How to set up a localization workflow

Did you know that locally targeted content gets six times more engagement than posts designed for the global market? Localization is hence something you don’t want to skip over if you’re planning to do business in new regions or countries. This process of adapting a business’s brand and offerings for the local context is a proven method of reaching more customers and growing revenue.

Provided that it is done right, that is.

That’s because localization can be quite a large undertaking, even for a more limited effort like website localization. It can be overwhelming to identify which steps in the localization process are worth prioritizing and which you can forgo. Another challenge is automating parts of this process to free your team up for higher-value work without sacrificing quality.

Here, we’ll share a step-by-step localization workflow you can reference for your business’s website localization efforts. We’ll also cover some key features that your website localization tools should contain to facilitate effective localization.

What is localization and what should a good localization workflow involve?

As mentioned above, localization is the process of adapting an existing product or service to cater to the preferences of a specific market. In the context of a website, localization can involve:

  • Translating website text from one language to another.
  • Updating website copy to include local references, dialects, and slang.
  • Replacing website images with those more easily recognized by the target market.

The target market for which businesses undertake localization can be in a completely different geographical region to an existing market, or in the same area. That’s because cultural differences can exist even in different cities and states in the same country! However, the more geographical distance there is between the markets (such as them being in different countries), the greater the extent of localization may be needed.

When you localize your website, you stand to:

  • Improve the user experience: When your website speaks the language and culture of your local audience, your visitors can better navigate it. They may also feel like you “get” them, increasing their user satisfaction.
  • Boost your search engine rankings: Search engines may see that your localized website content is especially relevant to searchers from a certain region, and hence rank such content higher for these searchers.
  • Gain more sales: With higher search engine rankings, you could receive more organic traffic to your website. Then, if these searchers have a good experience on your website, they might stay on it for longer. Possibly even long enough to buy from you!

Setting up a solid localization workflow for your website involves many steps, such as website translation, image adaptation, and testing. It also calls for continuous execution of these steps, because societal cultures and preferences are never static. If you’re embarking on localization for your website, it pays to have a proper workflow, backed by powerful automation tools, that can help you localize your website easily and adaptively.

Let’s take a look at a six-step framework for staying on top of all the tasks involved in a website localization project, so that you give website visitors nothing but the best-localized experience.

How to set up and implement an effective localization workflow

1. Plan a localization strategy

At the heart of any successful endeavor is a well-thought-out strategy – and things are no different for localization.

Since visitors to your localized website will be people from your target market, understanding this audience should play a big part in your localization strategy. It is only when you have gained a complete appreciation of your audience that you will be able to:

  • Translate your website into the right target language(s).
  • Use compelling localized copy and images (including screenshots) to appeal to your audience’s preferences.
  • Know any cultural taboos to avoid as you promote your products and services.

At the same time, research your competition. What are your rivals doing to market to your audience? What are the strengths of their efforts, and what are their weaknesses? As you study the competition, you’ll discover how you can localize your brand in a way that differentiates it from what everyone else is doing. You’ll also get inspiration on things your competitors are doing well (and that you can adapt for your business), and pitfalls to avoid.

Last but not least, think about who will assist with localizing your website. With localization being a pretty extensive effort, you’ll want to build a competent localization team to back you up. Members of this team can include:

  • A localization manager to oversee and maintain quality assurance for the entire project.
  • Project managers to manage specific localization efforts, such as website translation or proofreading.
  • Expert translators who will advise on translating certain crucial portions of text.

2. Choose an end-to-end translation and localization tool

If you’re thinking you need to hire a website translation agency to localize your whole website, you don’t!

While hiring such an agency is an option, it will likely charge you an arm and a leg to localize all content on your website. This is especially true if you have many pages of content, or need your text translated into multiple languages.

The more affordable approach is to use end-to-end translation and localization solutions. These localization services take care of the entire localization process for you and at a fraction of the cost of hiring a website translation agency. They do so by using machine translation technology, which can automatically translate content with a high degree of accuracy. As a result, such services can lower the cost of localization and increase its accessibility for even businesses with smaller budgets.

When shortlisting the best translation platform for your website, look for translation services that:

  • Use machine translation functionality to translate content (as mentioned earlier).
  • Can automatically detect and translate content, so you don’t need to manually start a new translation whenever you add new content to your website.
  • Offer a translation management system (TMS) where you have complete control over the translation process. This includes post-editing, where humans make adjustments to machine-translated content.
  • Help optimize your translated content for search engines, such as the implementation of hreflang tags to help search engines serve the most appropriate language versions of your web pages to searchers.

3. Create a translation glossary and translation memory

Translation glossaries and translation memories are vital features of any good website translation solution. Here’s a rundown of what they are and how they work.

A translation glossary is a database of translation terms and rules. Think of it as a “style guide” where you state your preferences for how certain words and phrases should (or should not) be translated.

