Your website is like the digital front door of your business, and it needs to make your visitors feel welcome. The truth is, a website can make or break a global brand, which is why some of the biggest brands—like Nike, McDonalds, Microsoft and Apple, among others—have all invested heavily into the localization of their websites.

Here are a few of the key benefits and strategies around the localization of websites—plus a few extra tips for getting it right!

What are the key benefits of website localization?

Website localization helps you create an online experience that attracts audiences that differ by location, language and culture. It’s not just translating your content but also ensuring that your messaging takes cultural differences into account. 

See also: Translation vs. localization: What’s the difference and why should you care?

Why is website localization so important?

Firstly, localization of websites helps ensure that you’re not losing out on potential customers purely because you’re not sharing information in their language. 

In fact, 55% of consumers prefer to buy exclusively in their native language, and Germany and France are among the top list of countries that prefer to purchase in their mother tongue. This is why you should priotize localizing your website if you’re targeting these two European countries specifically.

See also: US vs. German marketing content: Why localization is key

If done well, the main benefit of localizing your website is boosting your sales in new regions.

But there are also many other long-term benefits, including:

  • Helping you engage with an extended audience
  • Reaching new customers through SEO rankings
  • Creating a personalized experience for your audience
  • Building a global brand
  • Staying ahead of the competition
  • Building trust among your customers
  • Boosting your brand integrity
  • Reducing friction in the path to purchase 

See also: SEO localization for multilingual websites: What is it and why is it necessary?

“I think your website should absolutely be localized to wherever you’re targeting because there’s no point in people going to a global site and not seeing content that’s relevant for them. They want to see that you know their market, and also their pain points and problems.” – Sharon Cronin, Ireland-based marketing manager at Schneider Electric

If you’re entering a new local market, download our practical worksheet to ensure your brand’s content strategy resonates with your target audience.

How to localize a website in three stages

The key to successful website localization is ensuring that each page makes sense in a linguistic and cultural context for each country. To get this right, there are three stages that you need to go through: internationalization, translation and localization.

1. Website internationalization

Website internationalization comes into play at the developmental stage of your website, and lays the foundation of website localization by ensuring the infrastructure is adaptable.

For example, programmers can use specific encoding standards like Unicode, which supports all languages. Doing so takes care of common website localization issues like date formats, decimals, currency and string character limits.

See also: Top 7 localization tools to optimize all your digital content

Building localized websites

2. Website translation

Website translation is the process of translating all the source text into the target language.

All translation agencies today use professional translation software for the first step of this process. However, it’s absolutely pivotal that the translated text is then thoroughly edited and adapted by a professional translator with knowledge of both your brand and the region you’re trying to target. If you can get a second round of editing, even better.

To deliver an excellent adaptation, you also need to hire a professional editor—preferably one who lives in the region that you’re trying to target—to thoroughly edit the text before publishing. At VeraContent, we work with translators and content creators around Europe, each specializing in their region. 

See also: How to build successful relationships with local community managers

3. Website localization

Next up is localizing the content on your website. Localization doesn’t only convert words but also meaning, emotion, channel, culture, visual elements and context. 

A website needs to be fully localized to relate with each audience—simply making it multilingual is not enough.

Localization extends beyond getting the terminology right; it also includes visual elements like photos, infographics, call-to-action icons and videos. You want to make the whole user experience natural in every language.

See also: Website translation and localization: 6 key steps

Localized website elements

Tips for localization of websites

Here are a few tips to keep in mind during the website localization process.

1. Start by identifying your key target markets 

The website localization process can be costly. And the more languages you localize in, the higher the costs become. So, instead of localizing your website into many different languages, first identify your core customer base.

Analyze which countries are likely to bring in greater ROI from a localization perspective and start with those countries first. It’s better to start with fewer localized websites that you know will be beneficial than spend too much time and resources on countries you’re unsure about. Remember, new markets may open up in the future.

If you want to target several new markets at the same time but don’t have a large budget, you don’t necessarily have to invest in localizing your entire website at once. Even with just a few key pages localized for each target country, you should gain traffic and improve search engine rankings for that country.

According to a report from Common Sense Advisory, the most important pages to localize are post-sales support, user reviews and navigation.

2. Be thoughtful of your website layout, images and font

Different languages require different layouts and fonts. For example, English speakers read from left to right while Arabic speakers read from right to left. Not all fonts cater for all languages, and different languages use varying character counts to say the same thing.

Font wise, Arial Unicode MS (Sans Serif), Myriad Pro (Sans Serif) and Times New Roman (Serif) are great options for more straightforward translation. Also, design your website to be flexible to changes in text allowance.

It’s also good to avoid using images with text, as changing text embedded in an image requires much more effort.

See also: 5 ways to ensure a quality localization – even if you don’t speak the language

How to localize a website

3. Localize all website elements

Your text is the most obvious element to localize, but don’t forget about images, infographics and videos. Closely review all images looking at things like clothing styles and hand gestures to ensure that they are culturally relevant and relatable.

See also: Inclusive content: Why it matters and how to get started

4. Follow the same brand guidelines

It’s important to follow the same principle brand guidelines on each of your localized websites, from image styles and colors to writing styles and punctuation. When you follow set guidelines for things like date styles, you help maintain uniformity in your multilingual website

5. Make it easy to switch between languages

All visitors to your website should be able to easily switch to different translations. Many websites use the globe icon to direct users to the different translations available. You can also use a toggle switch at the top of your website if you only have two languages. 

Tip: List languages in their native names and spelling rather than defaulting to English for all language names.

The website localization process

Need help localizing your website?

Localizing your website takes time and involves research and local knowledge to connect with customers in new markets. While it may be tempting to automate as much of the process as possible, it’s always better when a professional is involved. 

At VeraContent, we can help you ensure that your content is tailored for each of your country-specific websites, as well as your social media channels. Reach out to us today, and discover how our team of expert translators and localization professionals can make your content stand out in over 20 languages. 

For more on the website localization process, check out these posts: