To Localise or Not to Localise, That Shouldn’t Be the Question

A client we’ve been working with for some time recently came to us to help solve a problem. A set of high traffic pages in their site had two main issues – high bounce rates and low conversion rates. These were important pages for them, and as with any major e-commerce site, the two pain points just mentioned are costing them significant business on a daily basis.

Armed with the issues at hand and in reviewing their site data, our team started to dig deeper to try and uncover any clues that might point us in the right direction. We looked at technical areas that might be holding them back, analysed messaging and tone of content, reviewed keyword strategy, and looked into related competitors for any inspiration we could leverage back into our client’s site. Through a series of cursory audits, we eventually concluded that these pages were not properly localised for the Japanese market and we needed to conduct a serious localisation project to get them back in line with the realities of the geography and ecosystem in which they are marketing to.

Ensuring that your site and really any of your digital media is properly localised should be a critical area of focus for any brand, especially within Asia, as the simplest nuances here can significantly contribute to how your brand is perceived.

That’s why for this piece, I’ve decided to create a top 10 list of some of the more important areas to look at when localising a site, individual page, or any digital content you create.

The Top 10 Localisation Tips for Your Brand

1. Look and feel: Review the design sensibilities of your market and look for ways to address some of these elements in the design of your pages. Even a little effort will go a long way.

2. Accessibility: Each market has its own set of local search engines and crawlers that can read your site differently from the majors. Study this and adapt your site to ensure total accessibility.

3. Social bookmarking: Too many sites just use the main global bookmarking tools. Review the top social bookmarking tools in your market and make sure you add them into your menu.

4. Dual language: For some content like product names, categories, and important headlines, try and use both local language and English in parentheses. This can help you pull in more traffic.

5. Template decisions: Decide if you’ll be leveraging your global template or if there’s flexibility to build your own local template. In many cases, the latter proves to be more effective.

6. Content frequency: Based on the template decision above, type and frequency of content can then be determined. From an SEO perspective, more content updates are better.

7. Domains: Investigate your domain options. There is solid evidence that suggests the search engines prefer local domains (.jp, .cn, etc.) over global .com domains.

8. Translation systems: Avoid translation systems. Instead, source local market translation professionals to translate your content. They’ll pick up local nuances that systems cannot.

9. Local content: Ensure you add original local content within your site, not just global template translations. Spend the time to create this content and work to optimise for SEO.

10. Emphasise important content: For a client in Japan, we learned that the About Us page was one of the top accessed pages. From this insight, we focused on building this page out more.

Dovetailing back to the beginning of the story, we finally finished our localisation project, the client quickly implemented our recommendations, and in about three weeks we had reduced bounce rates by 20 percent and increased conversion rates by around 33 percent just by following many of the tips presented above.

Overall, brands need to pay more attention to localisation and ensure they have all the elements in place to deliver and speak effectively to the users they are marketing to. Even any little changes and steps you can make towards creating a more localised experience for your users will most likely see very quick and strong results.

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