Website localisation is a very powerful marketing tool that allows companies to connect with a huge number of potential customers living overseas.
The meaning of localisation goes far beyond that of simple translation, as it often requires the complete reworking of a text from a cultural point of view. Since in most cases localisation is carried out on texts intended for the web, the rules of search engine optimisation (SEO) cannot be disregarded. This is what makes localisation a much more complex task than a simple literal translation.
What is localisation?
To localise means to transport a text from one cultural context to another while ensuring that it retains all the connotations that made it effective in the source language.
A typical example of localisation is the interpretation of idioms or puns, which must perform the exact same function in the target text as they do in the source text. The mere translation of an expression is often completely ineffective since it contains historical or cultural elements that people from other cultures are unable to understand.
Language localisation is extremely important for a website, as customers buying online have no direct contact with a company or seller and must be provided with all the relevant information about a product or service.
Technical information must be correctly translated for website localisation to be effective. The website must also include texts that communicate well with the customer, as well as correct references to the calendar and currency of the target culture.
Companies wishing to create multilingual sites often choose to create mini-sites in the relevant language, rather than localise their entire website. Mini-sites are simplified versions of the original site and contain less information and fewer references than the original.
The creation of mini-sites is quite common for companies with an international market and is a decision that is often made for financial reasons. Unfortunately, it is an impractical choice from a marketing point of view, especially as user experience is a decisive factor in a website’s conversion capacity.
In other words, a website will sell more if a foreign user has a satisfying and engaging user experience, i.e., one that is similar in every way to that of a native interacting with the original site.
Localisation and optimization: how are they linked?
The optimisation of website texts used by search engines is a determining factor in the success or failure of a website. Optimising a text for SEO purposes means inserting keywords at certain points in the text (titles, paragraphs, etc.) in a way that does not “disturb” the reader, or in other words, in a way that is not forced.
This type of optimisation may be completely lost if an optimised text is simply translated into another language word for word. To localise websites, it is essential to use a professional translator who is an expert in search engine optimisation and who can make translated texts as fluent, persuasive, and optimised as possible.