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Multilingual SEO: Tips and Tricks for Optimizing Your Site for Other Languages

Maintaining your company’s website ranking can be a difficult task with its own set of challenges. You know that maximizing your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important when it comes to gaining visibility for your company, product, or service. So, what happens when you decide to sell and market your product overseas or to a multilingual audience? Is translating your website content enough?

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Ultimately, that answer is no. While translating your website content will help you connect with your international audience, you also need to consider a multilingual SEO plan to ensure you reach your target audience. Here are some tips and tricks for optimizing your site for other languages.

What is multilingual SEO and why is it important?

Multilingual SEO covers both translating content into other languages and optimizing that content in such a way that it drives search traffic in those other languages. Developing a multilingual SEO strategy for your translated content is what helps customers find your content. After all, what good is a translated website if no one in your intended market is able to find it?

Planning your multilingual SEO strategy

Before anything else, it’s important to develop a solid plan for what you want to do and learn more about the demographic you’re trying to reach.

Get to know the audience you’re targeting

Your new market most likely has different customs and cultural practices than your English-speaking, U.S.-based audience does. A lot of how they search is determined by language. You must choose keywords and phrases that your target audience would enter into search engines. This is how you successfully draw them in. What is important to your current consumer base may not be important at all to the multilingual consumers you are looking to reach. If you do not already know this multilingual market inside and out, be sure to find a consultant who does. Skimping here could have a particularly negative impact on your search engine rankings, and therefore, your sales revenue.

Some preliminary questions you may want to ask yourself as you’re creating a strategy:

  • How are our customers searching for information online? 

  • What is important to them?

  • Is there anything currently use in our marketing strategy that may be perceived as negative or offensive to this new audience?

Shape your SEO strategy to fit your target market, instead of trying to make your target market fit into your current SEO strategy for English speakers.

Decide what content you’ll have professionally translated and adapt your SEO strategy there first

Your SEO strategy can be laid out in phases, depending on which pages of your website you plan to have translated first. If you are not planning to translate certain pages (perhaps those that are not relevant to your non-English speaking market), then there won’t be any need to translate or optimize keywords or create SEO descriptions for those specific pages. 

Doing so could actually have a potentially negative impact. If you create Spanish search terms for pages that haven't been translated or localized yet, the user who searched for those terms will visit your website expecting to read that content in Spanish. If the site is only in English, the visitor may feel disappointed and frustrated with your company, and click away without visiting other pages of your site that may actually be localized specifically for them.

This strategy is typically easier on your overall translation budget as well. Choose the pages that will help you reap the most benefits from your investment, and either save the rest for later, or leave them in English, depending on your long-term goals. Mirror your SEO efforts with this overall plan.

Don’t forget about the details behind the scenes that will help your search engine rankings

There is a lot that goes into multilingual SEO strategies that has nothing to do with what your new site visitors will actually see when they visit your site, but is still just as important to your overall goals. 

  1. Translate your tags and keywords. Even the best translation won’t show up as often in a search result if your tags are not translated into terms your target market is actively searching. They won’t be searching for these keywords in English; they’ll be searching for them in their primary language. The tags you use should reflect this as well.

  2. Think about search terms your multilingual customers may use in a voice search. When you’re creating your multilingual keywords, be sure to optimize some of these for voice search as well. You can read more about how these differ from typical search terms here.

  3. Include hreflang tags for any page with multilingual offerings. Hreflang tags are basically the code you include on the back end of your site to show search engines like Google that you have content in multiple languages. In a nutshell, it is the coding behind why a user sees the correct URL/language in their search results. Having these tags in pace also prevents content duplication issues (which actually hurts SEO rankings by making your pages compete against each other!).

  4. Consider location settings. When coming up with a new SEO strategy for foreign markets, don’t neglect to include the country, city, or even the region your new target market is in when deciding on keywords to pair with your product. People tend to use “near me” or city names in their search when trying to find a product they’d like to purchase or browse for online. Having the location information in your SEO setup will help your site appear more often in search engines.

Make it easy for site visitors to switch between languages if they don’t land on your page in their preferred language

If someone is searching in Spanish when they come across your page, chances are good that they’ll be automatically directed to your Spanish-language site. However, sometimes people come across your page through other means (links from a friend, searching in English because they assume more information is available, etc.) so having an easy way for them to switch to their preferred language is a great way to take them there. You can make a drop-down menu available for the language options you offer, for example. Keep it visible and easy to find for anyone who may wish to switch to another language. If they have to search for it, they’ll be more likely to click away.

Planning a brand-new SEO strategy for an international market can be difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone! Did you know we offer website audits? We’d be glad to take a look at yours and help create a strategy for your international growth! Feel free to contact us if you’d like to tackle this one together.

How a Localized Product Label Can Maximize Profits

Your product packaging can be a great marketing tool when a consumer is looking to make a purchase in-store. A label should not only be on-brand, but it must stand out from those of your competitors. This includes complete accuracy with regard to the information provided on it. If you sell products abroad, you will need to localize product labels to meet certain requirements in each country. In doing so, you will help your company maximize your profits (and avoid potential losses), to help guarantee your brand’s success abroad.

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How does investing in label localization help maximize profits?

Getting your product label ready for distribution in other countries is more than just updating the words on the label. It is about making sure your product connects with a new audience as they shop. 

