5 problems companies have with website localisation

12/03/2020 | Rebecca Twose

Once a brand decides to expand internationally, website localisation is usually one of the first steps they take to be able to reach a wider audience and showcase their services or products to their customers overseas. It’s crucial that the services, brand messages, and company values are showcased in the most professional and appropriate way for the target market.

However, the website localisation process isn’t always straightforward, especially if companies don’t choose a trusted, professional language service provider. As web users are up to four times more likely to purchase from a site that communicates in their own language, it is vital to get the translation right.

Below you will find 5 problems some companies have when getting their website localised:

1. Quality

Perhaps the most common problem that companies face is their translation being done to a poor standard. This may not necessarily mean obvious wording errors or spelling mistakes, it could mean the website has not been localised for its target audience. It is sometimes challenging to distinguish where translation ends and localisation starts, however, the latter addresses significant, non-textual components necessary to correctly adapt the product to local needs.

Localisation is a key part of the process as it ensures the translated content is culturally appropriate for target markets. For example, Mexico’s national language is Spanish, but this does not mean the process is as simple as translating the existing website into Spanish in order to target Mexican consumers. It is important to make sure the website is culturally appropriate for the Mexican audience by localising words, phrases, images, terms of address and more in order to ensure they are in line with what the Mexican audience expects.

A good example of why localisation is important is when Coca-Cola first launched in China. When Chinese shops first imported Coca-Cola in the 1920s, they wrote the name in Chinese characters. Unlike the Latin alphabet, Chinese characters have both a meaning and a sound. The characters pronounced ‘Coca-Cola’ often had nonsensical meanings like ‘mere stuffed with wax’ or ‘bite the wax tadpole’. For its official Chinese launch in 1928, the brand chose a different name: 可口可樂 (in original traditional form). The pronunciation was only slightly different (‘Kěkǒukělè’), and can be loosely translated as ‘happiness in the mouth’.

WPML

2. Compatibility

The next key issue that companies face is finding technologies that properly support website localisation and multilingual websites. A business needs a solution that will allow it to upload its content to be translated easily, can cope with website changes, and won’t be susceptible to failure. This is essential for making sure the content can be sent off for translation efficiently and without complications.

If your business has a WordPress website then WPML is a great plugin to get the content translated. You can simply select which pages or sections you want translating and directly upload them to your language service provider who will translate the content for you. WPML then puts the content back in the right place which is much easier and efficient for both parties. For more information about WPML translation, read our guide to WPML here.

Multilingual SEO

3. Optimisation

Another problem that some companies encounter is once they’ve had their website localised they realise it hasn’t been optimised, resulting in low traffic to the site, which isn’t productive if you are trying to grow your business in that foreign market.

Many companies make the mistake of thinking they can just use Google Translate for tasks such as translating keywords, but they don’t realise that the keywords for their product/service may be a completely different word or phrase in their foreign market. This is why multilingual keyword research is needed for all new target markets to make sure the most appropriate keywords are being used, which will result in more traffic to your website.

The same goes for SEO and meta descriptions. Metadata usually cause problems for linguists as they have a character limit and don’t always follow grammar rules. This means that simply translating the meta description word for word won’t work for languages like German where the words are longer and have special characters. The metadata, along with the other SEO elements, will need to be reworded in a way that still makes sense and still contains the relevant keywords needed for optimisation. If your website has already been localised then you will require multilingual SEO carried out by a native professional in the language you’re targeting.

website localisation

4. Maintenance

Once the website has been fully translated, localised and optimised that must be the end of the website translation process? Many companies think this is the case but it isn’t.

To ensure the website always performs to its best capabilities it will need continuous maintenance, updates and site audits. The localised version should mirror the updates and activity that is carried out on the domestic site. Just like the domestic site needs assistance from social media, blog content and press releases in order to generate more traffic, the localised site will need all of this too to work to its full potential. To do this, all of this content also needs to be translated, localised and optimised alongside the website in order to maximise reach and engagement in the new market. However, what is posted on the domestic social media channels and blogs may not be relevant to a foreign audience, so tailored content may have to be created for each demographic.

website localisation

5. Cost

All of the points discussed above will all ultimately contribute to this final problem…cost.

There should be a balance between the quality and cost of the language service required, you don’t want to pay over the odds for the service but likewise buying cheap could mean you pay twice. If your company has tried to save costs by not using a professional language service provider, the website may come back and not be localised or optimised. An even worse scenario would be that the content gets returned with errors.

After identifying these common problems that companies face when getting their website localised, it’s not all bad news. They can all be easily avoided by using the right website translation and localisation provider. Your provider should translate and localise the website, whilst optimising it thoroughly throughout the process. The best providers use superior proxy-based technology that can be used with any tool, handle any site and read any programming language to make the whole process easier for both parties. Your provider should use native professional experts that will provide you with thorough, brand-perfect localisation for your online and multi-channel content, all around the world.

This may result in your costs being higher as you will have to invest even more time and money in fixing these issues by involving another language service provider who will, in best case scenario, proofread and fix these issues. Surely it’s better to pay once for a service that is guaranteed to be high-quality as well as the process running smoother and quicker?

The Solution

After identifying these common problems that companies face when getting their website localised, it’s not all bad news. They can all be easily avoided by using the right website translation and localisation provider. Your provider should translate and localise the website, whilst optimising it thoroughly throughout the process. The best providers use superior proxy-based technology that can be used with any tool, handle any site and read any programming language to make the whole process easier for both parties. Your provider should use native professional experts that will provide you with thorough, brand-perfect localisation for your online and multi-channel content, all around the world.

This provider should be Language Insight. To discuss our digital services such as website localisation in more detail, get in touch with our Digital Team today by emailing: [email protected]

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