Website Localization: How To Successfully Expand into New Markets

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8 min read

    In the fast-paced global digital marketplace, businesses must offer personalized experiences in the native languages and cultural contexts of their customers.

    Website localization, crucial for tapping into international markets, is more than translation; it's a strategic process that includes cultural and technical adaptations to resonate with diverse audiences to improve conversion rates across global markets.

    The Importance of Website Localization

    For businesses eyeing global expansion, website localization is far from a mere option—it's a critical gateway. This strategic move not only paves the way to untapped markets but also cements meaningful relationships with customers across the globe, ultimately elevating the customer experience to new heights.

    Building a multilingual website can be particularly advantageous for certain types of businesses looking to engage with an international audience. Here are a few top examples:

    • Hotels and Resorts: To appeal to international guests by offering information in multiple languages and culturally relevant services.
    • E-Commerce Platforms: To reach a wider customer base with product descriptions, pricing, and checkout processes tailored to different regions.
    • Software and App Developers: To enhance user experience by adapting content and functionality to suit local languages and cultural preferences.
    • Educational Institutions: To attract a diverse student body by showcasing academic programs and campus life in various languages.

    These are just a few examples of businesses that can benefit significantly from website localization. By customizing their websites to cater to international visitors, they can effectively communicate with a broader audience and meet the specific needs of various cultures.

    Person walking around a city using information from a localized website for directions

    Reasons to Build A Multilingual Website

    Localizing your website is key for several strategic reasons:

    1. Enhanced User Experience: A website in the user's native language improves comfort and engagement.
    2. Increased Conversion Rates: Culturally relevant content resonates better, leading to more conversions.
    3. SEO Benefits: Better rankings on local search engines drive more targeted traffic, effectively doubling your traffic per language.
    4. Competitive Advantage: Localization sets you apart in markets where competitors may not have adapted.

    Localizing for Bilingual Audiences

    For bilingual audiences, the choice to engage with content in their native language is not just a matter of comfort but also a reflection of personal identity. When a company provides localized content, it acknowledges and respects these preferences, which can significantly enhance the user experience and foster a deeper connection with the brand. This respect for the user's language and culture can lead to increased user engagement, as individuals are more likely to interact with and return to content that feels personally tailored to them.

    An illustrative case of web-focused localization is the adaptation of Canva, the graphic design platform, for non-English speaking markets. Canva has rolled out multiple language versions of its website, providing not just translated interfaces but also templates and design elements that resonate with local aesthetics and cultural preferences.

    By investing in localization, companies can transform bilingual users into brand advocates who appreciate the effort to cater to their linguistic landscape, thereby strengthening brand loyalty and establishing a competitive edge in the global market.

    Young person on a train reading her phone

    Cultural Nuance in Translation

    When building a multilingual website, it's crucial to pay attention to cultural nuances. For instance, the English idiom "break a leg," used to wish someone good luck, would be completely misunderstood if translated literally into many languages. Instead, a culturally nuanced approach would find a local expression that conveys the same sentiment of wishing good fortune.

    Similarly, humor that relies on wordplay or cultural references may fall flat if translated verbatim, as the play on words or the reference may not exist in the target culture.

    Understanding these subtleties and finding equivalent expressions that resonate with the audience can make the difference between content that feels foreign and content that feels familiar and engaging.

    Achieving Exponential Growth with Multilingual Websites

    The impact on SEO with a localized website is profound, you will be completely shocked by the impact and ask yourself why you didn't do it years ago. Once you have a localized website you effectively triple or quadruple your visibility in search, and traffic skyrockets instantly, without creating a single piece of new content.

    Though to do this effectively, you'll need to tailor SEO strategies to suit region you are targeting, as effective strategies in one region may not be as impactful in another.

    Considerations for internationalizing a multilingual website include:

    • Utilizing a translation tool like ChatGPT to simplify the localization workflow and maintain uniformity across various languages and regions.
    • Performing comprehensive keyword research with tools like Google Keyword Planner, as well as premium tools like Ahrefs or Semrush.
    • Crafting localized content that resonates with the intended audience to bolster the online presence in new markets.

