When you try to internationalize your website, you cannot simply translate it and expect new foreign customers coming right away.
There is a wide range of factors that you need to take into account when making your website or ecommerce store international.
Here, we will tell you, what those important features of global expansion online are.
Firstly, why do you need to internationalize your website?
Should You Internationalize Your Website
Today, it became very easy to internationalize, especially online. While your market might be saturated, there is a whole bunch of new and emerging markets that are waiting for your product of service.
To use all possibilities of internationalization online and increase your profits, you need to:
- Analyze your target market by analyzing the competition, learning about their culture and language, what kind of content they like and how they prefer purchasing the products or services you sell.
- Translate your website to the target languages, and deliver the message adapting it to local habits.
- Work on Local SEO to increase the traffic and number of sales in the target locations.
- Create new social media accounts or use the old ones to improve your brand image, and interact with your potential or existing customers.
All these stages of website internationalization and localization will be explained further.
You always need to take into account the language of people in your target markets when going global. If you only have a website in English, you need to find out if your target audience in the new market speak it, and if they search for your products or services in English.
Of course, a better tactics will be translating the website, at least the pages relevant to new audience into their language.
It is very important to translate your website in the right way. You might need to adapt the message to another language so it sounds as persuasively as in the original version, and work efficiently on your target audience.
Whether you translate it on your own or order a professional translator to do that, there are several important factors when translating an international website.
You need to localize your translation. In different languages, people use different words to transmit the same information. Very often, the sense of a sentence cannot be translated word-by-word so that people to understand it well. You can find some examples of language differences here.
When internationalizing your website, you should also take into account the cultural differences between people and the way they perceive information.
Cultural Differences and Website Design
You should change the web design of different language versions depending on the way people in your target market prefer consuming information.
For example, Japanese and Chinese prefer many images and graphics, while in Western European countries people prefer strict minimalism, especially if it concerns more formal websites concerning business.
Such details are often a market standard. You might think that by using a static image instead of a slider, you will have a competitive advantage, but in reality, this is the industry standard, and people will be expecting a slider.
Not to make mistakes from the beginning, analyze your competition, and especially the most successful websites in the target market.
Cultural Differences when Transferring Information
Each country has its own customs, traditions and a different attitude to the same things. You should also consider it when internationalizing your website.
Before translating the text and its sense to another language, learn about the target market’s culture, traditions, values and opinion about the most controversial issues.
Since the increasing level of globalization and internationalization, there have been many studies of cultural differences in international business and ways to learn them faster.
Dutch social physiologist Geert Hofstede proposed probably the best theory of cultural differences, known as Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory. He distinguished six dimensions of cultural differences important in international communication. They are:
- Power Distance Index (PDI). This index means the power distribution in the society, and to what extent individuals expect it both in organizations, and in ordinary life.
- Individualism vs. collectivism(IDV). This dimension represents how integrated individuals in groups are.
- Uncertainty avoidance index(UAI) – society’s tolerance for ambiguity
- Masculinity vs. femininity(MAS) – level of society’s preference for heroism, achievement and material rewards for success.
- Long-term orientation vs. short-term orientation(LTO) – connection of the past with the current and future actions.
- Indulgence vs. restraint(IND) – measure of happiness; or if the simple joys are fulfilled
Using this tool, you can compare the culture of your country with the new market, where you are planning to expand. By choosing the right countries, you will not only find scores in the cultural dimensions, but also get detailed interpretations of them.
Difference in Lifestyle
Another difference that can influence the way you should target your new audience is the difference in lifestyle and habits. Where do they prefer ordering services that you sell? Where do they search for relevant information and reviews of different products?
The international marketing strategy of your website will highly depend on that. Depending on the customer habits, you might want to reach out influencers in social media, write reviews for relevant local websites, create videos, advertise on YouTube, TV, newspapers or collaborate with offline stores.
Otherwise, you will simply lose money and time.
