The following is a guest post by Christian Arno, founder of Lingo24.
Marketing and SEO for global websites
The web provides great opportunities to expand your business into global markets. But if you want your website to be successful overseas, you need to make sure it is properly localized for the regions you are targeting. There are several issues to consider, including translation, country-specific domains and hosting, geolocation and SEO (link building).
Overcoming the language barrier
In order to break into foreign markets, you need to overcome the inevitable language barriers. 78% of web users do not speak English as their native language. Also, research by Common Sense Advisory suggests people not proficient in English are six times less likely to purchase from an English-only website. These are two very good reasons for having your website content translated.
The best way to go about it is to employ a professional translator. This will ensure any irregularities in your text, like slang and abbreviations, will be properly translated. The translator will make sure your translated content is as accurate as possible. If you’re on a tight budget, you could try using a machine translation service, like Google Translate. The main benefit of these types of service is that they are free, but they will never be as accurate as a human translator.
Despite the fact that automatic translation services are improving all the time, you cannot rely on them for your keyword translation. You can’t even be sure of a dictionary when it comes to keyword translation, because the most popular search term in any market could be a synonym, a local colloquialism, an adoption from English – anything at all. The only way to be sure is to work with a professional translator to develop your list of keywords in other languages, and then research these keywords using a tool like Google Keywords.
Once you have created the various translated versions of your website, you will want to ensure that your visitors can find their local version as easily as possible. One way to achieve this is to automatically channel your visitors to the page which is localized for their language. You can use Geolocation to identify a user’s location based on their IP address (stored by IP address databases like IP2Location and Digital Envoy) and then channel visitors from certain locations straight to their page.
Geolocation works well for most visitors, but if any are accessing the net via a proxy server which is not located in their own country, they may be forwarded to the wrong content. So you also need to provide a manual method for users to access their language of choice. This simply involves adding links pointing to the various language versions of your pages. Try to avoid using country flag icons for the links because many languages are spoken in more than one country. It’s best just to have text links, which could be in a drop-down menu in the website header.
Your website will perform much better in local search engine rankings if you register a domain name for each country you are targeting. For example, if you use www.yourcompany.se for the Swedish version of your website, you stand a better chance of ranking well in the Swedish version of Google (www.google.se). You should host these country-specific domains on servers within the relevant country.
Alternatively, set the geographic location of each of your subdomains using Google’s Geotargeting tool – for instance, set the location of your French-language subdomain to France, etc. That way when Google looks for relevant local results for your keywords it will pull up your pages targeted at that region.
It’s important to build links from sites within your target country. For example, if you have a .se domain, your rankings in local search engines will be improved by getting backlinks from other .se domains. Building backlinks in foreign markets involves exactly the same methods you would use on your English websites, but you may need the help of a translator if you plan to use article marketing or guest posting to build links. You might find some local web directories are worth submitting your foreign language site to, but before you do submit, do some research and make sure the directory is well-established and has a decent amount traffic.
As you can see, successfully localizing your website for overseas markets involves a number of considerations. As well as the technical side of things, like local domains and hosting, you also need to ensure your content is properly translated and makes sense – however, compared to the cost of establishing a business ‘on the ground’ in a foreign market, moving into foreign markets online is far cheaper and has the potential for massive increases in profits for very little financial risk.
About the author
Christian Arno is the founder and Managing Director of global Lingo24, one of the fastest growing translation agencies in the world. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 130 employees spanning four continents and clients in over sixty countries.
Contact Lingo24 with a translation request mentioning http://bub.blicio.us/ before 30 November 2010 and receive a 10% discount on your first order.