During a relatively quiet week in August we received the following email from a prospective client: “Please contact us again in November of this year. We are currently rebuilding our site and are not yet ready to speak to a translation service. However our goal is to have our site in multiple languages shortly after the release of the source.”The person that sent the email is to be commended for committing to the goal of having her company’s website localized into multiple languages. Maybe the translation and localization industry is finally getting through to American companies about the need to speak their customer’s language.
But, what most professionals who contact us still don’t realize is the level of planning and preparation that should be undertaken before translation actually takes place.
Most professionals here in the USA think that localizing a website is a simple act of translation, a step that can take place right after the English has been completed. They view it as just the last step in a website development process.
Back in January of 2008, I suggested to companies that they think of the following before undertaking the localization of their websites:
1. Structure the website content for maximum international impact. Let’s face it; you need your in-country staff to contribute to your localized website with their own content. This content will typically target the local audience with information that is specifically relevant to them.
So identify upfront what content to translate, what content to re-author and what content to leave un-translated. Making these kinds of decisions allows you to correctly structure your website to facilitate the translation process.
2. Structure your website’s meta-tags for international search-engine optimization. Search-engine-optimizing your website in one language is very costly, let alone having to do it into multiple languages. Why spend money more than once? There are techniques to follow that allow your SEO efforts to be propagated to other languages seamlessly.
3. Identify terminology and share it with your whole company. By sharing terminology, all your divisions and stake-holders have the opportunity to adopt it and be consistent with it. It will make your website content consistent and easier for translations to remain consistent and accurate. It will improve your corporate brand and image, not just locally, but internationally as well.
4. Keep your website’s DNA intact. Your terminology, keywords and key-phrases are the DNA of your website both in its source language and all the languages you translate to. It is only when your DNA is translated accurately and intact that geo-optimization becomes feasible.
5. Geo-Optimize your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. Today companies spend 10 times more on PPC campaigns than just a few years ago. This is due to the escalating prices of English word bidding. You pay a lot less for non-English keywords that target non-English speakers and are a lot more effective than English keywords at generating international leads in non-English speaking countries.
6. Are you using a CMS solution to serve the content of your website? If so, does it support all the required fonts, characters and language encoding standards for the languages you wish to translate to? It pays to look into this and to find out how easy it is to interface or integrate it with a translation management system before you adopt such a solution.
Don’t wait till your source site is completed to contemplate translation. Get your localization vendor involved to help you address these requirements at the beginning of the process before they become an albatross around your neck. The earlier you start the better! They can save you a tremendous amount of time, headache and rework.