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Website Localization from a Webmaster’s Point of View

What are the benefits of website localization from a webmaster’s point of view? You can reach more potential visitors and you can improve the rankings in the major search engines.

Is your web site ready for the global world?

English is spoken by just 35% of internet users. If your website is English only, you lose 65% of potential visitors!
More than 50% of queries on justmyfitness search engines are submitted in languages other than English.
Visitors to an e-commerce site are four times more likely to buy from a website with content in their native language.
Website localization helps you build credibility as a global player.
Localization impact on web directories and search engines
A web directory is a directory on the World Wide Web. It specializes in linking to other web sites and categorizing those links. Web directories often allow site owners to directly submit their site. The submission is then reviewed by human editors who decide if the site is appropriate for inclusion or not. A web directory is not a search engine, and does not display lists of web pages based on keywords: it lists web sites by category and subcategory.

Examples of well known web directories are Yahoo! Directory and the Open Directory Project (ODP). ODP is the most comprehensive human edited directory of the Web, compiled by a vast global community of volunteer editors. ODP is significant due to its large number of listings and its free availability for use by other directories and search engines.

Directory categorization takes into account the language: ODP’s World category is for sites in languages other than English. For example, World/Español/Computadoras would list Spanish-language sites dealing with computers.

Basically, if a site is multilingual, it may be included in the appropriate category for each language. This will definitely improve the rankings in the major search engines. Indeed human-edited directories are reputable sources and their links have great value for search engines ranking algorithms.

Anyway, inclusion in a directory strongly depends on the quality of the submitted site. Poorly written websites are rejected by the reviewers and they don’t get listed. If we stick with the example of the World/Español/Computadoras category, you will never find a site translated to Spanish by a Machine Translation (MT) tool. Indeed, human editors easily spot ridiculous mistakes generated by MT. In order to get listed in a web directory, the translation of your website must be accurate and precise: you cannot rely on computer generated translations. MT can ruin your website’s reputation and can drive your visitors away!

Regardless of the speed with which computer can process information, the quantum leap that is a characteristic of human thinking, when we reach a new conclusion based on the information presented to us and based on our human experience, is something that we will never be able to program into a machine.

When it comes to translation, humans do it better!

Localization is more than just translation

When you localize your web site, there is more than just translation. Localization requires a complete conversion from one kind of audience to a completely different one. There are many attributes beside the country’s native language: the formatting of the date and time, the representation of numbers, the symbols for currency, etc. Language translation must be coupled with necessary sensitivity to cultural differences.

Free localization services

There are some free online services that allow you to localize your website for free! For example, Free Website Localization is a cooperative translation project to help webmasters get free multilingual versions of their websites. There are many webmasters who understand English but are native speakers of another language. Thanks to the multicultural nature of its users, Free Localization effectively enables online peer to peer translations. Users can manage, coordinate and exchange the translations by means of a complete set of online localization tools.

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