Localization Insights
Localization Insights

How to Localize Your Website: 13 Key Steps for Smooth Implementation 

Localization is a must for any brand looking to connect with global consumers. It’s a far more involved process than simple translation. As well as adapting the core message from one language into another, localization takes into account every other aspect that gives your content meaning. Imagery, layout, colors, and more all play their part. While translation can capture the bare bones of your original message, only localization makes the content feel as though it’s been created exclusively for new audiences.

Website localization is a key part of the process. Adapting your website content for native audiences is a must if you want to engage them and secure conversion. More than 72% of customers say they prefer to use websites offered in their native language. However, adapting on-page text from one language into another is just a piece of a larger puzzle. 

Need help navigating the world of website localization? Read on for everything you need to know. 

What is website localization? 

This is just one part of the larger localization process. Website localization involves adapting your original website content to a new language. However, it requires more than a word-for-word translation of the original text. 

Unless you’ve invested heavily in website internationalization, you’ll need to reconsider design elements. Colors, imagery, and other visual aspects may need to be heavily retooled for a new target market. 

You’ll also need to think about the functional aspects of your website. If your current website supports payment processing, you should be displaying prices in local currencies. Furthermore, you’ll need to offer payment options that your target market is actually using. Website content localization also involves adapting things like phone numbers, data formats, and units of measurement. 

The difference between website translation and localization 

Some businesses think retooling website content from one language into another is sufficient to penetrate new markets. It’s not. True website localization is a much more involved process. 

Although translation is still a key part of things, every aspect of a website needs to be reconsidered for new audiences. However, revisions to site navigation, layout, and imagery require extensive analysis of the markets you’re looking to target. Extensive testing is also needed. Localization testing ensures your new website content performs just as well as the original version. 

Why bother with website localization? 

While website translation can provide you with a rudimentary online presence, only localization will allow you to communicate with non-native audiences. A localized website lets you forge stronger connections with potential customers, build brand loyalty in new countries, and deliver a much richer customer experience. 

To penetrate new markets

If you want to expand your operation into new territories, you’ll need to localize your website. Without a multilingual website, any international marketing strategy is going to prove fruitless. 

To get local traffic from search engines

Translating website content from one language into another isn’t a great idea if you’re looking to secure organic traffic from local search. In order to secure those searches from native speakers, you need to commit to website localization. With a localized website, you’ll be able to target less competitive search terms and get your pages ranking. 

Enhanced user experience

Visitors to your site will quickly realize they’re using something that wasn’t originally designed for them. This can be off-putting, leading to significant drop-off rates. By retooling website layout, offering local payment options, and heavily adapting content to region-specific nuances, you can dramatically improve user experience. 

Inspire customer loyalty 

The more effort you put into localizing your website content, the more loyalty you’ll get from customers in return. If a user feels valued, they’re more likely to interact with your brand positively. By showing that you have a firm handle on local customs and cultural norms, customers are more likely to keep coming back. 

Boost your revenues 

The more happy customers you have, the more you can grow your revenues. For any brand, it’s the bottom line that counts. Investing in a website localization strategy will pay off in the long run. 

Looking to expand your business beyond a local market? BLEND is on hand to help with any website localization project, turning your content into a truly multilingual experience as you start to compete on a global scale. Eager to get the website localization process underway? Read on for a foolproof 13-step plan for a successful website location project. 

1. Market research: defining target audience

Before localizing a website, you need to decide on which territories you want to target. Some are going to be more lucrative than others. Ask yourself questions like whether there’s an actual demand for the products and services you’re offering. If there is, what’s the market growth rate like? You’ll also want to consider market saturation and competition. All of this will give you a good idea of the ROI you can expect. 

2. Preparing a website localization strategy 

Laying the groundwork for website localization is easy enough. Once you’ve determined which markets you want to target, you’ll need to explore local purchasing behavior, cultural expectations, and more. 

Next, think about how well your brand is going to translate internationally. Some localization efforts are easier than others. There’s a chance your marketing messages will land well in another language, but you may have to retool things considerably to connect with a global audience.

If you’re using in-house resources for website localization, make sure you’re assigning the best people to the right tasks. In many cases, companies will need to turn to a third-party localization service. In order to measure the success of your localization strategy, you’ll need to decide on which KPIs are most important. You can turn to SEO rankings, website views, or sales figures.

3. Choose a website localization method 

You have a couple of different localization workflows to choose from. Waterfall localization is the obvious choice if you’re adapting an existing website for new audiences. 

If you’re creating your main website along with ones intended for non-native speakers, you’ll want to consider continuous localization. Any major update that’s applied to your main website will trigger updates elsewhere. This agile approach is ideal for companies looking to speed up the localization process and deliver multilingual websites more quickly.

4. Choosing the right website localization team 

A successful localization project requires a dedicated team. You’ll need someone to take charge of localization project management. This person is responsible for assigning tasks to everyone involved and ensuring major milestones are achieved. 

Technical roles will also need to be filled. Developers are invaluable here, while designers are also needed to adapt imagery and visual content for new audiences. Unsurprisingly, you’ll also need a high-skilled network of translators. Even if you’re leaning on machine translations, you’ll need human linguists to ensure every last word is hitting the right note. AI-driven translations are becoming increasingly reliable, but they still struggle to capture the nuance of language. 

Once a website has been localized, you’ll need to test its performance. QA engineers are therefore essential. Finally, you’ll need ongoing support roles staffed by people who can speak the language. These individuals will respond to customer inquiries, moderate online discussions, and provide front-line assistance to native speakers. 

