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How to do Content Localization the Right Way

Hanson Cheng
September 22, 2022
13 min read

As the world becomes more united and connected by technology, businesses have really upped their effort to globalize their products and services. To do so, they need to have a plan or strategy in place for how they will deal with content localization. After all, only a minority of customers probably speak or read the same language.

There are many different ways to approach this challenge. The most effective method depends on the type of content you are working with, the available resources, and your overall marketing goals.

That said, content localization is the general process of adapting content to a specific market or audience. This usually involves translating the content into different languages but can also include changing the original content’s tone, style, or format to suit the target market better.

Having the right strategy is critical to your success when performing content localization. This article will explore some of the key considerations you need to make when localizing your content, allowing you to do so effectively and efficiently.

What is a Content Localization Strategy?

At its core, content localization is adapting content to a specific locale or market.

However, it’s about more than just translation; it also includes cultural adaptation, such as considering local customs, etiquette, and slang.

When done well, content localization can help you build a connection with your target audience, instill trust, and ultimately boost sales.

Why is Content Localization Important?

There are several reasons why content localization is essential.

For one, it can help you reach new markets and expand your business.

It can also help build trust with your target audience by ensuring that your content is relevant to their needs and culture.

Content localization can also be a crucial part of your SEO strategy.

Search engines like Google consider several factors when determining where to rank your content in search results, including the language used on such content. This means that localization is essential if you want your content to rank well in search engines in different markets, which is what we call international SEO.

Finally, content localization can help improve the overall quality of your content. When you adapt your content for different markets, you’re more likely to catch errors and inconsistencies you may have missed in the first place.

You’ll also be able to get feedback from local users that can help you improve your content.

If you really want to ensure SEO rankings in the localized language, use an SEO content brief generator to ensure that your content still contains the relevant keywords for the topics you are after.

Amongst other things, this type of software will check what’s ranking in the market you’re targeting and automatically generate a list of relevant keywords to use in your content.

While you might have to make some adjustments to the localized content, it will be worth it to get in front of your target audience through search results.

Building a Content Localization Strategy

The following steps will allow you to perform content localization correctly.

Determine your Localization Needs

First off, you need to determine what content needs to be localized, as not all content needs to be localized for every market.

For example, if you have a limited number of products on your website that are only sold in certain countries, there’s no need to localize the rest of your site for those markets.

This means that it would help if you also considered which markets you want to target. There’s also no point in localizing your content for a market in which you don’t plan to do business.

Once you’ve determined which content needs to be localized and for which markets, you can drill down on your target audience.

Define your Target Audience

The next step is to define your target audience. This step is crucial because it will determine how you localize your content.

For example, if you’re targeting a market where most people speak a different language than your own, you’ll need to focus on translations.

But if you’re targeting a market where most people speak the same language as you do, you may only need to make small changes to your content, such as using local slang or adjusting your tone to appeal to the local culture.

Knowing your target audience is essential to localizing your content correctly.

Use the Right Tools

Just like marketers use CRM software, localization experts rely on localization tools to get the job done right.

If you want a core platform where you can manage all of your content in multiple languages as well as your team, a Translation Management System (TMS) is what you are looking for.

And with that TMS, you can also utilize various integrations and features. You have Translation Memory, Machine Translation, glossary, and more.

Identify your Content

Now that you’ve determined your localization needs and methods, it’s time to start identifying the content to be localized. This can be anything from blog posts and product descriptions to marketing materials and user manuals.

Others prefer to start by localizing their website to get the ball rolling. Once you have your list, you can start categorizing your content based on priority, as some content will be more critical to localize than others.

For example, if you’re selling products in a new market, your product descriptions must be localized so that potential customers know what they’re buying.

On the other hand, blog posts can usually be localized at a later date since they don’t have the same impact on sales. However, this might be different based on the business model in place.

Categorizing your content will help you prioritize your localization efforts and ensure that the most critical content is localized first.

It’s also important to note that if search engine traffic is key to your business, you need to maintain a specific type of content to get good rankings. Knowing which content is more important to localize from an SEO point of view will save you time and money in the long run.

Prepare your Content for Localization

Once you’ve identified your content, it’s time to start preparing it for localization.

You ideally want to create a glossary of terms you will use in your localized content. This glossary should include any industry-specific terms, product names, or company jargon that may be unfamiliar to your target audience.

Creating a glossary upfront will ensure that your translated content is accurate and consistent. It will also save you time and money in the long run, as you won’t have to pay for repetitive translations of the same term. Translation memory tools can be helpful in this situation (more on this in the next section).

Manage the Localization Process

Now that your content is prepared and you’ve selected your localization method, it’s time to start managing the localization process. This includes working with translators, editors, and other stakeholders to ensure that your content is localized correctly.

As mentioned above, one of the best ways to do that is by utilizing the proper tools, such as a Translation Management System and the features it brings with it.

Translation memory tools store your translated content in a database, which can be used to translate similar content in the future automatically. The main benefit of using translation memory is that it can save time and money by reusing existing translations (rather than starting from scratch each time).

Launch and Monitor your Localized Content

After your content has been localized, it’s time to launch it in your target market.

This includes ensuring that your localized content is correctly displaying live on your website or app and taking the necessary steps to promote it through your marketing channels.