To avoid that, you should always conduct a deep market research before taking any actions. It takes time too, but you won’t make any big mistakes in the consequence.
Another very important factor of your website internationalization success is an efficient local SEO strategy. Local SEO is a set of activities to rank in Google in your target market (including language, location and people).
This can be achieved by the following activities:
- Creating a new language version for the website or buying a new domain. There are different ways how the final url will look like.
For example, if you’re expanding to the Spanish market, Spanish version’s url might look the following ways: es.yourwebsite.com, yourwebsite.es, yourwebsite.com/es/, yourwebsite.com/es-ES/.
The first one is the least recommended for SEO purposes. The second one means buying a new domain and creating the website anew. It allows more flexibility and more internationalization and localization of your website, but takes much more time. Third and fourth options are similar, while the last one includes not only language, but also a country.
For example, if you want to target separately Spain and Mexico, the Mexican url will be yourwebsite.com/es-MX/. You might need it in case if you are a news website (Spanish news will be much less relevant for Mexicans), if you sell offline products separately in Mexico and Spain and in some other cases.
- Working on link building from websites in your target location. For example, you might write a guest post for a local online newspaper, be active in local forums and blogs, and so on.
- Get local business listings. If you have a registered company, some portals allow you to add your local business listing. The most famous ones are Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp.
- Add location to your titles. To improve your local SEO, you can also add location into the titles of your pages. For example, instead of ‘Car Repair Services’, write ‘Car Repair Services in Detroit’.
- Add a map and address to your website. To increase traffic from your target location, you can also add a map and your business address to your website.
These are just some of the local SEO activities that you can do to improve your position in search engines of the target market. Website internationalization is not an easy process, and it requires help of experienced professionals, so…
Social Media in Different Languages
When you try to go global with your website, you should also work on social media to reach the target audience in the new market. There are several ways to do that.
Use Graphics or Videos
If it is enough to show pictures or videos to sell your product or service, or you want to work more on building the brand image, you don’t have to write texts in each of the target languages to reach the right people.
You can post beautiful pictures or videos with your perfectly designed product along with the brand name (can be a laptop, a car, a dish from your restaurant and much more). People start wanting it regardless of the country they live in. In case of the right presentation of it and the brand name, they will associate this kind of products with your brand.
You can also use nice infographics to show benefits of your product or service. They might include some English words that the target audience will probably understand even if they don’t speak English.
Some other intercultural standards will deliver your message internationally without the need of extra words: music, joy, fun, communication and much more.
These international standards are well represented in this Heineken commercial:
Create New Social Media Pages
If your new audience doesn’t understand the language you already use in your social media accounts or there is a need to adapt your message to the local specifics, you can create separate pages for each of the languages and target countries.
The largest companies very often use this way when they internationalize their online activities. Nevertheless, some social media allow you to simplify the process and avoid creating new pages.
Multilingual Social Media Accounts
Some of the world’s largest social media realized that the globalization is only speeding up, it became much easier to internationalize, both offline and online, and many companies try to go global, and make their websites and social media multilingual.
Now, Facebook and Google+ have multilingual features available. Here are the things you need to know when using them.
- On Facebook, if you turn on a multilingual function in settings, you will be able to translate each post into as many languages as you wish. Don’t forget to take into account the way people deliver the same message in different languages, their cultural differences, attitude to the same issues and differences in lifestyle.
- Google+. Having a wide range of services and functions, Google is trying to interconnect them as much as possible. That is why, they launched a ‘translate’ button in Google+ social network using Google Translator. Of course, it has the same problems as you usually encounter with Google Translator: it is far not perfect, neither is any other automatic translator. To maximize the chance that your message is translated correctly among a wide range of languages, avoid the play of words, phraseologies, proverbs, local jokes, too long or too short sentences.
It was in short the process of website internationalization and localization. There are many other details you need to know when going global both online and offline. Not to make any major mistakes, order internationalization services from professionals right now!