For example, you might have a rule to say that your translation tool should always translate the phrase “ABC” to “XYZ” in the Gibberish language. At the same time, you might have another rule where the phrase “JKL” should never be translated. Your website translation solution will abide by these rules when translating your content.

You’ll need to manually input rules into your translation glossary to construct it. But as you use your website translation solution to translate content, it will automatically build up translation memory in real-time.

Translation memory is a database of previously translated texts that the software references when translating content. If the software finds a match between the current and previously translated text, it can reuse the previous translation. The result is a speedier translation process with no reduction in translation quality.

As mentioned, your website translation solution will fill out its translation memory over time as you continue to use it. Meanwhile, you can help it produce appropriate translations by comprehensively setting up its translation glossary.

4. Optimize your localization

While your translation tool does the heavy lifting of translating your website content for you, you can localize your website more efficiently and effectively by:

  • Setting up language localization for popular languages: Which languages does your target audience most commonly use? Localize your website for these languages rather than any language that happens to strike your fancy. You’re expending precious resources on your localization project, so you’ll want to get the most bang for your buck.
  • Creating translation rules: Tap on your website translation solution’s translation glossary (see above) to specify your translation preferences. By doing so, you maintain consistent translation – and hence a consistent user experience – across your website. This is especially valuable if certain phrases and sentences regularly appear in your website copy.
  • Activating automatic content detection: Your translation tool should have already activated content detection by default. But if it hasn’t, take a few minutes to set it up! With your translation tool detecting and translating content instantly, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and time in the long run.
  • Optimizing your SEO keywords: A straightforward translation of your existing SEO keywords may not be enough to produce high-ranking localized content for your target market. For the best results, localize your keywords by refining their translated equivalents to suit the local context.
  • Implementing hreflang tags: These HTML code snippets help indicate to search engines which language versions of your web pages they should display to searchers from different geographical regions. As a result, you maximize the visibility of your localized web pages in the search engine results pages. Check if your website translation solution can automatically implement hreflang tags on your website or if you’ll need to manually code and add them yourself.
  • Adding a language switcher: After being directed to a certain language version of your website, visitors may prefer to browse your website in a different language. Using the language switcher, they will be able to switch your website to a supported language of their choice.

5. Set up a marketing strategy

Website localization is just one aspect of a marketing strategy, so don’t neglect other essential marketing activities as you expand into a new market. A thorough marketing strategy will also involve:

  • Localizing your marketing collateral: Apart from your website, you may also have other marketing collateral such as posters, presentation slides, and radio ads. Make a plan to localize all such content types as well, getting the necessary help as relevant. 
  • Optimizing your content for local online searches: This helps enhance your website’s visibility among searchers looking for local solutions to their questions. In particular, consider creating a local Google Business Profile. When you do so, searchers will be able to find your business on Google Maps – which is especially beneficial if you run a brick-and-mortar store.
  • Setting up tracking for your marketing campaigns and analyzing their results: Do regular reviews of your marketing campaigns’ performance. Are they performing up to your expectations, or are they falling short? From the data, you can decide whether your campaigns need to be tweaked for better alignment with your business goals. You can also use the achievements from current campaigns to inform the execution of future ones.

6. Continue to monitor and improve your localization workflow

One last point! After establishing your localization workflow, it may be tempting to give yourself a pat on the back and let your workflow run on complete autopilot. While you can definitely trust your workflow to do its magic – you didn’t invest in automated translation tools for nothing, after all – localization isn’t something that you can do once and then forget.

With societal norms and cultures changing over time, continuous localization is key. What may have helped you localize your website until now may not continue to work in the future. This is where keeping a pulse on the latest trends, tastes, and preferences will serve you well in keeping your website localized for your target market.

In the process, you may also need to fine-tune your localization workflow. For example, you may have to replace outdated translation glossary rules, or translate your content into more languages. Localization work is a marathon and not a sprint, and the businesses that make consistent, committed efforts to localize their brand for their target markets are those that will thrive in the long run.

Manage your entire localization workflow with Weglot

Now that you have a good overview of how to implement a localization workflow, let’s talk about the tools you’ll need. For a website internationalization project, Weglot is well-placed to enhance your localization workflow and deliver optimal results.

Weglot is an end-to-end website translation and localization solution that helps you set up, automate, and streamline the various translation processes mentioned in our workflow discussion above.

Using a proprietary mix of machine learning translations, Weglot instantly produces high-quality translations for website text in over 110 source languages (including custom languages). These translations are stored in a central Weglot dashboard, and team collaboration features make it easy to conduct post-editing work with team members and expert translators.

Weglot also includes features for enhancing multilingual websites, such as automatic hreflang tag implementation and language switcher setup. With Weglot, businesses have been able to:

These are just a couple of the 60,000+ businesses that trust Weglot for their website translation needs. Experience how Weglot can accelerate your own website localization efforts by signing up for a free trial here.

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