Website Localization: First Step to Gain Your Global Customers’ Trust!
What happens when you click on a website in an unfamiliar language? 99% of visitors will get frustrated und leave. Your global customers face a similar challenge when interacting with your business online.
In the majority of cases your website is the first touchpoint for potential customers. Most users make a decision to leave or stay on a website within the first 10 to 30 seconds. Having a multilingual user interface that makes it easy for a new visitor to quickly navigate through your website in their native language will increase the likelihood of engagement. Offering a multilingual website as part of your global marketing initiatives can make the difference between a bounce or initial buy-in, which might ultimately result in a sales conversion. eviom has 5 tips for you on how to get perfectly localized in the European Market!
1. Recognize Language Varieties in Europe
Europe is one of the largest and most valuable markets in the world, and at the same time the most complicated one. There are over 50 countries with 24 official languages, thus appropriate website localization in a linguistic and cultural way is an essential challenge.
- English-only Website Is Inefficient
“It’s a world of globalization, why not just reach foreign customers with an international website in English!” Unfortunately, English-only websites do not appeal to a global audience. Data from Common Sense Advisory, a leading market research firm, has shown that 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language, while 72.4% of consumers are more likely to buy a product when information is available in their own language.
In Europe, only 8% of the residents speak English as their first language. English-only websites mean that near 700 million users whose native language is German, French, Italian etc. cannot trust you enough to buy.
- Localize Website≠Translate Website
Website localization goes way beyond word-for-word translation, alternatively, text without context is always inaccurate. Sometimes a very familiar term in English may not even exist in the glossary of your target market’s language. The content that gets published for a foreign audience should be directed by the results of an early planning stage, meaning, market analysis and keyword research.
It is essential to ensure that all content selected for translation is culturally correct, as maximum success will be achieved in the target markets if the site grasps the locale-specific cultural values. A more-detailed process will be explained in the following parts.
2. Realize Friendly Multilingual User Experience
There are 5 important features you should take a close look at, in order to improve the user experience in all of your target countries:
- Language Selection– make it easy for new users to select their language ideally broken down by type. Give users the option to select their language type written in their language as well.
- Language Detection, Cookies, Local Storage and User Profiles– Presenting your website in a visitor’s native language automatically can improve your visitors’ experience. There are ways to detect the language of the user’s browser, then serve up the website in that language or ask them to confirm their language preference. And it’s possible to store that information in a user profile, with cookies (restricted in many EU countries without notification or other considerations), or with HTML local storage.
- Dynamic Navigation and Layout – navigation for your translated site is critical to helping users select the language they need, and immediately start interacting with your site in an authentic way.
Depending on the percentage of localized content in your website, you have two options to make your site’s layout and navigation adapt to non-localized content. Assuming the default language is English: if 70% of the website content has been translated into German, presenting non-localized content in the default language English will not scare away your German visitors; however, if there is one English blog article on your Chinese page, you’d better remove it because average native Chinese visitor might feel alienated and then leave the page.
- Proper Font Sizing – Different languages even in the same font tend to display in varied sizes. For example, English texts tend to have less detail and are smaller than Chinese, but often also require more characters to convey the same message.
You can solve this by specifying readable font sizes for each of your localized websites that corresponds well with how a language is displayed in that font. Ideally 16pt in English or other Latin alphabet language is a very legible size for any device even if not widely used.
- Translated text in images and videos – whether you use text or voice-overs embedded in the images or videos, make sure all of them are easy to understand by your visitors. Because this text cannot be automatically translated like the other content on the page, it often falls through the cracks and is left to display in the original language.
You can avoid this by not embedding text in images or reedit your graphics using tools like SVG that is also indexable for SEO purposes.
3. Optimize for local search engine
Localize your SEO strategy to rank higher in search engine results and make potential customers find you easier. In the same way Baidu dominates search in China, Google is the main player in the European search market which your SEO efforts should be focused on.
Cultural gaps are quickly reflected in the way people use search engines. Don’t assume that translating keywords will do the job. Seek the advice of local natives on the ground is the best way to ensure you’re using the right vocabulary.
You also need to translate and optimize all meta descriptions, alt tags and anchor texts. And, last but not least, you’ll have to build backlinks from local websites in the language in question, as part of local SEO.
4. Customize social media channels
In addition to catering to the Google search engine, it’s also imperative to have a presence on European popular social platforms. Unlike in China, social media channels include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. Even traditional methods like Email and contact forms are also widely used in Europe.
This is the space where you can add competitive distance to your competitors, build brand awareness and gain a strong foothold in the European marketplace.
5. Do not forget localization for mobile phones
Not only in China but also in Europe, mobile web browsing has seen a significant increase due to the rising use of smartphones with wireless internet connectivity. Thus do not forget also to convert your website’s structure for small screen use at the last step! Your developers are supposed to:
- scale a site for small screens as well as arrange pages and buttons for easy tapping and scrolling
- take browser compatibility in your target market into consideration
- redesign components including layout, page navigation, font size, certain images and videos
If you would like to be internationally successful with your business, high-quality website localization is one of the most important aspects you should focus on. Partnering together with local experts can help you get a full suite of translation and localization services as well as technology to streamline the process. Contact us for your first step into European market!