In our years of experience assisting clients as their appointed Language Service Provider (‘LSP’), two prominent marketing goals always come to the forefront:
- “We want our customers to feel comfortable and familiar with our service offering (products)”.
- “We want to improve awareness of our brand in overseas markets through better visibility from our search rankings”.
In our previous INSIGHTS article, we spoke about the first goal, and the need to focus on direct bookings (in addition to OTAs) to provide an all-round stellar customer experience.
When potential customers are assured of updated (and well-translated) information, they’ll be more comfortable in making a purchase.
In this piece, we’ll expand on the second goal by discussing how to build and manage multilingual websites for better SEO rankings and content!
Why Are Multilingual Websites Important For SEO?
Would you be interested in buying a product if the information provided was only written in a language you cannot understand?
Would you keep browsing a website whose content was in a foreign language?
Although English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, with more than 378 million native speakers, there are also 743 million speakers for which English is not their native or first language.
For many of these international customers, there is no doubt that they would prefer communicating in their local languages instead.
As of 2020, English is only spoken by 25.9% of total internet users.
A 2011 Gallup poll previously showed that only 53% of internet users would accept using an English version if the website was not available in their own language.
This might seem quite high, but when you factor in the specific industry, target audience, and competitors, the numbers will fall further.
9 in 10 Internet users said that, if given a choice, they would always visit a website in their own language.
Internet users expect that businesses that operate in their countries would have a website in their local language.
All of this affects SEO as it makes your website more relevant (and hence, easier to navigate) to potential international customers.
After all, SEO has evolved way past pure keyword-stuffing, and the most consistent way to get more relevant traffic is to attract more potential customers through content that appeals to them.
GOING GLOBAL EXAMPLE: Localisation Of Brand Names & Taglines
A critical component of the strategy in localising your marketing content is the ability to create and constantly maintain your brand name, tagline and key-selling messages in the target language of your overseas market.
Making your brand name easy to pronounce locally will help increase brand recall amongst locals (Source: Localization of International Hotel Brands in China, 2016).
It should include the same marketing campaigns that one does for their domestic market, such as deployment of online and offline advertising and promotional mechanicals.
These include product marketing initiatives to support brand awareness, as well as in making inroads into social media circles, local travel news sites, chat groups and communities, etc.
When localising brand names, it is necessary to provide the LSP with appropriate inputs for their brainstorming, such as:
- What do you expect to convey with a localised name, tagline or your marketing collaterals?
- Which is preferred; transliteration, literal translation, or a combination of both?
- Any other specific product branding information, such as corporate philosophy, positioning in the market, target audience segment, auspicious connotation, etc.?
An example might be the global brand Heineken.
Direct phonetic translation would not provide a memorable name; instead, the brand is now known as ‘喜力’ (‘Xi Li’) in China, which translates to Happiness Power, and provides a positive experience to potential customers.
In terms of the Destination Marketing and Hotel Marketing, a relevant example would be Marriott Hotels, which is known as ‘萬豪酒店’ (‘Wan Hao Jiu Dian’) in Mandarin.
While the last two characters translate to ‘hotel’, the first two refer to ‘ten thousand grand/heroic/elites’. This helps to convey the luxurious and lush environment potential guests can expect from Marriott Hotels.
So how do you get started on your multilingual websites?
The First Step: Avoiding Automated Translation Tools In Your Content Localisation
Many brands start with automated translation tools to save costs, but this is not the correct approach.
For starters, there are many causes and reasons why translation could go awry.
Looking at the differences in cultural diversity, social mores and customary practices of audiences in respective foreign markets, it’s understandable that simplistic attempts to convey branding or publicity messages could get lost, erroneously interpreted or inappropriately translated.
Even Google says that ‘search engines don’t value content generated from automated translation tools’, and sometimes might even consider the content as spam!
A professional translation service is recommended instead, to provide higher quality content that can drive results.
Effective localisation of marketing content hence requires the combined efforts of:
- A trained bilingual editor (of the source and target languages)
- An in-country linguist up-to-date with the vernacular and local culture, and
- A person knowledgeable in marketing communication, to work closely with the project team.
- A person with industry-specific experience, in order to write content that the target audience is looking for.
- A person who understands your brand identity, tone of voice, and your product/service.
Key Tips To Manage Your Multilingual Website
In dedicated content localisation activities, project teams are tasked to deliver localised language content that vividly reflect on specific nuances, expressive jargons and choice-of-words commonly understood amongst a specific target community.
It is absolutely necessary to have specific resources at hand, be it in-house or outsourced, who are able to properly review all localised target language information.
This content is tailored to reflect the brand’s identity, tone of voice and constructed to engage potential customers. Instead of just translating the words, the team will focus on engaging and converting the readers into customers.
Only then will the time, efforts and expense incurred in marketing to an overseas audience not go to waste!
A list of items to focus on include:
Localisation Actions For Multilingual Content
- Collaborate On Creative Marketing Strategy
- To generate localised language advertisements, banner ads, advertorials, travel vlogs, press releases, blogs, etc.
- Launch In-country Publicity Initiatives
- Depending on budget available, these are organised events capitalising on branding with KOLs, prominent influencers, PR exhibits, etc.
- Ensure Content Consistency
- To manage approvals of translated editorials deployed on Corporate Page, Product Page, Chatbots, Booking Portals, Forms, Error and Instructional Message, Microsite, Training Material, etc.
- Launch Customised Social Marketing
- Depending on budget available, these are featured reviews on travel-related platforms, ‘push & pull marketing’, ‘attraction marketing’, etc. Respective media content should be formatted conducive to viewing on mobile devices.
SEO-Specific Marketing Actions For Multilingual Websites
- Implement Local Language SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
- This encompasses research and analyse on high-probability keywords used by target demographics. The key strategy in SEO is to maximise your target reach according to per language, per audience and by country.
- Populate Website With Indexed Keywords
- It is necessary to incorporate words or phrases specific to your brand or business identity. This is important in order to improve the ‘search’ algorithms with Search Engines’, so as to gain higher ranking or advantage with better display prominence in user’s search results.
- Deploy Web Analytics
- Your customised dashboard to monitor and help chart on measurable growth on visitor traffic, analyse conversion rate, profiling of data across sessions (such as geographical properties, demographics, specific interests, etc).
- Use Of Relevant Online Tools
- To understand and classify website readership behaviours, identified as trend or isolate as anomaly, onboarding visitors from the time they are browsing, engaging, to being monetised, etc.
Tips To Manage Your Content Localisation Budget
Of course, one of the biggest concerns we hear, is budget.
One of the key fundamentals to help realise a limited content localisation budget is to identify those parts of your website that are more relevant for your business development in specific markets.
In other words, localise content that may help with driving immediate online conversions and revenue.
Pay attention to which content are ‘Static’ and which content are ‘Active’. Corporate information and terms of reference are mostly Static Content. While Active Content refers to information that requires periodical updates or replacements such as, ‘special offers’, seasonal promotions, one-off marketing campaigns, etc.
To maximise a given budget, your first consideration should be to localise content pages with an aim to driving revenue and generate reinvestments for your follow-up marketing activities. The inputs from measurable ROI can help justify for higher-funded budgets.
For businesses in the destination marketing and hotel marketing sector, the importance of communication on a global scale is a major step forward.
When your guests or customers are provided with information intentionally localised into their preferred language, it starts the ball rolling, and promotes your effort in trying to deliver hospitable hospitality.
It not only creates in them that all-important sense of appreciation, but also a reciprocation of their recognition of your establishment.
In the end, the aim is to provide rave-worthy customer service across all online and offline touchpoints.