Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SEO tips for website localization (localisation)

According to data from the Internet World Stats, English is the most popular language on the internet, but let’s not forget that there are approximately 6,899 other languages in the world whose users can become your next biggest clients.

By checking out the Common Sense Advisory market survey "Language Services Market: 2012" we can see that 49.38% of the entire translation market takes place wholly in Europe, which can be explained by the large market and vast amount of different official languages. These figures also show the current business market trends, and that speaking your clients' languages and localising your website, products and advertisements into the target culture opens up much higher market potential.

How to kill two birds with one stone

A recent Forbes study shows that only 18% of Americans report speaking a language other than English, while 53% of Europeans (and increasing numbers in other parts of the world) can converse in a second language. This means that product and website localisation in any of the most popular European languages can help you to increase your international business potential by up to 47%. It sounds simple, but you have to remember that only correct website localisation, according to SEO requirements, will give you the expected results. Otherwise, this can become a waste of time and money and lost opportunity. I'll now briefly share some basic information on website localisation and give you a few tips for creating a website that can increase your sales (please remember that this article is not about the technical side of website creation, but about the rules to follow when localising it into another language!)

Website localisation service should include

  • CMS (Content management system) localisation
  • Website URL localisation
  • Website Title localisation
  • Website Description localisation
  • Website Keyword translation
  • File name, according to SEO, and most used keywords translation
  • Website text translation, according to SEO requirements
  • Google AdWords Places and other service localisation

Website localization plan

During our many years of experience in the field of SEO translations, we have faced different problems, mainly caused by an incorrectly prepared localisation plan and inappropriately set goals. Here are a few tips for your website's localisation planning:

1. Local market research

Before you start working on web page localisation, you have to do some basic market research. This will help you to understand the local market needs, culture and traditions, as well as giving you a competitive advantage over your competitors. We recommend outlining your company's unique values on the web site's landing page right away.

2. Glossary creation, style guide, TM and keyword localisation

Consistency is the key factor for high quality website translations. There are three tools that help maintain consistency in web page localisation – glossaries, a style guide, and a translation memory. Glossaries help maintain consistency at the term level, and translation memories do this at the sentence level, but style guides help fill in the gaps by maintaining consistency in style, tone, phrasing, and more.
Once this preparation work is done, you have to choose and localise the keywords you want potential clients to find you with. The more precisely you define your keywords, the better SEO results and targeted sales you will have.

3. Country-specific domains

Think of the most appropriate domain name. It’s not a secret that along with server location, also webpage domain name can play a huge role in your website’s visibility on the search engines. 
Local domains (.ru, .se, .fi, .au, etc) are very effective for the local search engines therefore we suggest you registering your website in the target country if possible (
In case you don’t want to register new domain name, you can also choose one of the following options:
  1. Divide your web page language pages using sub-domains:,
  2. Divide languages into directories (the most popular solution):,

4. CMS (Content management system) localization

If possible, you should translate your website CMS system into the target language. This enables you to pass all the responsibility for website management onto employees in the target country.

5. Code – Unicode and UTF-8 and International character set support

Make sure that your website supports the target language and its special characters!

The Unicode Standard is a character coding system designed to support the worldwide interchange, processing, and display of the written texts of the diverse languages and technical disciplines of the modern world.

UTF-8 (UCS Transformation Format—8-bit) is a variable-width encoding that can represent every character in the Unicode character set. UTF-8 was designed to replace the ASCII system. By choosing one of these encoding systems, you can ensure that the target language will display properly to all website visitors.

6. Website design localization

Remember that some languages may look different on the screen due to varying word lengths and special characters. For example, localised text in Finnish will always be longer than in English, and that can ruin the whole webpage layout. We recommend you plan ahead and reserve more space for webpage navigation buttons, built-in forms and other webpage elements.

7. Language menu

It may sound funny, but there are a lot of well localised websites on the internet that cannot be found on search engines due to incorrectly localised language menus. In actual fact, there are just three correct ways to allocate website language:

1.    Language flag banner
2.    Language name
3.    Language ISO code
From an SEO perspective, there is no perfect solution to choose, as long as you select one of these three solutions. For better visibility, you can even combine two of three solutions on your webpage.

8. Website check with free SEO online tools

After text creation, we recommend you check your web page using the following free of charge SEO online tools:

These free online tools will automatically allow you to check keyword density (must be in a range of 2-4%), SEO friendly Title, Description and Keyword length, keyword and key phrases in headings, body text, ATL tags and other information.
Remember that the best SEO result can only be achieved if your website meets as much criteria as possible

9. Geolocation

You should pay particular attention to your website server location, as has been highlighted in recent announcements by Google and other search engine operators. Websites with a server IP address in a particular country will almost always rank higher than localised websites from other locations.
  1. Include different website languages under one server
  2. Create one main webpage, and localise only the most important information into other languages by registering separate domain names in all countries. This is a more expensive solution, but it can pay off if visibility on search engines is a key factor for your business. 
Possible issuesYou could lose your existing website page ranking for a while, since localised languages will disappear from your current server.

10. Website registration in local search enginges

To improve website recognition in particular countries, you will need to register your website on different local search engines, which will then redirect traffic to your website. In most cases this registration is free of charge.

11. Social media as the sales channel

Social media can be the fastest and easiest way to inform potential clients about your product or service, but you have to speak their language to achieve good results.

12. Building back links to your web page

It's very important to get as many back links to your web page as possible. This will help build traffic to your web page, and search engines will rank it higher accordingly.


SEO tips for website localization (localisation) | RIX Translation
If you're planning on doing it right, website localisation is more than just translating your existing website into another language. Listed above are just a few basic rules we recommend you follow for the best return on your investment: it's also worth remembering that nowadays, a website is the public face of company, which is why you are strongly encouraged to spare no resources on localisation services, which should be viewed as a long-term investment.

 About the author

RixTrans ( – rapidly growing translation agency providing innovative language solutions to companies and organisations that are operating in IT, legal, marketing, medical, technical, telecommunications, finance and other industries. 

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