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Localization and SEO: 5 things to know before creating a multilingual website

By June 22, 2023No Comments

For individuals employed in the tourism industry and aiming to attract international tourists, the crucial moment has undeniably arrived when the necessity to “translate” their website becomes apparent.

This endeavor might appear trivial to inexperienced individuals, a mere item to add to their schedule, perhaps by seeking assistance from a knowledgeable “relative” proficient in English or German. However, those familiar with the subject comprehend the significant challenges inherent in such an undertaking. Expanding one’s communication and marketing efforts to international markets is not a minor task and necessitates careful evaluation. Consider, for instance, the contrasting perspectives of a foreign customer and an Italian in their everyday lives. It is from this standpoint that we can grasp that the task at hand involves more than mere “translation,” but rather a comprehensive linguistic and cultural adaptation that calls for a well-targeted strategy known as localization.

But let’s go step by step, here are 5 things to know before creating a multilingual website to dispel some of the myths of “just translate the website.”

1# Localization stems from thorough market analysis

Before embarking on this process, the tour operator cannot bypass some crucial steps that justify their decision. Firstly, conducting a preliminary data analysis to validate the interest of a potential market is imperative. Once identified, it becomes essential to comprehend the browsing and search patterns of these users and, prior to engaging a professional, to implement all the necessary technical precautions that would also facilitate the professional’s work (appropriate domain, Google parameters). We have addressed these technical aspects in detail within this article.

It is important to remember that every localization strategy is not an isolated task but should be integrated into a comprehensive internationalization objective that encompasses the entire business.

2# Localization entails cultural adjustment

Our perception and communication with the world predominantly rely on non-verbal elements. Likewise, technology assumes the responsibility of converting non-verbal elements into a digital interface, enabling users to engage with content that aligns with their cultural expectations. Thus, localization must consider cultural references, implicit norms, and cognitive biases.

Localization represents a subsequent stage following mere translation, involving a process of “transcreation” that precisely adapts the text to the distinct nuances of language, geographical region, and target culture. The aim is to convey the same original meaning while employing a different form and “content.” The underlying semantics remain intact, but they are transferred and situated within an entirely new linguistic and cultural context.

The ultimate objective is to establish a functional and user-friendly website that mirrors the original language.

3# Multilingual SEO goes beyond mere translation

Considering Google’s unique perspective, SEO serves as a technology that enhances the search experience through fundamental principles: relevance, authority, and usability. To develop content that meets these criteria, it becomes crucial to analyze the implicit and explicit search intent of users and address the entire customer journey.

In the realm of international SEO, it is insufficient (and even counterproductive) to merely translate Italian keywords into the target language within an Excel sheet. Literal translation can only aid in the initial brainstorming phase on a blank canvas. Subsequently, specific and localized keyword research must be conducted for each individual country or region. The chosen keywords must closely align with the search intentions of the target audience, as search intent can vary based on the geographical market and numerous cultural factors that should never be underestimated.

4# Infrastructure and localization are intertwined

When developing a digital product, localization should be integrated seamlessly, yet often design and content creation occur separately. Localization entails the inclusion of new text fields, graphic adaptations, and constant collaboration with web design. As a result, localizers and web developers should never work in isolation but rather in close collaboration, conducting all necessary tests for readability and usability, such as A/B testing. This collaborative effort aims to deliver an efficient and effective digital product tailored to a specific audience.

A concrete example pertains to space constraints. For instance, “Input processing features” in English may become “Eingabeverarbeitungsfunktionen” in German due to the language’s tendency towards nominal composition. Web design should also consider adapting graphic elements and buttons to accommodate various languages within the available space.

5# The key lies in relying on professionals

As a final piece of advice, it is essential to invest not only in direct translation but also in adapting the lexicon to the target market with the assistance of professionals who specialize in creating, translating, and adapting content optimized for multilingual SEO.

As evident, multiple skills intersect: a strong foundation in translation theory, expertise in localization for adaptation, proficiency in UX writing for microcopies (buttons, error messages, registration), and SEO competencies.

Entrusting your project to experts entails designing products and services for people by utilizing visuals and words, as non-verbal digital cues and experiences guide interactions. Without words, design remains hollow.

With experienced professionals, you can embark on a journey to gradually establish your online presence in new markets. Collaborating and providing necessary preparatory tools, which can be defined together—such as market analysis, buyer persona, tone of voice, and editorial guidelines—are crucial to supporting the expert.

Only then can you embark on the exciting adventure of internationalization!

XeniaPro offers a team of multilingual consultants to cater to all your expansion requirements. Share your project details with us! 😉