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Martin Kura

Web Localization Strategy: How to Localize Content Like a Marketer

Martin Kura
Web Localization Strategy: How to Localize Content Like a Marketer

Companies are still struggling in web localization: Should we translate the whole lot? Should we hire native copywriters? And how do we measure the content’s success?

This guide will show you how to plan for marketing localization, and how to get the most out of it.

The Mistake You’ve Probably Made, Too

First of all, a lot of companies think of their web content as a single organism without realizing there are different pieces of content serving different purposes. They usually get it translated, which means applying the same workflow to all content types. However, as every piece of content communicates different things, the approach should also be different.

A website will typically involve the following types of content:

  1. Branding

All content that talks about the brand: homepage, “About Us”, “Why Us”, “Mission” and “Vision” sections or pages. Anything that talks about your brand.

  1. Marketing

Typically the content that sells, or at least performs: product pages, landing pages, category pages, blog posts...

  1. Technical

All manuals, product descriptions, product documentation, FAQs, user guides etc. should be translated accurately to avoid any incorrect use of your products or services.

  1. Legal

Your Terms of Use, Impressum, disclaimers should comply to the laws of a certain state.

  1. Back-end/System

Content that includes so-called locale: locally-specific items like form entries, various number formats, etc.

  1. Contact Information

Your contact page should not only include relevant contact details for the users, but also should serve the location data to the search engines clearly.

Branding Content

ikea-website-1ikea-website-2

Simple and straightforward language, focused on one key value (“a company with a passion for life at home”), one key achievement (315 stores in 27 countries) and a link to country-relevant press releases make the content easy to translate. Gender and ethnically-neutral images resonate with the message. This could not have been done without internationalizing the content. Source: Ikea.com (English and Polish site).

What to do: Internationalize

Make sure your content speaks a neutral language without any regional connotations or metaphors.

Workflow: Translate > Review by local native > Gather suggestions > (Create Global Tone of Voice) > Finalize source content > Translate with the TOV > Proofread

Marketing Content

bmw-electric-car-1

bmw-electric-car-2

When BMW came out with the electric i3, they created landing pages for their UK and German websites with a slightly different, localized claim. While the UK website focuses on the electric energy and the strength of the BMW combined, the German website bets on emotions claiming “Electric. And Electrifying” plus advertises the eDrive concept. Navigational preferences and product selection are also slightly altered to better fit the local users’ needs. Source: bmw.co.uk and bmw.de.

What to do: Localize

Make sure your marketing content speaks the language of your target audience (which doesn’t have to be the official one at all).

Workflow: Write a brief > Transcreate (very free translation performed by a bilingual translator) > Proofread > A/B Test

Technical Content

ikea-directionsIKEA uses semiotics, i.e. internationally-comprehensible images for their technical manuals. Not only do they make the entire manual easier to understand, but they also save millions of dollars on an extensive technical glossary and translation. Source: Ikea.com

What to do: Translate

Workflow: Prepare for translation > Create glossary > Translate > Review > Proofread

glossaryThe glossary will help you keep the terminology consistent across all multilingual texts. This is also a great tool for maintaining keyword consistency across the whole website. Source: https://support.google.com/translate/toolkit

Legal Content

All legal or other legislation-sensitive content such as compliance documents should be translated literally, with a focus on locally-specific laws and regulations. A review by a field specialist (lawyer or attorney) shouldn’t be missing in the workflow.

Typically, global businesses hire translation agencies that specialize in legal translation, and then send the translated content to a local legal specialist for review.

Why Does Legal Content Matter to Local Marketing?

There is one thing that greatly affects the performance of an international website — trust. Users in some regions, e.g. Germany or Scandinavia, are rather sensitive when it comes to correct legal content and their buying decisions are made based on trust.

terms-of-serviceEven if this legal content would be perfectly by international laws, local users may not necessarily trust the website.

What to do: Translate

Workflow: Translate > Review by field specialist > Update > Final review

Back-end/System

System texts are specifically local. They often involve different locales: time and date formats and timezones, metric units, form items (address, ZIP), phone extensions, etc. That’s why regular translation gives you barely applicable nonsense content that requires a lot of corrections.

localization-chartStrings in a localization tool. Image credit: http://hewiki.heroengine.com

What to do: Localize. You need someone who is familiar with localization and uses localization tools. Key strings should come with additional context.

Workflow: Create glossary > Select tools (below) > Export > Translate > Import > Test > Review > Update > Final Import

Local Content

Simply, make sure local content is created from scratch. To make the most of local SEO potential of your local content, run the checklist below.

This:NAP-website

And this:website-code

Will result in this:

NAP-SERPsImage credit: www.hawaiianrecovery.com

Local content checklist:

  • Phone #’s with international codes
  • Full address
  • ZIP or equivalent
  • GPS information
  • Hours of operation in local format, if applicable
  • Schema.org local business mark-up
  • Embedded Google map

L8N Tools Selection

The selection of localization tools depends on the format of the file you are able to export from your website or app. Here are the most common file formats and suitable l8n tools:

file-format

Find more tools in this Wikipedia article.

How Can You Measure Multilingual Content Success?

create-a-new-reportThe best tool for this is a Google spreadsheet and the Google Analytics add-on, in which you can create your own report.

  1. Open a new Google Spreadsheet
  2. Click Add-ons, Get Add-ons
  3. Select the Google Analytics add-on
  4. Once installed, click Add-ons, Google Analytics, Create new report
  5. Set the values as in the image on the left
  6. Select Add-ons again, click Run reports
  7. The report will be created
  8. Use Filters in the spreadsheet to filter the content you want to see/compare

You can now easily compare the core quality metrics of individual pages and even equivalent pages in different languages.

Further Tools

You can also use URLprofiler to get a more accurate report. In Google Webmaster Tools, you can measure user engagement in the SERPs by tracking the CTR of individual pages. Check how your website appears in local SERPs using localsearch.martinkura.com.

What tools and methods are you using when localizing the content on your website? Let me know in the comments!

Image credit: Pixabay & Canva

Martin Kůra is an International SEO Strategist. You can visit his personal website.

Comments

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summ3r
summ3r
Very informative article, Martin, thanks! To localize websites, I recommend the localization mangement platform https://poeditor.com/

It supports cross-platform localization projects (compatible with .po, .pot, .properties, .strings, .resx, .resw, xls, xlsx, JSON files) and is suitable for crowdsourcing string translation too.

REST API, Translation Memory, Github & Bitbucket integration - all these features are available and help automate the localization workflow a lot.

Regards!
Kathleen Garvin
Kathleen Garvin
I'm always so impressed with your articles, Martin. Thanks for sharing this guide!
Martin Kura
Kathleen Garvin
Many thanks, Kathleen!
Hemanth Malli
This article gives the importance for Localizing content and this info will really help every marketer regarding their content strategy.
Good article...
Martin Kura
Hemanth Malli
Thank you, Hemanth! I'm glad you like it.
MirandaM_EComm
MirandaM_EComm
This is great info, Martin, and broken down in a really logical way. Nicely done!
Martin Kura
MirandaM_EComm
Thank you, Miranda! I appreciate your feedback.
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