If you want some guidance on how to implement a globalization solution based on sound strategy and planning, this post is for you.
Most businesses still have a long way to go before truly reaching their online global audience. Informational businesses, like search engines and wikis, are leading the pack of globalized websites by offering dozens of translations. But effective web globalization for most companies is about a whole lot more than offering translation. If all you’re doing is translation, you’re missing out on a large piece of opportunity with your global audience.
To get started, weigh your web globalization plans in light of these nine strategic web globalization considerations.
- Internationalization & localization
Internationalization (i18n) entails the processes that enable a website to adapt to local requirements. Examples can be found in our post on global terminology. Have you thought through all of those aspects? If not, you really shouldn’t start down the translation path. It will just be cumbersome for you and your users.
Localization (L10n) refers to the actual adaptation of a website to become useful and relevant to each locale. Examples can be found in our post on global terminology. This is the real hands-on stuff that takes a site beyond just simple translation and makes the information relevant to your broadest user base. You should really be weighing how far you want or need to localize at the same time or ideally before you begin translations.
- Global strategy
Have you spent time analyzing the key business drivers, stakeholders, goals and strategic needs of specific regions and markets throughout the world? That’s a critical step to being able to address the perceived impact of an online global strategy on the current web site communications and processes. It’s best if you can articulate these aspects clearly and have internal consensus around them. You’ll save a lot of time later on rolling out a solution that aligns to a strategy everyone has already bought into.
- Business requirements
Have you crafted unique business rules and restrictions around product and service availability and key online offerings (e.g. ecommerce) by region? Do you have a good understanding of your global audiences (e.g. partners, end-customers, investors, etc.) within existing or future sales and distribution channels to determine which regions, markets and languages will address the broadest site visitor base possible to reach company goals and targets?
- Languages & translation
Do you currently have the ability to offer your website content in various languages related to regional locales? Have you begun planning for the resulting business processes that are required to support those translations, such as in-country staff to own and/or approve the content translation, technology connectors, identifying target languages by region, and building a translation memory? Affected site content includes images, text, documents, search results, customer service, phone numbers, currency, etc.
- Cultural customizations
Have you begun planning processes that can help to balance consistent regional site presentation with the promotion of culturally relevant and sensitive content for each region related to cultural norms, customs, holidays, icons, models in photography, etc. Do you even plan to tailor content by region or locale? If so, can you tap into regional-focused staff who can inform on such market behaviors and attitudes?
- Domain strategy
Have you put in place a domain name architecture and naming convention for your regional and translated sites? Will you use geolocation (identifying the real-world geographic location of an Internet connected computer, mobile device, or web site visitor) to help direct users to a regional site or allow them to choose via a global gateway (or both)? Do you desire geotargeting (displaying targeted content to a specific geographical location)? Do you own the country-specific (or country-code) top level domains (ccTLD), such as .de for Germany, where your company desires to reach regional users? Will you use separate domains powered by ccTLDs, subdomains of your main .com site or directories off your main .com site to contain the various regional sites? Or a combination thereof? And if you watch your website analytics, you’ll want to weigh the impact your domain name strategy will have on your tracking data to ensure you can distinguish the regional traffic.
- Site platform
How well does your current platform facilitate the transition between regional sites (global gateway) while presenting each site with somewhat consistent branding, structure and navigational pathways to information (global navigation)? What are the processes that facilitate regional content creation, workflow automation required for translation handling as well as content approval and content deployment?
- Hosting & bandwidth
Have you determined your desired hosting configuration (several in-country hosts, one centralized host or a combination of the two) for your development (where the CMS typically resides) and production servers? Are you clear on the hosting specs you need to power your globalized site while ensuring that pages do not exceed bandwidth best practices for the vast majority of global users still using dial-up access?
- Search engine
Have you planned for ISEO (international search engine optimization) tactics? Globalization can make a big impact on global search engine rankings – and not always for the best. Optimizing localized sites for greater visibility in language-specific, regional search engines (for example, in China Google.cn, Yahoo.cn and Chinese search leader Baidu compete for search traffic) as well as promoting language-specific keyword advertising in language-specific search engines can help to guide visitors directly to the localized site. But duplicative content in the same language used throughout several regional sites (e.g. the same Spanish keywords used in various regional sites like the United States, Spain and Mexico) has been thought to negatively impact rankings. It’s also been said that search engines are more likely to index websites that are registered under the local ccTLD and when hosted in-country. And it’s best when a search engine crawler finds all language-specific content in one directory. It’s also not hard to believe that users tend to prefer paid advertising results that are localized. As with anything in the world of search engine, there’s a bit of art and the unknown involved. But with some up front planning and awareness, you can influence your global search engine rankings.
Have you planned for ISEO (international search engine optimization) tactics? Globalization can make a big impact on global search engine rankings – and not always for the best. You need to consider the impact of things like regional search engines (e.g. Baidu in China), language-specific keyword advertising and optimization, duplicative translated content found in multiple regional sites, registering ccTLDs, hosting in country and the overall site directory structure. As with anything in the world of search engine, there’s a bit of theory, art and some trial and error involved. But with some up front planning and awareness, you can positively influence your global search engine rankings.
Video - Part 1
Video - Part 2