    Website localization is a transformative step for businesses entering international markets, offering significant ROI by engaging customers in their cultural context. It's more than expanding reach; it's about forging deeper connections and earning trust globally.

    In subsequent sections, we'll examine how website localization can drive business growth and enhance investment returns.

    Person looking at a laptop reading a website in their local language

    Connecting with Global Customers

    Building on the significance of website localization, let's delve into how it strengthens the bond between global brands and their customers. Websites that speak the same language as their users have a higher chance of fostering customer loyalty and enhancing the overall customer experience.

    This simply means that content should be tailored to cater to cultural nuances and establish valuable connections with diverse global audiences. The key to accomplishing this lies in effective localization.

    Localized content on a localized site offers several benefits for website visitors, including:

    • Streamlining cognitive effort to process and access information
    • Simplifying navigation
    • Fostering positive website attitudes
    • Creating a more engaging and user-friendly experience

    By effectively catering to these cultural nuances, businesses can drive customer loyalty and enhance overall customer satisfaction.

    Increasing Web Traffic and Domain Authority

    Website localization is intricately linked to SEO as it involves creating content that is not only relevant and engaging to local audiences but also optimized for search engines in different regions.

    By tailoring web design to local preferences, localizing SEO strategy, and conducting keyword research that resonates with the local market, website localization can significantly increase web traffic and improve domain authority. Offering a localized version of a website can significantly improve its performance in the target market.

    Localization can also have a positive impact on your website’s SEO for the new language, the existing source language, and ultimately on your domain authority. By adapting to the local culture and preferences, businesses can create a more engaging and user-friendly experience for their target audience. This, in turn, leads to improved user engagement metrics by:

    • Facilitating effective communication in the native language of the target audience
    • Creating a sense of familiarity with the content in various regions
    • Assessing the resonance of localized content with customers in different geographical areas and markets.
    Team taking about how to update their website localization process
    One of the often-overlooked benefits of website localization is the opportunity to rank for keywords that are less competitive in international search queries. By localizing your website, you can target specific keywords that are relevant to each region's audience. This is because many keywords that are highly competitive in English-speaking markets might have lower competition in other languages.

    Localization Process

    It's essential to understand that localizing a website is not always about creating brand new content for different markets. Often, leveraging existing content can be a powerful website localization strategy. It demonstrates a dedication to meeting customers where they are, in the language they are most comfortable with.

    Even in regions where a significant portion of the population may be bilingual and proficient in English, localizing content into the native language can significantly impact customer relations. It's a thoughtful approach that communicates, "You matter to us, and we're dedicated to connecting in your preferred language." This effort does not go unnoticed and can lead to increased trust and loyalty from customers.

    The localization process for websites typically includes:

    • Analyzing the target audience and market needs
    • Translating website content into the desired languages
    • Adapting the site's design to accommodate cultural preferences
    • Localizing SEO strategies for regional search engines
    • Testing the website for functionality and user experience in different languages
    • Ongoing updates and maintenance of localized content
    Person in a flower shop looking to expand business to new markets

    Choosing the Right Languages

    When deciding which languages to translate your website into, it's not just about quantity—it's about quality and relevance to your audience. While Spanish and Chinese are among the most spoken languages globally, the key is to identify the languages of your actual or potential customers and the markets you wish to penetrate.

    It might seem logical to target languages with a high volume of search queries, but volume doesn't always equate to value. A smaller, more targeted language group with a higher likelihood of conversion can offer a better return on investment (ROI). For instance, you may find that your website receives 10,000 clicks from Spanish-speaking users, but this results in only 100 conversions. On the other hand, a language with 5,000 clicks might yield 250 conversions, indicating a more engaged audience and a higher ROI.

    Smaller markets are often better than larger markets

    Consider hypothetically a local artisanal soap company looking to expand its online presence. The business initially targets Spanish due to its widespread use, attracting many visitors but witnessing low conversion rates. However, upon analyzing their traffic, they discover a niche market in a Scandinavian country.