5. Keyword research: adapt your SEO strategy 

Start thinking about SEO and keyword research as soon as you’ve decided which markets you’ll be tapping into. Don’t assume you can simply translate the keywords you’ve been using in your home territory. Instead, you need to identify the terms online users are actually searching for. 

It’s best to use local talent and native speakers to handle this process. Once you’ve decided on the terms you’re going to use, your SEO strategy can take shape and inform localized content. 

6. Content extraction 

Although you don’t want to translate website copy exactly, you’ll still need your source material to inform localization efforts. You’ll want to avoid irrelevant content like headers, footers, and tables of contents. To sift out this kind of material, turn to website content extraction. Once the superfluous information has been removed, you can use the extracted content to steer your localization efforts. 

7. Choosing a translation management system 

Selecting the right tools can be a dealbreaker when undertaking a website localization project. Ideally, the translation management system should include an application programming interface that will allow you to automate many processes. An API can allow developers to automate tasks like file uploading, content extraction, and more. 

A good management system should also support collaborative workflows. If you’re working with remote teams, this is even more important. You’ll want to be able to leave clear guidance for tasks, add comments to completed work, and more. 

Other useful localization tools include translation memory. With this, frequently used words and terms can be applied consistently. To streamline the localization process, it’s also worth using a management system that includes an integrated glossary. 

8. Website localization automation process

Once you’ve decided on a translation management system, you can unlock the full potential of automation. You can use automation tools to carry out pre-translations that can later be picked up by human linguists. Alternatively, the machine translation method can be used for less important text segments. 

9. Internationalization of website content 

Internalization is often considered a preliminary step to localization. It’s about preparing your website so it can be readily adapted for new audiences and different languages in the future. Any language-specific content should be stored separately. This way, no major code changes need to be carried out in order to change site language. 

Once you’ve laid the groundwork for internalization, you’re ready to target more specific localization tasks, such as:

Localizing texts

This is arguably the most time-consuming aspect of localization. Ideally, you’ll want to use human linguists to oversee text localization.

Adapting images to audiences

Very few images have global appeal. An innocuous graphic in one country might carry a completely different meaning somewhere else. In some cases, you run the risk of offending your audience. Knowing what’s acceptable and what isn’t should have been flagged during the market research stage.  

Adapting colors to cultures 

Colors also have wildly different connotations. If you’re thinking about going global, your website color schemes will often need a rethink. Things like logos and brand-specific image assets should be kept fairly simple. This way, they’ll be easier to localize. Ultimately, you may need to adapt website colors to each locale you’re looking to penetrate.

10. UI and UX localization 

User experience (UX) is crucial to any website development project. However, it’s even more important if you’re looking to localize for new markets. A second-rate UX or ill-judged user interface (UI) elements are going to impact conversion rates and customer satisfaction levels. 

Localizing layout and site navigation 

During the internationalization stage, you should have already made allowances for languages with more page-intensive text springs. This can reduce layout issues and navigation problems down the line. However, you might still need to think about rearranging elements at this late stage. 

Localizing symbols 

Some symbols are universal, while others are very region-specific. Make sure you’re using the ones most likely to be utilized by users in your target market. 

11. Localization implementation 

Once your localization teams have taken care of text translation and image adaption, you can start incorporating these new elements into your website. The import process can be automated for convenience. However, you’ll still want to check them manually for consistency and quality assurance purposes.

12. Localization testing before the website launch 

Every website should undergo rigorous testing before launching. However, a localized website needs even more attention. As well as checking text translations for accuracy and assessing images for cultural suitability, you need to determine whether the UI is working correctly. Technical teams can take charge of functional testing, but you’ll need to rely on native speakers to oversee linguistic localization testing. 

13. Get your marketing strategy underway

If your test has gone well, your website is ready to go live. However, a live website is going to gather digital dust unless you’re marketing it. You’ll need to adapt your marketing strategy to the demands of your target market. Social media can be an effective way of engaging an audience, but you might have to target different channels than the ones you’re used to. Determining which ones are going to bear more fruit is crucial. 

Although marketing collateral should already be localized, take the time to polish marketing slogans, calls to action, and other advertising text. These elements need to be meticulously adapted to cultural nuances and language specifics if they’re going to land.

Website localization made simple

Website localization is just one piece of a larger localization strategy. Along with language translation, website localization involves adapting design elements to meet the needs of new audiences. In most cases, website functionality will also need to be retooled. 

Investing in website localization is crucial if you want to fully penetrate new markets. What’s more, it makes it easier to land organic traffic from local search queries. A localized website also enhances user experience. The easier you make things for site visitors, the more likely it is they’ll want to return and use your service in the future. When website localization is done right, it’s easy to turn a single transaction into a lifelong customer relationship. 

However, the website localization process can seem daunting. You need to define your target audience with market research, select a multi-disciplined team, carry out native keyword research, and much more. This is often too much for in-house resources to handle. 

Looking for help with your website localization project? At BLEND, we can help you expand into foreign markets and unlock new revenue streams. Along with high-quality translation services, our experts are on hand to take charge of all those localization tasks. With thousands of linguists working in more than 120 major languages and website localization integrations with WordPress, Shopify, Drupal and more, the world is your oyster when you choose BLEND as your localization partner. Ready to learn more? Get in touch today. 

author post

Fouad Habash

As BLEND’s Localization Solutions Engineer, Fouad is a seasoned expert in translation technologies, including TMS, CAT tools, AI and MT. With over 14 years of industry experience, Fouad ensures our clients receive the best and most efficient localization processes.


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