Localization is the process of adapting content for a specific marketplace. Localization is but one step in the translation process when the target audience is foreign to your home market. In effect, translation and localization are co-dependent.
The quickest and most obvious way to go after foreign business is by way of your website. A multilingual website signals that you mean business. It also delivers a clear message to the people in the target market that you are sensitive to their language needs.
Of course, in order to be effective, the message has to be crafted with local language requirements in mind. (See Translation Humour: Mangled Localization)
In addition to appropriate language, the website localization process should also take into account the search engine optimization idiosyncrasies of the local marketplace. After all, it's one thing to have a multilingual website; it's a whole different story to have it rank in search engines such that it will readily be found.
In other words, there's little point in having a website translated into Spanish, if it's invisible to people who search the web using Spanish terminology that your website has not been optimized for.
And that's the rub. It's daunting enough to make an English language website search engine friendly, it becomes an even greater challenge for multilingual websites. Considerations like special characters and displaying them properly, translators unfamiliar with the search terminology of the local culture, regional search filters, etc. are but some examples.
When it comes to selling products or services that have universal appeal, think in terms of the global outlook but execute with local markets in mind.
Translation, though critical, is but one aspect of the marketing requirements. Keep in mind that selling to consumers in different regions of the world will require that you apply techniques, wording, tactics and strategies that are suitable to a given locale. Selling a product or service in the province of Quebec would demand a different approach to the one used in, say Vancouver, British Columbia; the same would apply to a State of Maine audience versus a Los Angeles audience – same country, very different people.
You have to figure out how to relate to a multitude of local audiences. One important consideration is humour – what may be funny to a white New York audience may not be received or perceived as even remotely humourous by a hispanic audience in New Mexico, let alone Mexico. So tread carefully; play it safe, avoid playing the comedian.
Target Market Considerations
Your online marketing program's targeting must go beyond a localized response page. The landing page of the URL should also be localized.
Content should be available in your prospects' native-language.
Non-roman alphabet languages (Russian, Arabic, Chinese...) will require a different page layout paradigm. Don't assume that an American design will be pleasing to visitors who read from right to left.
Don't lose sight of privacy legislation. Rules vary widely from one jurisdiction to another, from the very restrictive (Scandinavia is an example) to the permissive. "Opt-in" and "Opt-out" rules and controls also vary widely.
The bottom line is research. Online marketers need to do their homework for every country they wish to target in order to sell effectively and legitimately in far off locales.
"A time-honored pursuit, Machine translation (MT) is the application of computers to the task of translating texts from one natural language to another. One of the very earliest pursuits in computer science, MT has proved to be an elusive goal, but today a number of systems are available which produce output which, if not perfect, is of sufficient quality to be useful in a number of specific domains."
Source: European Association for Machine Translation
Machine Translation is a somewhat archaic term that encompasses modern-day translation software. Translation programs cover a wide range of applications: simple bi-directional dictionaries; terminology databases (aka as Translation Memory); so-called batch-translation systems driven by sophisticated algorithms; and, online, web-based quick-and-dirty translations.
Translation software has matured and is becoming more widely used within the translation industry, serving as a support tool to improve productivity especially where translation assignments contain repetitive language. Technical documentation and manuals are good examples of translation projects containing repetitive text.
Wikipedia Overview Machine Translation
Free Translation Classifieds Directory Open Source Translation Software
Free Translation Classifieds Directory Free Online Translation Tools
Why you should be wary of Machine Translation Machine Translation Machinations
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