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Why Website Localization Matters

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Website localization is the only way to reap the benefits of having a multilingual website.

This is because only by taking on board your target region’s culture, habits, and expectations—as well as the language they speak—will you really be able to enter a new market effectively.

Brands and businesses around the world are starting to realize this.

For instance, in 2015, US companies alone spent $38 billion on localizing their websites.

However, you can’t just quickly translate the text on your website into a new language and hope it will do the job.

Therefore, before you start localizing your website for different regions and cultures, you need to think about the what, the why, and the how of your website localization strategy.

What Is Website Localization?

Website localization means adapting every element of your site so that someone from a different culture will be completely at home using it.

Of course, localizing the language you’ve used is important. Additionally, you need to ensure that you both retain your brand voice and use local language, terms, regionalisms, and cultural references that make sense.

However, for truly effective website localization, you need to consider every element of the design:

Formats and Transactional Elements

  1. Time, date, and currency
  2. Payment options
  3. Transaction handling methods
  4. On-site currency conversions
  5. Local addresses

Localized Layout and Navigation

For languages that are read from right to left such as Arabic or Hebrew, you will need to make significant alterations to your layout and navigation functions.

Also, you’ll probably need to do the same for logographic languages like Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.

Images and Video Content

The images you’ve used may not be relevant to your new target culture. They may even be inappropriate or contain gestures which some cultures find offensive.

Localized Icons

Icons are not universal either.

For instance, most American and European websites use a small “gear” icon to indicate settings. However, that’s not common practice across Asia.

Why Is Website Localization Becoming So Important?

Companies of all sizes, all over the world, are waking up to the benefits of website localization:

  • Adding popular languages like French, German, or Spanish can add as much as 100% each to the revenue a website generates.
  • On average, businesses in the UK, US, France, and Germany have target markets in 7 different languages and 7 different regions.
  • Africa and Asia are incredibly popular (and populous!) markets which many companies are now targeting.

Why Does Localization Matter to You?

There’s more than one reason why localizing a website is more effective than simply translating the words on it. For example, you will:

  • Build a powerful brand, known for its global respect for different cultures
  • Grow trust in your brand
  • Improve customer happiness
  • Gain a competitive edge

Access a Global Market by Localizing Your Website

Everything about the language and the images you use to convey your message to your domestic audience needs to be localized for your new foreign market.

The same thing is true of your content. For example, one cultural group or demographic may not respond to the same content in the same way.

This means you’ll need to:

Use Different SEO Tactics for Different Audiences

  • Get familiar with the best multilingual SEO practices in the region you’re targeting.
  • Research and use local keywords (not direct translations of your English keywords).
  • Edit your domain names and URLs.
  • Start a local link-building strategy.
  • Make sure you research best practices for the right search engines. (Google and Yahoo’s dominance in Europe and the US is not global.)


Don’t Forget the Legal Side

Your terms and conditions and the other legal aspects of operating a website are unlikely to cross cultural and legal jurisdictional boundaries intact.

Most Important of All: Do Your Research

You will need to know your new market intimately—or call in experts who do.

It’s important to understand the habits of your new audience, the social media platforms they use, what they expect in terms of website functionality, and the kind of content that interests them.

Think About How the Professionals Would Localize Your Website

Language service providers exist for a reason.

This is because the kind of in-depth research necessary to effectively localize your website for a new target market is extensive.

It encompasses all the cultural knowledge and technical understanding of the region you’re trying to enter, as well as mastery of the carefully chosen dialect of the local language you’re targeting.

Truly effective website localization can’t exist without it.