It’s also important to closely monitor your localized content after its launch. This will help you identify any issues or errors that need to be fixed. Monitoring your content will also give you insights into its performance in your target market.

If you see a decrease in engagement or sales after launching your localized content, you may need to make some adjustments.

Top Content Strategy Tips for Localization

Now that we’ve looked at the content localization process let’s review some of the best practices for achieving success.

Make sure all your Text is Translated Correctly and Accurately.

While localization methods have greatly improved in recent years, some potential errors can still occur during the translation process. That’s why it’s essential to proofread your translated content carefully before publishing it.

If possible, have a native speaker of the target language check your translations for accuracy. They can spot any errors that might have been introduced during the localization process.

Consult With Someone Familiar With Daily Life in your Target Market

Not only should you use a native speaker’s knowledge when proofing, but you should also consult with someone familiar with the day-to-day life of your target market. They can help you understand the cultural nuances you need to be aware of when creating content for that market.

When creating content for a new market, it’s essential to make sure that it is relevant and relatable to your target audience. After all, what works in one culture may not work in another.

Ensuring your content is culturally appropriate is also an integral part of localization. If you don’t take the time to get it right, you risk offending your target audience and damaging your brand. You might even use data collection tools and gather feedback from your target market to test how they react to your content before launching it.

Keep Track of your Content Localization Progress and Performance Over Time.

As with any marketing initiative, keeping track of your content localization progress and performance over time is essential. Doing so will help you identify what’s working well and what could be improved.

There are several ways to track the performance of your localized content. One option is to use Google Analytics to track traffic from different markets. Depending on the type of content, another option is to use a tool like Hootsuite Insights to track social media engagement.

Be Prepared to Update and Adjust your Localized Content as Needed.

Finally, understand that the process might need to be repeated for different markets as time goes on. For example, you may need to update your localized content if there are changes in the target market (such as a change in demographics) or if the market evolves.

Additionally, you may need to adjust your localized content if you start to see a decline in engagement or performance.

While the changes would be minor, they would still be vital to maintaining a high level of quality in your localized content.

Consider Video Localization

While the focus of this article has been on text-based content, it’s also important to consider video localization as a more advanced step in the localization process.

Video is an increasingly popular format, especially among younger audiences. And as with text content, there are certain challenges that need to be considered when localizing video content.

The first step is to ensure that your video is properly captioned. This is important not only for making your video accessible to a wider audience but also for understanding what’s being said in the video.

Next, you need to consider the dubbing process. When dubbing a video, it’s important to find voice actors that can accurately convey the emotions and tone of the original dialogue. Additionally, the lip-sync needs to be as close to perfect as possible.

Finally, you need to consider the visuals in your video. Any text or graphic elements in your video will need to be localized for the target market. This includes things like on-screen text, menus, and even website addresses.

That said, the easiest way to get started with video localization would be to use a screen recorder and record a voice-over of the video. This would eliminate the need for expensive dubbing and make the localization process much simpler.

Don’ts in Content Localization

In this last section, let’s consider some common localization mistakes others have made in the past, allowing you to learn from their mistakes and avoid making them yourself.

Relying Entirely on Machine Translation

One big localization mistake that can easily lead to content localization problems is relying too heavily on machine translation. We’ve all used Google Translate at some point, and while it’s gotten a lot better over the years, it’s still not perfect.

Machine translation is excellent for getting the gist of something written in another language. But if you’re using it to translate important content like your website or marketing materials, you’ll likely run into some problems.

Some common issues with machine translation include:

  • Inaccurate translations that don’t convey the meaning of the original text
  • Poor grammar and awkward phrasing
  • Cultural references that are lost in translation
  • Different word order that can change the meaning of a sentence

As such, it’s essential to only use machine translation as a starting point for your content localization. Once you have a draft of your translated content, you should have it reviewed by a native speaker or professional translator to ensure that it’s accurate and reads well.

Failing to Localize Images

Another common mistake made during content localization is failing to localize images. Just like text, images can convey meaning and messages to your audience. So, if you’re not careful, they can also cause problems during localization.

For example, the Japanese typically prefer bowing over shaking hands when greeting someone, especially in a former occasion. And while global professionals may be used to greeting others with a hand shake, your average Japanese citizen may not find the concept appealing, which is probably why you wouldn’t want to use an ad with a handshake there.

Ignoring Cultural Differences

Another big mistake that can lead to content localization problems is ignoring cultural differences. Even if you have a good understanding of the language you’re translating into, there may still be cultural nuances you’re unaware of. And if you’re not careful, these nuances can cause severe problems with your localized content.

For example, let’s say you’re translating your website into Spanish. In Spanish, there are two different words for “you” – “tú” and “usted.” “Tú” is used when talking to someone of the same age, rank, or educational level. “Usted,” on the other hand, is used when talking to someone older than you, of a higher rank, or has more education than you.

If you’re unaware of this difference, you could mistakenly use “tú” when you should be using “usted.” This can offend and make your business look unprofessional. 

Conclusion

Content localization is a critical part of expanding your business into new markets. 

Knowing the steps to follow and the common mistakes to avoid will help ensure that your content localization efforts are successful.

This is a contribution from Hanson Cheng from Freedom to Ascend.

 

 

Hanson Cheng
Hanson Cheng is the founder of Freedom to Ascend. He empowers online entrepreneurs and business owners to 10x their business and become financially independent. 
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