The internet connects businesses to consumers globally.
Language provides the next crucial level of connection. It connects people.
If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is the importance of online presence. It has changed the perspective of many businesses and with it, their way of conducting business.
During the pandemic, due to lockdowns and movement controls, businesses are forced to look beyond their domestic markets for survival.
To reach out to the global market, an online presence is only the beginning. You need to have an international website that will appeal to diverse audiences and convince them to buy from you.
Bytelevel research recently published the 2021 Web Globalization Report Card highlighted the top 25 global websites. These websites have one thing in common: they are all multilingual sites.
The report also indicated that over the years, to extend their global reach, the average number of languages supported by these websites increased from an average of 12 in 2005 to 33 in 2020.
For example, Facebook now supports 111 languages from an initial 2 in 2005, while Apple started with 18 languages, now covers 35 languages. Generally, these global websites doubled the languages supported over the years.
How to create an international website with a local reach?
Reach out Globally with your existing website
Global architecture is the internationalization aspect of web-globalization.
You must start with the mindset that countries have a border, but your business does not.
As visitors to your website often navigate across the different locales and pages, it is thus important to ensure a certain level of consistency in your website across the board to avoid confusion. This level of consistency will also help build your global brand, making your products and services easily recognized by global consumers.
In terms of its architecture, you must ensure that your website can support not just desktop display but also mobile, tablet and other popular devices. This allows you to tap on the online viewing and search habits of consumers from different locales and it also provides a better user experience.
To accommodate a multilingual website, your website must be ready for internationalization. This means your overall website architecture must be set up to handle different languages. You would need to navigate the translation, storage, and timely publication of your multilingual content.
As such, you must invest in a multilingual CMS that will allow you to manage and handle the localization of the content of your website.
It is certainly making more business to have your website infrastructure ready for internationalization from the beginning.
Create a multilingual website
Having an online presence allows easier entry into new markets. But that is only the very first step. To get past just catching the attention of global consumers, your global website needs to speak to them in their language.
According to Internet World Stats, as of March 2020, English, although is the most common language used on the internet, but at 25.9%, only accounts for 1/4 of the total number of users in cyberspace. In terms of internet user growth, the growth of Chinese speakers is 2650.4% compared to 742.9% for English speakers.
If you want to capture this non-English speaking international market, having a great product is only a minor battle won. To win the war, you need to connect with your global audiences using the languages they are most familiar with. Theirs.
By having a multilingual website, you extend your global reach immediately. Visitors to your site can choose to view your website in a language most familiar to them. This not only facilitates marketing communication but also has the psychological impact of drawing your brand closer to your global audience.
You have also read and seen examples of bad translations that ruin the reputations of businesses.
When you are localizing your website, make sure you engage a translation company that knows what they are doing. With a potentially massive website to be translated into multiple languages, it pays to work with a translation company with a certified translation process such as ISO 17100. Certification such as ISO 17100 ensures that the translations are done by qualified translators and that all translations go through a 4-eye quality assurance process by mandating that the translation and revision process be handled by independent linguists.
Choose to work with a translation company that will be able to support you for the long haul. It may be tempting to work with the cheapest vendor. Like most things in life, when you get peanuts, you get monkeys. Choose to work with a translation company that incorporates technology in their translation process. The translation company you work with must use Translation Memory (TM) to maintain a database of your approved translation. These TMs allow you to leverage past translation databases for future work. In the long run, you will see a significant reduction in the translation cost, a faster time-to-market for your localized contents and not to mention an increase in the quality and consistency of the translation output.
It may be tempting to go for the cheapest or worse, to use an online machine translation of some sort to localize your content. All we can say is that nothing will turn your customers away faster than a poorly and badly translated site. This will negatively impact the user experience and will potentially drive customers to your competitors.
Create a website that accepts multiple payment method and multiple currencies
With online shopping becoming more prevalent globally, making it more convenient for people to pay using different payment methods and in different currencies will not only enhance their online shopping experience on your website but will also encourage purchases.
When you are developing an international website, do include the above as part of your e-commerce component. Be mindful that there are different preferred methods of payment in different countries and that offering these locally trusted payment methods of choice will make it convenient for international customers to pay with peace of mind.
Create a Multi-Regional Website
While a multilingual website has content in more than one language, a multiregional website specifically targets users in different countries. This can include not just a translated version of the main website but also supporting it with locally generated content such as blogs, country-specific products, or services, and using different marketing strategies to target various demographics. These multiregional websites can greatly enhance the experience of local visitors.
Multilingual SEO ready website and local domain
Search engine optimization (SEO) has become an inevitable part of digital marketing. When done properly, it can increase visitor traffic to your website, exposing your business offerings to more people. Your international website must also be able to do the same in the local markets. This means getting your website multilingual SEO ready by adding multilingual SEO tags and localized keywords to ensure that your content will be found by your new markets.
Although .com is the most popular domain, do take note that there are other generic top-level domains such as .net, .biz, .info, etc, and country-specific top-level domains such as .uk, .sg, .cn, etc, that can be popular in their specific regions.
If you have a global expansion plan, you should consider registering international domains to avoid your company’s domain name abroad from being registered by other local companies. Purchasing these country-specific domain names can prove to be quite expensive and, in some cases, it may involve an unnecessary legal lawsuit.
To conclude, in your journey to create a world-ready website, your internationalization strategy must adequately cover the following aspects:
- Global Reach
- Global Architecture
- Global Navigation
To ensure the localization of your website is done successfully, you have to consider the following:
- Language planning
- Global design and redesign
- Localization trends
You can either put together a localization team to handle the localization of your website internally or you can choose to work with a reputable translation and localization company. Whichever way you choose to go, you must do it with the ultimate purpose of enhancing user experience of your global audiences and speak to them in their language.