To reach people worldwide, you need to get their culture and language right. Make your website familiar and inviting. Those are the crucial elements of localization.
How do you conquer a global audience? We can draw our inspiration from the Ottoman and Mongol Empires. These empires lasted for hundreds of years and covered vast world territories.
They had many subjects, yet let them keep their languages and costumes. The localization of multilingual websites utilizes the same principle.
Localization is not just about sound and native translation. People must understand the content to interact with it, but localization revolves around understanding a culture. You need to be versed in slang, local context, history, and current events.
A multilingual website has many benefits, but you need good localization to enjoy them. It can provide better rankings, higher conversion rates, and a top position on the search results page.
What Is Localization?
Localization is adapting a website to be culturally and regionally appropriate. It’s reworking the content, design, and user experience to align with cultural norms and preferences.
You must adjust technical elements like date and currency formats and visual components, images, color schemes, or layout. Every detail, from the choice of words to the style of graphics, should be fine-tuned to ensure cultural relevance.
Localization is creating an online space where the target audience feels at home. The key is for a website to feel locally crafted and connected to its visitors.
A website for Italian users should mirror the Italian emphasis on community and family values. You can achieve this through images of gatherings or references to local traditions.
A German audience, known for their detail-oriented nature, might appreciate in-depth information and a straightforward layout. For a website targeting the Indian market, consider the many regional languages used nationwide.
Localizing is like tailoring a suit – it needs to fit the cultural physique of your users. The better you understand their preferences and expectations, the more engaging and successful your website will be.
Internationalization means developing a website so it’s adapted for different languages without needing changes to the source code. Internationalization makes localization possible.
Design a flexible layout compatible with different languages, like the ones read from right to left, like Arabic or Hebrew. Or for languages with unique characters, such as Chinese or Japanese.
Coding for Locales
The website’s code should handle various regional settings. This includes different date formats, currencies, time zones, number formats, and address formats.
Design and Cultural Sensitivity
Make the design elements, such as visuals, icons, and color schemes culturally neutral or adaptable to different cultural contexts.
Keep in mind how certain symbols, images, and colors can have varied meanings across cultures. What is positive or neutral in one might be offensive or carry a completely different meaning in another.
For example yellow has diverse symbolism. In Africa and the Middle East, it signifies wealth and status. In Japan, it’s a royal color of bravery and prosperity. But in China, yellow is often linked to pornography.
You need a content management system capable of handling multiple languages. It should allow for the translation and display of dynamic content.
One option is to code the CMS from the search. Another option is to use a web builder like Divhunt and others who already have developed CMS suitable for sites with multiple languages.
Legal and Regulatory Compliance
The website must follow the legal and regulatory requirements of different countries. It should adhere to data privacy laws, accessibility standards, and other local regulations.
Multilingual SEO makes your site visible and discoverable. Consider regional behaviors and preferences when optimizing for search engines.
Choose the Right Keywords
Start by researching keywords in each target language. There are better ways to go than direct translations. You must understand what terms the local audience uses when searching for your services or content.
Use Hreflang Tags
These HTML tags inform search engines about a web page’s language and geographical targeting. They’ll help you avoid duplicate content issues in multilingual SEO. The correct language version of your site will appear in search results.
Optimize for Local Search Engines
While Google dominates globally, some regions prefer local search engines—for example, Baidu in China or Yandex in Russia. Understand the specifics of these search engines and optimize for them.
Build Local Links
Get links from local sources relevant to your target market. You’ll increase the credibility of your site in local search results.
Local Social Media Platforms
In some regions, local social media platforms may be more prevalent than global ones. Engaging with these platforms can boost your SEO and increase visibility.
By following these steps, you’ll ensure that your website is linguistically and culturally adapted. But it’s also well-optimized to rank in search engines across different regions. To learn more check out our Ultimate SEO Checklist.
Exact phrases or words can have different meanings in various languages. The Internet culture varies across countries. Consider factors like cultural norms, legal policies, and economic development.
China has an extensive user base, but the government heavily regulates access to the internet. “The Great Firewall of China” blocks many Western websites and platforms.
Users rely on WeChat and Weibo for communication and networking. Consider government regulations and local platforms when creating content for the Chinese audience.
Emojis are considered a universal form of communication. But they carry different meanings and connotations across various cultures. This disparity can sometimes lead to misinterpretations or even offense if incorrectly used.
Baby Angel is a symbol of innocence and purity in Western cultures. In China, it indicates someone’s death or even serves as a threat.
Pile of Poo has literal meaning or to express silliness in many cultures. In Japan, wishes good luck due to a wordplay in the Japanese language.
Thumbs-ups are a sign of approval in many parts of the world. In countries like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Greece, and Nigeria, it isn’t very respectful, having the same meaning as the middle finger.
Clapping hands represent applauding in many Western countries. In China, it can be interpreted as an invitation to the bedroom. Crossed Fingers: A symbol of good luck in countries like the UK, US, and Canada, are offensive in Vietnam, where it’s associated with female genitalia.
OK, Hand Gesture is a sign of agreement in the US and UK, wealth in Japan, and zero in France and Tunisia. But it’s offensive in Brazil, Greece, and the Middle East. Be very careful when you use different emojis to localize content.
Difference Between Dialects
Understanding various dialects is crucial for website localization. The Spanish language varies across Spain and Latin American countries. A term used in Mexico might be unfamiliar in Spain or Argentina.
Arabic varies across Arab-speaking countries having many dialects. A word or phrase in Egyptian Arabic might have no equivalent in Gulf Arabic or can even mean something entirely different.
When it comes to localization in such scenarios, you need to adapt content specifically for the target dialect. This adaptation requires a deep understanding of local idioms, cultural nuances, and preferences.