At first glance, website globalization and localization seem to be practically the same thing.
After all, both globalization and localization involve translating your website into a foreign language and increasing its accessibility to different national markets.
Despite this similarity, however, the two are actually distinct processes with unique objectives and tasks.
When companies go international, the first thing they should do is make their company website visible and accessible to foreign markets. After all, not everyone can speak English (or whatever the language of the organization’s home country may be). But providing multiple translations of web content is just the start.
Website globalization involves improving the back-end of a company website — the components that make the website appear on search engines (aka SEO, or search engine optimization). These components are often overlooked during translation and, as a result, the newly-updated website doesn’t place as well on foreign language searches as it should.
Things like meta-descriptions, file names, image labels and even website URLs need to be accounted for during the globalization process. It’s a lot to consider, and organizations doing it for the first time may not be able to get everything.
Thankfully, professional language service providers are experienced at these types of conversions and already have set workflows on how to properly optimize websites for global searches and audiences.
So now that you know what website globalization is, what about its counterpart? Where globalization emphasizes the back-end of a website, localization attempts to connect with the reader through translated content.
Localizing a website often involves more than converting website text. Companies will often post documents, videos, charts and other assorted media to supplement the information already found on the main website. This project then becomes extremely complicated as translations have to be checked across all different media, and in the case of video/audio, will need voice over or subtitling services in addition to translation.
When translating into a foreign language, companies need to keep in mind various cultural, contextual and industry-specific terminologies. Literal translations often contain errors that confuse your readers and damage your company’s professional image.
Simply assigning a multilingual employee to perform these conversions may sound acceptable at first, but there is no guarantee that the employee will be able to turn out quality work — especially if there are extensive amounts of content. Also, this employee likely has his own workload, which is now being shelved for the sake of this new translation project.
The best route would be to find a respectable language service provider. They usually have access to linguistic professionals proficient in a variety of languages, both interpreters and translators, and are experienced in working with different mediums. Also, these services will most likely have done website globalization and localization before, and can offer you advice on how best to proceed.