As a business owner, you will know how important the role of a well thought-through strategy and a solid and focused plan is.
The same principles apply to website localisation. A business-driven internationalisation strategy and a good plan are key. But before even drawing up a plan for website localisation, there are also some key decisions that you have to make. These decisions will affect your ability to grow online in the future and may impact how well your business performs in your chosen new market/s.
In this post I am outlining three key decisions that must be made before building a localised website, i.e. firstly, choosing an appropriate domain strategy for internationalisation; secondly, deciding on scope and overall approach to website localisation; and thirdly, selecting a translation approach that best meets your requirements.
Choosing a future-proof and appropriate domain strategy
Choosing your long-term international domain strategy is a very important decision, as this will directly impact the visibility of your localised website/s as well as the resources and effort required to create and maintain this visibility.
When deciding on the best way to expand your online presence into other markets, the first step is to look at your current domain strategy, as your international domain strategy ideally should evolve from that, leveraging the domain authority and brand recognition you have built via your current domain. However, in my experience, often the initial decision on domain name and domain strategy goes back several years and was made without much consideration of future internationalisation and thus may need to be adapted or changed to better support internationalisation from herevon.
In terms of deciding what type of domain strategy is most suitable for internationalisation, there are 3 main options available to choose from: ccTLDs (country code top-level domains), subfolders and the use of subdomain. Each of these domain strategies has its own pros and cons.
Deciding on scope and overall approach to website localisation
Successful website localisation projects typically don’t involve creating a simple copy of the website for the domestic market. The new localised website may be a subset or, in rare cases, a superset of the domestic website. Some of the pages or the content may also be different, for example because of different services/products sold in the new market, different legal requirements and simply as a result of addressing different target audiences.
Decisions on scope and approach to website localisation therefore will be driven by your business requirements as well as features of new market you are targetting.
Key areas to consider in this context are:
- Business strategy: What are your goals for the export market? What is your presence in that market today and what do you want to achieve? What is your sales and market approach for the new market? What products and/or services will you sell in the new market?
- Role of website in the chosen export market: How important is web presence to reach your target customers in this new market? What is the role of the website in the overall sales and market strategy for this new market? Is it mainly for brand awareness, lead generation, and/or e-commerce transactions or something else entirely ?
- Company internal factors: What resources – people, skills, budget – do have available for building and maintaining this new market? What resources and skills do you have available to support the website – website maintenance, query handling, digital marketing, content updates, websites changes – after the website launches in the market?
- External market-driven factors: What does the competitive landscape for your products/services in this market look like? What kind of websites do your export market competitors have and what marketing tactics to they employ?
Selecting a translation approach that best meets your requirements
Following decisions on the scope and approach to website localisation, your next and final key decision decision to take is what approach to chose for translation – assuming, your target market speaks a different language to your domestic market.
The translation approach you take will have a big impact on quality and resulting resonance with users, search visibility, speed of delivery, and cost. The three main options are human translation, transcreation or machine translation, or more precisely post-editing machine translation, as raw machine translation is raraly a real choice.
Typically the translation approach is a mix of the above, e.g. for some pages translation will suffice, whereas other pages need transcreation, i.e. a re-creation of the message, rather than a translation of words, for the new target market audience.
Last but not least, SEO must of course not be forgotten in this approach, i.e. how to chose the most suitable target market language keywords and incorporate them in the translated or transcreated new content. Unfortunately, no machine translation will this for you and only few translators will have the required knowledge.
While it can be tempting to rush into a website localisation project, taking a bit of time at the start and considering the above decisions with regard to website localisation will pay off in the long term – both in terms of the success of your localised website and also in terms of wisely allocating your budget and resources.
If you need assistance with any of the important decisions above, just contact us at Glocafy and we will be happy to have discuss this with you in more detail based on your specific situation and requirements.