5 Website Considerations when ‘Going Global’
What is your message?
August 28, 2015
Posted by: Simon Hodgkins, Chief Marketing Officer
Okay, so your website has a lot of text but does the text address the core messages and calls to action that you are trying to get across? Who is the intended audience? What are you trying to achieve with your site and pages? How does the text help you achieve this?
Let us assume you have the text and messaging correct for your primary language, say English. Question now is how do your core message and requirements translate into Japanese, Chinese, German, Spanish or any other languages? Has this been considered and reviewed?
Getting the message and calls to action right is crucial. Being able to reach the heart of your audience in different geographies using the right language, tone and voice requires careful planning and expertise. Do you need to translate or transcreate? Do you want to empathize, influence or motivate? Do you need it to create action? You want your brand essence to translate to the new audience but not to be misunderstood, or worse still, offend.
Images need to be appropriate
A picture paints a thousand words, you need to make sure they are the right words! Your attention to the visual aspects of your website is also very important. What is acceptable in some countries may not be in others. What is deemed appropriate in one target market may not translate to another at all. Cultural sensitivities and nuances need to be considered carefully. Images containing text also need consideration as the onscreen text may need to translated and overlaid for new target audiences.
Understanding what is culturally acceptable and necessary across different countries is key to achieving the required outcomes at local level, while keeping consistent with the global image and brand messaging.
Why do symbols need attention?
If you travel across the world you soon realize that even in countries that speak the same language symbols differ greatly.
Think about how you display a date in your country and then look at how it is written in the new market you are trying to address. This is a very simple illustration, however everything from the use of visual symbols, colors, iconography, date and time formats all need to be given thought. An expert local eye will really help to get this right. Using an in-country expert is important here.
What languages are you considering?
Thinking about what languages you require for your global expansion requires more than the obvious. What are the leading languages spoken in the country you are targeting outside of the main or official language(s). In the United States, for example, the number of people speaking a language other than US English as doubled since the 1980’s.
According to the Census Bureau Report carried out in 2011 the top 10 US languages other than English are:
1. Spanish (37.6m Speakers)
2. Chinese (2.8m Speakers)
3. Tagalog (1.5m Speakers)
4. Vietnamese (1.4m Speakers)
5. French ( 1.3m Speakers)
6. German (1.8m Speakers)
7. Korean (1.1m Speakers)
8. Arabic (952k Speakers)
9. Russian (906k Speakers)
10. Italian (724k Speakers).
Have you considered the countries your company and brand needs to communicate with and in what language to communicate in?
Digital considerations & multilingual SEO (MSEO)
Do you understand which social platforms are common in the geography you are expanding into? You may find a whole new world exists outside of Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter in your new target markets. Localizing social media is a very important piece of your overall strategy.
At a basic level in what language are people accessing these platforms and also what sentiment are you striving to deliver? You may be a little familiar with dark link posts on Facebook but what about Qzone, Tencent Weibo, Sina Weibo, 51.com, Pengyou, Kaixin 001, Jiayuan, Douban, Taomee, Baihe, Bai She Hui?
China has around 630 million internet users who typically spend 25 hours per week connected to the internet.
When it comes to SEO people may know a little about search engine optimization and the focus for going global needs to include MSEO (Multilingual SEO). Are your web pages search friendly in all your languages?
The search term you are familiar with is probably not the search term or wording used by others speaking different languages in different countries. If you intend to expand your business, products and services into different locales expert advice in MSEO and language keyword research and targeting is a very important element to consider.