Our world has never been so interconnected: half of the global population speaks two languages and we can access cultural contents from all around the world in just a few clicks. However, we realize that sometimes we have troubles mastering the local variations and specificities of a language and its cultural codes. This is why you may want to go beyond the “traditional” translation and use localization service providers to have your website localized and optimized. What is “Localization”? The process of localization intends to make sure that the content is adapted to the linguistic and cultural characteristics of the target audience.
Let’s have a closer look.
Vocabulary and grammar
If a computer company wants to have its website translated, its localization specialist will most likely use the word “ordenador” for the Spanish version, and “computadora” for the Argentinian version. We observe the same adaptations with grammar. For example, the way of addressing someone varies between regions. In Spain, they will use “tú” in an informal context and “usted” in a formal context. In Argentina or in Uruguay, you will create a closer relationship with your target clients if you say “vos” instead of “tú”. Indeed, by using their local linguistic variations, they will feel that you are talking directly to them.
Your target audience has to be intrigued by the images you choose, that goes without saying. However, they also have to identify with your representations. For example, if you want to sell your products in Sweden, and in your ad, you only present tanned characters with black eyes and dark eyes, your campaign may not be very successful as the Swedish consumers are more receptive to paler people with blue eyes and blond hair. However, this process has to be done carefully. Indeed, the IKEA polemic in 2012 shows that some people can be offended by these adaptations. The brand tried to adapt its catalog to the Saudi Arabian customs by removing the female characters, but instead, it was singled out for blame and accused of disregarding gender equity.
When localizing a website, the choice of colors has to be taken seriously. Indeed, one color can have a meaning in one country and a completely different one in another. For instance, in Occident, green is associated with luck, health and youth; but in China, it is the color of deception and lies. If we take the example of McDonald’s logo, we realize that this pioneer of marketing strategy does not take colors lightly. In the United States, the famous “M” is yellow on a red background, whereas in France, it is yellow on a green background. If the restaurant chain decided to change the color of its logo in France, it is because it was largely associated with junk food and because their industrial aspect was highly criticized. On the other hand, in the home country of the brand, this facet of the company did not bother the Americans that much.
Location of the information
Some clients might find it difficult to understand why translators sometimes change the structure of the information and remove or add details when they adapt a content to another country. Actually, researchers observed the movements of the eyes of web users — “eye-tracking” —, and they demonstrated that the location of key information is different from one culture to another.
Optimization of a website
Nowadays, when people have to look up information, they almost always use a search engine. Therefore, it is only normal that you want your website to appear in the top results. But, it means that SEO robots must be able to find your website. To that end, robots go through the keywords you inserted in your text, formatting, and tags invisible to the users. If you want your website to be visible, there is another thing you have to pay attention to the external links redirecting to your own website. The best way to get a higher position in the results of the search engine is to make sure that a reference site in your sector has a link redirecting to you.
In the “Global Village” we live in, marketing strategists are competing to increase the visibility of their company. If you want to stand out from the competition, a simple translation of your website is not enough anymore. To reach your target audience, there are two keys for success: localization and multilingual SEO.