    Despite a lower overall search volume for their products in the local language, the conversion rate is significantly higher. By localizing their website into Swedish for example, the soap company taps into a market where customers are more inclined to purchase their unique products.

    In essence, the decision to localize into a particular language should be driven by strategic market research and an understanding of where your most profitable customer segments are located. By aligning your localization efforts with markets that have higher conversion potential, you can ensure a more efficient allocation of resources and a stronger market presence.

    Person on a train holding a phone looking at the Eiffel tower passing by in the distance

    Expanding Reach with Multisearch Engine Optimization

    In the broader context of SEO strategies for website localization, it's vital to remember that Google, while dominant, is not the only search engine to consider. A comprehensive approach to localization includes optimizing your website for multiple search engines to maximize visibility and traffic potential.

    Bing, for example, holds a considerable share of the search engine market in certain regions and demographics. By adding your site to Bing's index, you're not just casting a wider net for traffic but also acknowledging the preferences of a diverse global audience.

    To effectively diversify your SEO efforts and enhance your website's international reach, you should:

    • Take advantage of Bing Webmaster Tools for site registration and monitoring
    • Focus on delivering high-quality content that aligns with Bing's ranking criteria
    • Research and integrate keywords that cater to Bing's unique audience
    • Prioritize mobile optimization, given Bing's emphasis on mobile user experience
    • Utilize structured data to improve the visibility and click-through rates of your Bing search listings

    Leveraging Webflow's Tools for Website Translation

    Once you've crafted your expansion strategy and gained insights into the new market you aim to capture, you have to localize your site. This used to be a monumental undertaking.

    That's no longer the case — Webflow's new localization feature is a game-changer. It offers a comprehensive out-of-the-box solution for localizing websites to cater to global visitors. This encompasses design customization, built-in machine translation, and top-notch SEO tools so you can tailor your site for different locales.

    Building Multilingual Websites in the Browser

    Building a localized site or translating content for an existing site has never been more straightforward, thanks to Webflow. With its user-friendly interface and comprehensive suite of localization tools, Webflow empowers designers and content managers to create multilingual websites with ease.

    Webflow's platform simplifies the process of website localization by offering built-in features that allow for quick translations and cultural adaptations without the need for extensive coding knowledge. This means that businesses can efficiently expand their global reach by providing content that resonates with international audiences.

    Quick note that we're not associated with Webflow, we just love how easy it is to build a great website with. This site was built and localized using Webflow.

    Browser window displaying the webflow homepage

    Instant translation magic

    The translation journey in Webflow begins with the simplicity of automated processes, but it doesn't end there. At the click of a button, Webflow's integrated translation capabilities provide an initial automated translation, which is just the first step towards high-quality localized content. This automated feature is designed to handle the heavy lifting of translating bulk content, setting the stage for further refinement.

    However, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The essence of achieving truly localized content lies in the balance between automated and manual processes. After the initial automated translation, it's crucial to engage in manual editing to fine-tune the content for accuracy and cultural relevance.

    Webflow's CMS streamlines this process, offering an intuitive interface where teams can manage and update translations with ease. Custom fields for different languages can be defined, and switching between languages is seamless, ensuring that your site maintains consistency and relevance in every market.

    Customizing Images and Alt Text

    Images play a crucial role in website localization. They not only enhance the visual appeal of a site but also bridge cultural gaps by conveying universal concepts that transcend language barriers. Webflow offers the ability to customize images and translate alt text to cater to the specific audience of each locale. Currently this is only offered to Enterprise customers, but you can use custom code to modify content to a locale.

    When selecting culturally appropriate images for different locales in website localization, it is crucial to steer clear of hand gestures, symbols, and body parts that could potentially cause offense in specific cultures. Furthermore, it is essential to be mindful of religious and cultural sensitivities to ensure that the graphics and images are relatable to the target audience and uphold cultural significance.

    Combining Machine-Powered and Manual Translation

    Website localization thrives on the harmonious integration of machine and manual translation, each playing a pivotal role in the process. Machine translation, including tools like Chat GPT (specifically GPT-4), Bing Microsoft Translator, and Amazon Translate, provides a valuable starting point.

