What is website localization? It is an advanced translation strategy that keeps your content current across foreign markets. Many approach it as a short-term strategy where they attempt to outsource as much as possible. While that’s not entirely inaccurate, using the incorrect tools could result in long-term consequences.
This strategy requires a comprehensive view of all your content, site architecture, and resources to make it work effectively. Minimal effort will garner minimal results, so it’s essential to avoid selecting options that appear deceptively easy and do your research first.
What Is Website Localization and How Do Proxy Services Apply?
Website localization encompasses every step necessary to make your site accessible in a new market. It’s a fairly advanced part of localization because websites need constant updates and changes that will require translation to other languages. If you’re manually updating content–having engineers cut and paste strings of translated text–upkeep will be a significant problem. But you can’t risk letting these foreign sites lag either; visitors form an impression of your page in less than one second.
For a long time, proxy services were considered the best option for keeping a site up to date; it involves a layer that translates content in real-time being placed over your page. The website becomes a mirror of your original page to ensure foreign users can also navigate your page in their language. Since this process is so simple and seamless, many companies choose it as their comprehensive localization strategy. However, there are potential consequences to consider when relying on proxy services, specifically concerning site flexibility, portability, and architecture.
As the translation occurs as a layer over your original content, you can’t change it for specific languages. For example, say your e-commerce site offers a product to consumers in America, but it’s not available for those in China. There’s no way to omit that item on the Chinese site when using proxy services.
Proxy services don’t provide physical files. As a result, if you decide to leave the company providing them, you can’t take them with you. Over time, you can become stuck in a contract that’s expensive and difficult to escape. In many cases, the only option is to recreate the entire strategy.
Proxy services don’t create separate website pages; they use temporary URLs. This creates site architectural issues that are difficult to resolve. It’s also not search engine optimization (SEO) friendly, as Google gives a low priority to temporary URLs. That means that all the work that went into an initial SEO strategy won’t translate.
Proxy services may seem appealing, but they have some significant flaws that could impact your long-term results. Using them is a mistake that generally leads to major obstacles for businesses and hours of lost time and revenue. Rather than going with the easy proxy fix, it’s wise to do a bit more work in the beginning and establish a better localization management plan that will serve you in the long term.
Moving Beyond Proxies: Better Website Localization Strategies
Automated website translation tools are far more useful to the long-term strategy than proxy services. These take a structured continuous localization approach where your content is automatically monitored for changes and jobs are triggered in the event of an update. To use a service like this, you’re going to need to complete a few preparatory steps:
- Establish a structure: You need a site structure that mirrors the directories you use in the origin language. This provides a permanent URL path that Google will crawl when seeking out keyword matches in other languages. Plus, these separate permanent pages are independently updatable.
- Use connectors: Most major sites like Drupal and WordPress offer connectors to localization management platforms. These are the channels that you can use to trigger site updates and establish jobs in various languages.
- Map SEO: The keywords that work for SEO in English may not be the same for other languages. Map these keywords and add them to your glossary so your linguists can incorporate them into the translated text.
- Select an end-to-end platform: An end-to-end localization management platform will allow you to hire linguists, automate jobs, and monitor your results. It’s crucial to select a provider that combines localization management with business management to ensure a solution that allows you to track your ROI.
The question “what is localization?” has many answers, but the best solutions are built-in structured programs that allow continuous updates and improvements. Proxy services might be easy at first, but they will cost you in the long run. By putting the work in up front, you can develop a program that’s just as seamless as a proxy service without all its drawbacks.