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Website localisation best practices: 3 points to remember

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If you’re looking to expand your brand’s reach across global markets, website translation is an essential step to take. However, when it comes to certain territories, it is often not enough to simply have the content on your website translated word-for-word. This is where website localisation goes a step beyond basic website translation services.
Localising your website ensures that your content resonates with your entire potential global audience. Beyond simply translating the words on the page, localisation adapts your website to the culture of your new audiences. Changing your site’s colour scheme, adapting your social media and SEO strategy, and even overhauling the design of your site itself can all make a positive impact on your success abroad. Here are three crucial points to remember when you ask an agency to localise your website.

Be mindful of small variations between your localised sites

If you’ve already had your website translated professionally, you might think your content is up to standard, internationally speaking. However, even if the message your brand is putting into the world can now be understood by multiple audiences, there are still some small but important refinements you will need to make.

Be sure each of your localised sites have the correct contact information, as well as making sure legal considerations (such as the terms and conditions page and cookies agreement) adhere to the requirements of each territory. Likewise, ensure that details on any of your site’s product or event listings, such as sizes, measurements, dates or currency, all conform to the standard units or formats in your target country.

Adapt the design and media content of your website

While the majority of languages will require little to no alterations to the design of your website, localisation to some territories might lead to some vital tweaks being made. According to IBM, translating paragraphs from English into other European languages requires around 30% more space on the page, so a localised website will need to accommodate this additional space in its design.

Images and videos will also need to be altered and optimised. Including subtitles on video content, or reworking text-based images into your target language is a given, and will again inform how your localised website will be designed. However, you should also ensure that the images and videos themselves are culturally sensitive to your target international audience.

Make your technical instructional imagery as easily-comprehensible as possible, and be sure to adapt any step-by-step graphics for any territories reading from right to left. You should also make sure that any gestures and scenarios in the photos on your site which may register as inoffensive to Western audiences (such as drinking alcohol) are altered or replaced in order to avoid upsetting users in other cultures.

Keep local SEO in mind

As with the text and layout of your pages, the overall structure of your site will need to be revised in order to adhere to localised customs in your target markets. Researching how your local competitors organise the navigation of their sites will give you a better idea of how companies in your sector structure their websites, particularly when it comes to organising products and services.

Beyond this, developing a local SEO strategy to these new markets is also essential, making sure that any link building campaigns target locally-relevant websites. As well as translating your onsite content, revising elements in the back end of your website, such as your title tags and meta descriptions, allows you to accommodate localised keywords, and set canonical tags on any pages which could be flagged up as duplicate content. Hosting these versions of sites at different local domains has also been recognised as a positive ranking factor, so investing in a .co.uk, .ru or .de website alongside your primary global domain will help your site’s visibility. You should also keep your Google My Business profiles updated with all information for any local offices you might have in these other territories.

Website localisation may seem daunting, but it can easily be informed by your market research and the collective knowledge of the staff in the territories to which you are expanding. Depending on the number of countries for which you will need to localise, the process will likely become easier the more frequently you do it, with only the cultural nuances of each country needing to give you pause. Regardless, by employing the advice above, your business is sure to see international success.

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