We have been going over localization in the past couple of months, looking at your potential situation and problems from different angles. We decided that we are at a point in time in which we need to sum up all the best practices under one roof and write about 9 things that you have to keep in mind when localizing your content.
#1. Create content with localization in mind
This one is especially applicable to your business if you have just started creating content that will be localized in the future. Why is this important? Well, you need to understand that your language most probably differs a lot from the languages into which you will eventually translate.
Taking English as an example, it is usually much shorter than German and French, and its plural differs from Slavic languages where the plural form depends on the number of subjects and objects.
It’s always a good idea to think about all of these things in advance! If you want more advice on this topic, read our blog about creating content with localization in mind or simply reach out to us – we will gladly discuss your specific scenario!
#2. Check for potential problems
Chances are that you are reading this article because you already have content that needs translating. In this case, you can apply the advice from the first point to the content you create from this day forward.
But what do you do with the content you already have on your hands? We’d call it damage control, and it’s about checking out which part of your content will cause the biggest headache. For this, you can machine-translate your website or files to see if anything will break, in the sense of whether it will create a mess in your localized content.
For example, if the translated text cannot be shown in a button on your website, you know that you have to deal with this before going live with any form of localized website. If you want to machine translate your website and get a quick look at the localized version, you can always sign up and run the website translation yourself.
#3. Don’t translate word-for-word
If you have been reading our articles, it should be clear by now that translating your content word-for-word is never a good decision. The main reason for this is the fact that most of the expressions and phrases used in your native language cannot be translated into other languages as they are.
The translator working on the localization of your content has to find the correct and appropriate expression in the target language. This ties in well with the next item on this list.
#4. Keep cultural differences in mind
Learn from other people’s mistakes. Even if you translate your content appropriately, there are still some mistakes that can easily be made. Using the wrong colors or pictures that don’t fit the culture of your target market can seriously hurt your brand and destroy all the efforts you put into translating your content.
You need to work closely with the people translating your content, and they should provide you with feedback on potential cultural issues. If you need help finding the right person, you can contact us and we will find the right person for the localization of your content, who will work with you on finding the things which will cause issues in the target market.
#5. Choose your target languages wisely
The main trick to stepping up your localization game is finding the right languages to localize your business into. The main guideline should always be the data you have at hand. Where are your website visitors coming from?
If you are receiving a lot of traffic from South America, you should localize your content into Spanish and Portuguese before tackling French. If you don’t have any data you can use, you can start with the top ten languages for localization as well as languages you have to localize your business into (in the near future) and work your way down the list.
#6. Don’t translate everything
Since you surely don’t want to spend too much on localization, at least until you know if the target market you are aiming for is right for you, you should always think about what you actually want to translate. This approach can save you a lot of time and financial outlay.
In the beginning, you can just translate your most important landing pages, and track if there are any new conversions. You might even choose different quality levels for different types of content, such as machine-translating content of low importance, and ordering human translation for sensitive or important content.
If you are translating your website, don’t forget to translate everything. Wait, what? But you just said… Yes, we know it sounds contradictory, but this does not go against what we pointed out in the previous point. The content we are talking about here is not the content you have in mind.
Here, we are talking about SEO and all the data which needs to be translated to enable proper indexing in search engines. Do not skip this part, if you want to rank high.
As mentioned above, you can choose different quality levels for different types of content. There are many options for localizing your content but there’s one that we call the new black of the translation industry, which will also happen to save you quite a lot of money. This approach involves machine translation of content and its review by a human native speaker.
This means that the first draft of the translation will be done by a machine translation engine. After that, the translator reviews the content, fixing any potential errors along the way. Simple, yet genius.
#9. Create a style guide and make sure everything is covered
Style guides are not things that someone else can create for you. They are business documents that reflect your company’s message and culture.
Creating a style guide does not have to be difficult, and you don’t have to match style guides created by multinational corporations. Even the basic information will help translators working on the localization of your content to put across what you want to say to the target audience.
The info from this article may seem common knowledge, but you will find yourself facing these problems quickly. Choose the right people who can help you achieve what you are looking for, and take it one step at a time. If you do need any help or advice on how to make the first step, our experienced team is there for you, ready to make life as easy as possible!