    Webflow harnesses these technologies to offer an initial translation that captures the broad strokes of content, saving time and laying the groundwork for refinement.

    Combining machine-powered and manual translation memory for website localization
    The initial machine translation sets the stage, but it's the human touch that brings the performance to life. Manual refinement is the key to ensuring that the translation resonates with the target audience on a deeper, more culturally connected level.

    Machine translated content needs to be edited

    This stage of the process involves professional translators, whom you can readily find on freelancer sites like Fiverr, to enhance the machine-generated content, focusing on:

    • Linguistic accuracy and grammatical integrity
    • Cultural nuances and appropriateness
    • Contextual relevance and emotional resonance

    By intertwining the efficiency of machine translation with the discerning eye of human expertise, Webflow facilitates a website localization process that is both efficient and effective. This two-step process ensures that the final content is not just accurately translated but also culturally attuned and contextually relevant, paving the way for a truly localized user experience.

    Best Practices in Website Localization

    To ensure the success of your website localization project, consider adhering to the following best practices:

    1. Research Target Markets: Conduct market research to understand the preferences, behaviors, and cultural nuances of the target audience. This ensures the localization is tailored to meet their specific needs.
    2. Embrace AI and Low-Code Solutions: Utilize AI and low-code platforms like Webflow to automate tasks, predict user preferences, and deploy localized content efficiently.
    3. Test Before Launching: Perform comprehensive testing to ensure the website functions correctly and that the content is accurate, grammatically correct, culturally appropriate, and contextually relevant.
    4. Continuously update: Keep the localized content up-to-date, especially when changes are made to the primary language of the site.

    By following these practices, you can create a localized website that resonates with international audiences and performs well in the target market.

    Tourists overlooking a skyline after visiting a website localized to their language


    In conclusion, website localization is a strategic imperative for businesses aiming to thrive in the global market. It extends beyond translation, integrating cultural and technical nuances to form deep connections with international audiences.

    By investing in localization, any company or individual with a website can unlock new markets, enhance customer satisfaction, and solidify their global presence. The process, facilitated by modern tools and platforms, enables businesses to effectively resonate with local consumers, expanding their reach and customer base in the international arena.

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    Key Takeaways

    1. Website localization is critical for global market success, going beyond simple translation to adapt content, design, and functionality to local contexts, improving user engagement and brand positioning.
    2. Effective localization requires a balance of SEO optimization and cultural adaptation, utilizing machine translation for efficiency while ensuring accuracy and relevancy through manual refinement and cultural consulting.
    3. The key to scaling website localization lies in the optimal integration of machine translation with human editing. An initial automated translation sets the foundation, which can then be meticulously refined by professional translators to ensure linguistic accuracy, cultural nuance, and contextual relevance.


    How do I localize my website?

    Localizing your website is easier than ever. With tools like ChatGPT for initial translations and Webflow for design adaptations, you're already halfway there. For WordPress users, there are plenty of plugins that simplify the process further. Finalize your localization with the help of multilingual editors from Fiverr, and you've got a globally resonant website, all managed single-handedly.

    What is an example of localization?

    An example of software localization is Figma, which has broadened its existing customer base by translating its product into French, German, and Japanese, and adapting the interface and features to align with the regional usage of these languages.

    What is the difference between website translation and website localization?

    Website translation focuses on language conversion, while website localization involves adapting the content, messaging, and brand to meet the cultural and functional expectations of different markets. This means website localization goes beyond language barriers to cater to global audiences.

    What is the localization of web applications?

    Localization of web applications is a multifaceted process that goes beyond mere translation of text. It encompasses adapting the web application's interface, content, and overall functionality to suit the cultural norms, legal requirements, language preferences, and usability standards of the target audience in a specific geographical region.

    How does localization affect SEO?

    Localization affects SEO by influencing local search ranking factors and prioritizing localized content on search engines like Google. It's crucial to customize SEO strategies for successful website localization.