Website Internationalization, Mistranslated SignsTaking your company international is often a business milestone. To do it right, it takes research and planning. It often is a long-term growth accelerator. But skip the planning; you could be either wasting resources or worse – damaging your company’s brands and bottom line.

As part of international, it’s time to plan out your website internationalization. Some companies assume that adding a list of international distributors makes their site international enough to reach a global audience. To put this into perspective, Smartling (a website localization automation company) surveyed B2B companies around the world. Their study found that 9 out of 10 B2B professionals look for resources to solve their business challenges online only in their own native language. That means that those companies without a translated and localized site could be missing out on 90% of their international markets.

Here’s some advice to help your company to get started in internationalizing your website:

Balance Website Costs with Long-term Opportunities

When done right any website internationalization can be costly, so have a strategy that is sustainable and scalable in terms of staff time and expenses. And while the average global company increased their online supported languages from 12 in 2005 to 29 in 2014, that doesn’t mean that these companies launched with all languages at one time. Consider adding one language at a time based on the overall priority of the group of countries where each language is spoken. So for instance, Colombia may be a smaller potential market than Brazil. But add in the opportunities in all Spanish-speaking markets and Spanish may rise towards the top of the priority list!

Don’t Use Translator Widgets

I have met with more companies than I’d like to admit who have added a translator widget to their site and assume that their website is now international. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, on several occasions I see it often causing harm. Companies using these widgets look like amateurs, with damage done to their brand in the other language thanks to poor translations and no localization.

Choose International Content Wisely

Since it is costly to translate and localize website pages, you can choose to focus on key pages instead of the whole site. For instance, the product pages might be important to all. Therefore it’s worth the investment to have those pages translated/localized. But there may be other pages, which are less crucial. These might not be included in, say the German or Chinese versions. Also consider content marketing. Will you translate each new blog post into multiple languages? You could do this, but it would get very expensive very quickly. Instead, choose the most important blog posts to translate instead of all of them. As part of the editorial calendar, consider which topics would apply better to your best international markets.

Lastly, Learn the SEO Rules for Internationalization

Google has specific ways that they want site owners to structure their multi-lingual sites. If you set up the structure in one of a few ways, you’ll boost SEO in your international markets. This structure allows for choosing both language AND country for every specific market targeting. For instance, pt-BR means Portuguese in the Brazilian market. But pt-PT would be the Portuguese spoken in Portugal. In the end, it allows the customer to choose the language and country of their choice!

I hope you found this article interesting. I encourage you to read more from The International Entrepreneur Blog.