This article, written by Ora Solomon, was originally published by Women2.0 in June, 2012.
¿Habla español? Even if you don’t, wouldn’t it be fantastic if your corporate website did? Imagine your brand selling itself in flawless Spanish to the 150+ million hispanohablantes on the Internet. Picture how this new website language could translate into a wealth of new customers, new income and ultimately a new empire for your brand.
As the third most popular language of digital surfers behind English and Chinese, the language of Frida, Shakira and Isabel Allende can take you places your English website has never gone before.
What’s more — localizing your web presence for Spanish-speakers can be as easy as uno, dos, tres. Follow these five basic tips to get started:
Localization Tip #1 – Choose the right Spanish for your market.
Universal Spanish is certainly an option for your new Spanish website, and it can effectively enable you to reach a broad audience. But if you have specific markets in mind for your products, such as Argentina, Mexico or Spain, the most effective thing you can do is to use the “flavor” of Spanish appropriate to each country on your website. Granted, this attention to detail requires more time, but tranquilo — a professional translation company will give you the option of localizing your site into Latin American, Mexican and European Spanish. These three flavors cover your bases. Your translation partner will make certain that you say Usted, Vos or Tú (three different ways of saying “you”) in the right context and they’ll recast your business-critical content using the appropriate cultural cues for your target countries.
Localization Tip #2 – Get greedy with your SEO strategy early.
We can’t discuss websites these days without uttering “SEO” (search engine optimization) at least a few times. Allow yourself to get greedy when it comes to claiming territory for your brand in international search space — and do so from the outset. Your new Spanish website(s) will fare better if you optimize them for search as you’re having them translated. Here are a few strategic moves that will give you an immediate edge in the Spanish-speaking digital arena:
- Lock in a local domain, such as .ar for Argentina or .es for Spain. Search engines give preference to sites with local, top-level domain extensions (ccTLDs = country code top level domains). Consider this an investment in your future page rankings.
- Pick the right keywords for each locale. Careful keyword selection is vital to your Spanish website’s visibility and viability. Instead of translating your English keywords, you’ll find it pays to research the most common search terms for your specific markets. These words and phrases will be the building blocks of your new translated websites and should be seeded throughout titles, descriptions and content.
- Build local links – Intensive link building is just that — intense — but it gets results. There is no real magic to it — quantity and quality can both pay off in different ways. The path of least resistance may be for you to work with an in-country marketing partner who’s familiar with local content sites and can swiftly build a hefty collection of inbound links.
Localization Tip #3 – Pare down your pages (for translation).
Good news – you stand to save mucho dinero on your website translation project if you handpick the pages you want translated in advance, while eliminating those that are less relevant for your new customers. For example, one option is to create a microsite featuring a product or two that a Colombian audience would especially appreciate. If you’d prefer to go full throttle with your website adaptation and localize your main site, carry out a content audit to determine which sections of your website are less appropriate for international audiences. If you don’t think you can add multilingual blogging to your agenda this year, you may choose to remove your blog from the to-translate list.
Localization Tip #4 – Polish your marketing copy through transcreation.
All marketing copy is not created equal. This is especially true for translated marketing copy. Without the elbow grease of an expert marketing translator, your snappiest copy will lose its punch in Spanish. So what’s the antidote to weak marketing translations? A dose of transcreation. This is the technique of re-creating copy, whether a slogan, tagline, article, etc., in another language using creative license and local flair, while still expressing the core idea of the original.
Transcreation is what brings your content to life and gives it polish. But who can take on this task for you? A professional translation agency specializing in marketing translation. They’ll add an extra quality-driven step to the marketing translation process, reworking your Spanish copy so that it resonates with your local customers.
Localization Tip #5 – Make a mobile version.
According to Pew Hispanic Center’s Latinos and Digital Technology study, Latinos lead the U.S. population in terms of embracing mobile technology. If the U.S. Hispanic market is on your wish list, mobile is a must. But mobile is also a natural step once your main website has been localized. The mantra for you here is simplicity, focus and usability. A mobile site with complicated navigation or too much information can scare people away. Keep it simple, focus on what your Spanish-speaking customers want, make the user interface friendly, and you’ll be off to a great start.