The website is the online portal to your business and it presents your vision and mission to the world. Therefore, when it comes to preparing a new website for a foreign language market, you need to take into account all the necessary elements, including programming, video, flash. One of the major issues that you need to consider when preparing your website is the translation of the content and how it should be organized. If you want the translation process to be a success you need to take into account three main elements: content and layout; Content Management System (CMS) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Decide on the website content and layoutOne of the key decisions to make is whether you want to have multi-sites or a multi-language site. This decision will affect your overall online presence and will determine the translation strategy you are going to adopt. Below you can find what differentiates the two strategies and decide which one will be more efficient for you:
- If you decide to have a multisite, it means that you need to purchase your site’s name for the different countries and make sure that it is properly localized and relevant to the local readers. Adding a .de ending for your company website, for example, means that you have to buy a local .de domain for the German market. The advantage of this approach is that you appear more local and relevant for the specific country, which is great in terms of SEO and ranking. The multiple sites also give opportunity to build several high-quality backlinks between the sites. The drawback is that you need to buy and maintain several domains.
- If you embark on the multilanguage strategy, it means that you will have many languages on one site. In other words, if a user types your website with .de at the end the search engine will direct them to the German version of your main site and the specific section dedicated to German speakers. Overall, a multilanguage site is much easier to manage, however it may mean that you have to publish any new content in several languages simultaneously in order to keep all sections updated and coherent.
- Don’t translate word for word but localize the entire text so that it sounds right to the readers
- Use the right symbols – be it date format, currency or measurement units
- Apply culture-appropriate images of people and/or activities, products, etc.
- Change colors when necessary
Choose a proper Content Management System (CMS)A Content Management System is a computer application that helps create and modify digital content. These are systems designed specially to support the management of the content of web pages that feature format management, web-based publishing, history editing, search and many more. In other words, a good CMS will optimize the website localization process. It is important to choose a CSM that supports multiple languages and double check that the ones you need are included. There are some specific requirements for right-to-left languages such as Hebrew or Arabic, for Indian languages if India is your target market or double-bit scripts like Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Another important feature of the CMS that you need to manage your multilanguage site is to be flexible with source languages. This means that it should be able to cope with entries, comments or reviews coming from users from Poland, Spain, Egypt or the USA. If your CSM has a translation API it will enable you to publish content in several languages. You can also include some machine-translation solutions as a temporary decision. Anything that will automate the process without deteriorating the quality of your site is welcomed.
Select the best SEO strategyWhen you are entering a new market, you need to select the most appropriate SEO strategies that will work for your websites. Do not deceive yourself that your job is done by securing the best translation and localization process of your new websites. There are several effective multilingual SEO strategies that will ensure the overall success of your marketing campaign:
- Determine the right keywords or key phrases. Make a comprehensive list of the keywords or phrases that are relevant for each country, even though they might use the same language. This will guarantee that your website will come out in most of the searches. Take into account that Latin Americans do not search the internet the same way an European speaking Spanish will do, for example. Incorporating the cultural differences in the keywords that you include in your website will help you rank better.
- Consider the different search engines. While Google rules in the Western world, there are other search engines that are preferred by the users in the different countries. Yandex is popular in Russia and is gaining momentum in Turkey, Baidu is the choice of the Chinese, while Yahoo is preferred in Japan. This means that you will need to focus on the other engines as well as on Google if you want your website to be successful in the foreign markets you have targeted.
- Follow up on search engine updates. It is well known that search engines regularly update and improve their search result algorithms. Therefore, you need to stay tuned and update your SEO strategy as well. Make sure that you offer consistently good and friendly content that will likely rank higher.