Internet commerce is one of the best things to happen to the commercial industry. With it, customers from all over the world can flock to your business and shop as if they were right in your neighborhood.
Provided they can find your site, of course.
The Internet is a big place, and customers in foreign markets are more likely to patronize a website from their region and in their own language than they are yours. Is there a way to draw customers to your website, despite the language, regional, and cultural barriers?
Yes, and it’s called globalization.
What is Globalization?
Website globalization is the process of optimizing your website for international audiences. This process can be broken down into two tasks:
- Localization. This is the part of your website that features translated text, so that customers from other countries can read and navigate your site. All outward-facing copy is translated, and a web site can be localized for multiple languages.
- Globalization. Here, you try to make your website more attractive to foreign search engines. This means doing all of the website back-end stuff you did for your English site, only for another language: SEO keywords and the like.
What are the Advantages?
Globalization can provide your business with the following benefits:
- Greater reach. Now that your website has been optimized for foreign language search engines, it will start ranking higher on foreign search results. You have a higher chance of getting traffic from two different markets.
- Better accessibility. Now that your website is attracting foreign traffic, your freshly localized copy should be making it easy for them to navigate and peruse your website. This is the first step in giving them an excellent customer service experience.
- Stronger calls to action. Sales copy has a higher chance of success in foreign markets if it is translated accordingly. Assuming, of course, that you’ve used proper translations and not just Google Translate, which can get things hilariously wrong.
Who Should I Approach?
Although many graphic design firms are perfectly willing to globalize a website, provided you have the translated copy available, it’s probably best to search for companies that are experienced in this kind of project. Companies that optimize websites for SEO already know which of the back-end fields are important, and need translation. Also, in a project like this you need the agency to have qualities like consistency and thoroughness; because Quality Assurance and testing are going to be doubly hard now that you’re using another language.
The translation, however, is going to be the most important aspect of your project. I’ve already mentioned the dangers of Google Translate, and it bears repeating. The risk of appearing unprofessional is too high. It’s much better if you go to a professional linguist or translation service. They will convert your copy to the correct language, and can even work with your web developers on translating the back-end details properly, such as file names, meta descriptions, and keywords.
With the cooperation of both the translator and web development team, you’ll end up with a fully translated, foreign-search engine-optimized site. Just make sure that you don’t leave your site static. Do promotions and advertisements to let your customers know that your newly localized site is out there!