POP SEO Tip #29: Localize, Don’t Translate – Tips for Global Marketing

For companies hoping to take advantage of the “world wide” aspect of the World Wide Web, translation is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Sure, English might be the international language of business, but what if you’re marketing housewares or bed linens? What if you’re marketing cookware or automotive accessories for consumers? In that instance, you’d want to translate your content into the other language.

There’s a problem here, though. Translation apps like Google Translate don't always do such a great job. In fact, you can see for yourself just how awful it is if you read this post in Google Chrome and then click the blue page icon in the upper right:

[caption id="attachment_2196" align="alignleft" width="191"]Google-Translate Google Translate Icon[/caption]

When you translate this post into another language besides English, the results look very strange to a native speaker.  That’s because software-based translation methods like Google Translate are only good at rough translations and often don't take into account variations like slang or idioms. This can be easily seen in American vernacular. The phrase, “That’s cool” has nothing to do with temperature. It means something is acceptable or approved. Now, consider that from the perspective of a non-native English speaker with a literal translation in hand. You will find the result somewhat embarrassing.

So, what’s the solution if Google Translate isn’t the right option? Localization is what you need. This is a process that ensures your content is not just functionally translated into another language, but put into words that your readers are going to understand.

Of course, this goes much deeper than just localizing the way your content reads. It should apply to all aspects of your marketing, from technical and structural to cultural elements. For instance, if you have an app that pulls a lot of data, but are marketing it in an area where cell phone data is expensive, it’s going to fall on its face. Likewise, if you’re marketing something with an English name that’s similar to an offensive word in another language, you’re not going to see much success.

Localize all aspects of your marketing campaign and you’ll be positioned to really benefit from the connectivity offered by the World Wide Web.

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