but it can be broken down into four major steps.

First, define your audience. Knowing who is going to be on your site is your number one priority. Do research into the people who would use your products and services and make sure your site is appealing to them. Focus on a single location before moving to another.

Next, bring in developers and designers who know the market. Regional experience is essential when you want to bring in new customers. After that, you can choose a translation method. This could be machine-aided, machine, or human translation.

The last step is to adapt your SEO strategy based on what has already been done. If you need assistance with any of these tasks, reach out to us. We have lots of experience and are here to help.