Using Language to Level the Online Playing Field

Approximately 78% of today’s Internet users are outside of the U.S., which means that any company with a Web site is already a global company. Understanding how to leverage the Internet to reach these diverse, multilingual markets can enable you to better compete with larger, more established brands—many of which have not unlocked the Net’s global potential yet either. Here are some useful, low-cost tips to consider when introducing your company and products to a global audience online:

1. Use a familiar global gateway to help consumers interact with your site. Put a navigation link to the local language and/or country location choices in the upper-right corner of each page.

2. Translate the most frequently viewed pages of your site. Surveys show that the majority of consumers prefer to buy from sites where information is in their own language. Consider outsourcing the translation services to a professional translation agency as a way to reach new markets rapidly.

3. Plan for global search engine optimization (SEO) efforts from the beginning. Identify local language keywords used by your target consumers and optimize for them.

4. Write site content with a global audience in mind. Keep your sentences short and your language direct. This will reduce translation costs and will be easier to digest for all users.

5. Be thoughtful in your use of images and metaphors. Ensure they are culturally neutral or you risk offending some consumers.

6. Focus on high-quality translation to ensure the consumers are evaluating the value of your products and not the quality of your translations.

Kevin R. Bolen Chief Marketing Officer Lionbridge Boston

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