If you’re preparing to take your business into a new foreign market using your website as the primary communication tool, all of the usual best practices apply, but so do several other rules you may not have considered. In order to communicate successfully, you have to do more than just translate your current website into a foreign language and go to market. Localization is the goal, and localization goes well beyond translation.
Here are six best practices for localizing your website in a foreign market.
- Start with the right search engine. Not all foreign countries are as Google happy as we are, and if you happen to be marketing in one that isn’t, you’ll need to learn a new set of rules for search ranking and be sure to follow them in your design, content, and tags.
- Make sure your loading speed isn’t driving in the slow lane. We all know that a website that’s slow to load can be the kiss of death in the online marketplace. Ensuring a fast loading time in a foreign market takes a little more effort, but it’s an important factor in making that first impression.
- Hire a translator, or two. Language is a tricky thing, and when you translate from one to another, it’s much more than a word for word conversion. You also have to factor in cultural sensitivities, differences in terminology, and colloquialisms, and that takes native talent. To capture all of the subtleties, we recommend working with at least two different translators (real people, not Google Translate), so you’re effectively cross-referencing your content. Then, you can be confident that you’re actually saying what you want to say.
- Design intelligently. Like words, the colors, symbols, and images you use don’t always mean the same thing in all cultures. For example, in the U.S., the color white represents purity and cleanliness, and in Asian countries it means death and bad luck. Your language translator may be able to help with this, too, but if not, there are plenty of resources both online and in the international business community that offer guidance.
- Localize your SEO. When you designed your website, you included keywords for SEO, but those keywords may not be the same in a foreign market. Make sure you optimize your site with the right words and phrases to produce better search results and ensure your site will be found.
- Add a foreign domain extension. In the U.S., we’re comfortable with .com, but foreign prospects may be more at ease with a domain extension from their own country where they’re doing business. Seeing a domain extension associated with another country can unintentionally communicate subtle barriers to easily doing business, such as the perception of longer shipping times. On the other hand, seeing a familiar domain extension can encourage instant trust.
It’s common to feel like you’re getting in over your head when you’re trying to take your website into a foreign market, but don’t worry. A variety of resources are available to assist you and your web team with making a successful transition into a foreign marketplace, including website designers, strategy consultants, content experts, and language and culture translators who can help you get it right.
Reach out to Wavelength Marketing today for help in localizing your website in a foreign market. Call Gary Peterson at 717-823-6939.