Localization Tips for SEO Experts: Helping Businesses Go Glocal

Ironically, perhaps, localization is most relevant to businesses that aim for a more global reach. Typically, it refers to translating and localizing content — websites, mobile apps, software, and other digital products — so that the language, graphics, and its SEO appeals more directly and effectively to visitors who speak and read a different language or live in a different place. 

It’s not just linguistic adaptations — localization also considers cultural preferences as well as technical conversions for different locations, such as currency and metric standards. (US companies need to consider these when marketing north and south of the border.)  

But even local businesses need to take localization techniques into account, because these same principles apply to people within their own locale, people who speak a different mother tongue and demographic groups with different preferences. One great help for getting started would be to find a translation company that offers localization services. We’ll consider these factors and suggest resources to help SEO professionals assist their clients to “glocalize“ their content cost-effectively.

What are localization services and how can they benefit local businesses?

There is a well-known slogan to “think globally, act locally.” Like most slogans, it can be repeated mindlessly and become meaningless. However, for SEO professionals, we suggest that the concept of “going glocal” can translate, literally, to tangible benefits in terms of search engine rankings and consequently, higher client satisfaction. By now, most SEO pros know what is content localization, what is software localization and what is website localization. But here we are talking about a conceptual shift: a new localization strategy for your business and clients.

The present use case focuses on SEO professionals who provide consulting and implementation services for primarily local small-to-medium sized organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, private or public sector. We will suggest best practices and tools typically used to create local sites for the goal of globalization – that is, creating multilingual and regional websites and mobile apps – tools that can be applied successfully for local companies more concerned with counties rather than countries. If they cross borders, it’s more likely to be a neighboring state (or province, for our Canadian neighbors) rather than a foreign state.

Why is Localization Important to Local SEO Clients? 

Simply put, localization focuses more exactly on the target audience, both users and search engine crawlers. The core idea of the “glocal” approach is straightforward: the principles of localization and SEO usually used to create foreign-country or geographic versions of a site or app can be applied instead to create distinctive demographic versions of a client’s digital assets.

Translated into the language of web professionals. The idea is to use localization techniques to create “localized” subdomains or folders which target specific demographic sectors and seed an ecosystem of keywords relevant to optimizing search results for each of these sectors. That can apply to linguistic minorities, of course, but also to age or ethnic groupings. 

Benefits of Going “Glocal”: Translation and Localization Services for Local Businesses

Consider linguistic minorities in your area. Spanish is likely the largest minority language in your area. In some places in the southwest or in some urban centers, the Hispanic-speaking demographic can approach a majority. In any case, Spanish-speakers may account for a substantial part of your client’s geographic area and thus a potential audience that should be served with a distinctive version of the client’s website, app, social media and email communications.

At the very simplest level, you should create distinctive landing pages for each target group, seeding each with keywords which help those pages rise in the rankings. Or better yet, use subdomains or folders to create mini-sites or app channels targeting specific demographic sectors. If you use WordPress, consider using its multisite option to manage each subsite more efficiently, using the same templates and plug-ins. There’s no penalty for this kind of targeting if you avoid linguistic duplication. If you’re not lazy, or plagiarize, higher search rankings and happy clients will reward your extra local marketing efforts.

Going Beyond Language in Translation and Localization Services

The idea of using translation as a means to expand a more global audience is nothing new. One of the oldest examples of this can be seen in the original Rosetta Stone, made famous for allowing a more accurate translation of the Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Creating distinctive language versions, language localization, of course, is the classic primary use case for localization practices and tools. But consider other demographic groupings as well: ethnic as well as age groups. It is not racist or ageist to suggest that language and graphic choices work better with some groups than others. The tricks to use language that “speaks the language” – here not foreign language but expressions and cadence, slang and references relevant to the target group. One does not speak to a senior citizen as one would a 20-something. 

The same localization principles can be applied to ethnicity. African-Americans and Jewish-Americans have their own preferences in parlance and aesthetics which can be analyzed and targeted. One reason for the success of Facebook advertising is its ability to target demographically, not just geographically. But you can apply these targeting capabilities by localizing your client’s digital assets to account for these demographic differences.

Getting Help in Translation and Localization Services

How to get started with localization if you don’t have all the resources in-house? There are several venues to find outside help to “go glocal”:

Professional localization companies

If you’re an SEO professional, or run an SEO-focused consultancy, chances are you don’t have all of the resources to realize this “glocal” strategy in-house. Localization services have many dimensions and applications: App localization services. Software localization services.

Website localization services Likely, you’re not staffed to do all equally well. Luckily, help is only clicks away. 

Localization companies prefer working with SEO pros, who can multiply account volume once a mutually satisfactory working basis has been established. They likely will offer preferred rates “below retail.” The advantage is working efficiently with a professional agency with linguistic and technical experts on call, with the infrastructure in place to move quickly and manage efficiently. The disadvantage: small margins, as you will be limited to marking up their rates.

Freelance translation services

The alternative is to work with freelancers specializing in the target demographic. There is no shortage of web translators, language translators or writers who focus on writing to boomers or Gen-X/Yers. Find them in freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Freelancer.com. Post your project (discreetly) and select from qualified bidders, each with a profile, rates, and rating. 

The good news working with freelancers: rates are likely to be a half to a third of what agencies charge, so margins to clients can grow. Less good: you’ll need to invest more time in managing each freelance relationship, vulnerable to the uncertainties of working with human beings who get sick, get busy, take trips. One tip is to hire in pairs, one to check the work of the other and serve as backup should the other lets you down.

Machine translation and localization software

There’s an abundance of applications out there for translating and localizing content. Online services like Google Translate and Microsoft Translator have improved in recent years, though for complex tasks they can’t match a top-level human linguist. But you can use these freemium services for internal research and communications. Just don’t rely on them unchecked for published pages, or risk embarrassment.

There’s an active niche of B2B software tools for translation management and localization. These can be good investments if you plan to make these functions part of your core business, either to expand from SEO to localization or, if you develop software, to take localization in-house. Otherwise, it’s better to rely on partnerships with agencies or outsourcing to freelancers.

The Bottom Line on “Glocalization

Apply localization best practices to help even local clients rise in the global search engine rankings and expand the repertoire of your SEO business, helping you go, and grow,glocally”!

5 thoughts on “Localization Tips for SEO Experts: Helping Businesses Go Glocal”

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing this valuable information.
    I found your article really helpful. This will help me to build my online business.


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