A properly localized product label should not appear as though you’ve just adapted the original label so you can sell to a new audience. It should appear as though the label was created with these consumers in mind. Color choices, imagery and the correct use of cultural nuances can be just as important as the text itself. 

Consumers who not only understand the text on your label, but who also connect with what they see, will be more likely to trust your company and willing to try your product. This boosts sales, increase word-of-mouth marketing, brand recognition and your expansion into the international market.

On the other hand, if your label is not properly localized for the market where your product is being sold, the consumer may be confused as to how your product can serve them, and may, therefore, not make the purchase. If the translation is not professionally done, you risk offending the consumer or providing incorrect or misleading information as well.

What should you consider when localizing your product label?

Each country where you plan to sell your products will have its own set of regulations in order for your products to be sold there. If you want to enter the Canadian market, for example, your product label will almost certainly need to be listed in both English and French, not just one or the other. You will also have to take into consideration potential cultural differences. For example, while it may not be necessary to include in the U.S., some countries will require you to include whether or not a consumable product is Halal, or if it includes any alcohol. 

It is also important to make sure your label contains the correct format for dates and measurements that may be listed on your label. In the U.S., our dates are usually listed in a month/day/year format. However, in most countries within the E.U., that format changes to day/month/year. If your product has an expiration or sell-by date, abiding by the appropriate date format is crucial to ensuring that customers do not consume items past the expiration date. You should also use the metric system for most labels for products sold outside of the U.S..

What are the risks if your product label is not properly localized?

If your product label is not properly localized, you not only run the risk of not connecting with your target audience, but you could also run some potentially large financial risks. If the label has inaccurate information listed or if allergens are not listed correctly due to an inaccurate translation, for example, there could be a great risk of injuries, illnesses or even fatalities. Not only would your company take a hit in legal fees up front, but you will also likely need to recall the product, spend the time and money to correct the label, experience decreased sales, or even be put out of business altogether, depending on the severity of the issue. 

To help circumvent this type of risk, avoid using automatic or machine translation, and hire a professional team of translators, editors and localizers to get it right the first time.

Looking to enter a new market? Feel free to reach out and set up a free consultation.

Audiovisual Translation Options: Which One is Best for Your Video?

According to the American Translators Association, more than 62% of the world’s 3.5 billion Internet users worldwide consumed digital video as of 2017. If your goal is for your video content to reach a foreign-language market, that content needs to be localized. There are several options for audiovisual translation, so how do you choose which is the right fit for your company and video? We’ve listed a few of the most common options to help you decide.

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Subtitling versus dubbing: what’s the difference?

Subtitling is when the audience hears the video content in its original language and, in turn, reads a transcript of what is said via translations, generally at the bottom of the screen.

Dubbing (or Voice Over), on the other hand, is an audio recording of the video script that replaces the original audio. Viewers hear the video content in their own language instead of in the originally recorded language.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of subtitles? 

Proponents of subtitling often prefer being able to hear the audio as it was originally intended to sound. With subtitles, none of the on-screen talent’s emotions are lost. Also, from a financial perspective, subtitling is usually less expensive than dubbing, because there is no need to hire voice talents or secure a recording studio and engineer.

On the other hand, subtitles may lose some of the meaning you would otherwise hear in audio. They must be short enough that the viewer can read them while the original audio is playing. If the text translation of the audio runs long, the subtitler is faced with a dilemma on what to cut. Filler words and other seemingly unimportant parts of the text are sacrificed in order to meet the character limit imposed by subtitles. Moreover, if a video is “busy” with a lot of graphics or action, subtitles may distract viewers. They could miss key parts of the visual experience due to having to read the subtitles. If a viewer looks away, they could potentially miss an important part of the dialogue as well.

What are the pros and cons of dubbing?

Fans of dubbing usually prefer it over subtitling because it typically allows for an easier viewing experience. Since viewers hear the audio in their own language, they can focus entirely on what’s happening on screen, without the distraction of reading subtitles. 

Then again, what’s being heard through the dubbed audio will almost never match the pace or movements of the person’s lips as they move on screen, similar to poor lip syncing. Some viewers are more distracted when a voice does not “match” the actors’ movements than they are by subtitles. Dubbing is also typically more costly. You will have to find a professional voice talent who speaks the native language of the audience you’re targeting, as well as find a recording engineer and studio. The process is typically more time-consuming than that of subtitling.

Should I choose subtitles or dubbing?

Often, this is a stylistic preference, and it is the reason that many companies offer both options for video content. However, it may not be in your budget to invest in both right away. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when determining whether to select subtitles or dubbing:

  • What do I know about my target audience? The type of audience viewing your video may have a large impact on the type of audiovisual translation they prefer. Research preferences by country. Oftentimes, viewers are more accustomed to one type of experience over another, depending on what is most popular in their country. A person’s typical preference may also differ by age range or reading abilities as well. Do not assume that it’s a one-size fits all approach when making this choice.

  • What type of content am I producing? Just as audiences are usually more accustomed to a viewing experience depending on previous experience, the same can be said of the type of content you produce. Consider whether your audience is in a business setting, part of a targeted ad campaign, viewing solely for entertainment, etc. Also consider how “busy” your video is and if subtitles may hinder the experience for viewers.

  • Where will I share this content? Will you share your video on social media, present it as part of a business training, release content on DVD or Blu-ray, or embed it on your website? Localized videos may require different approaches depending on where you plan to share them. If your audience typically views your videos with the sound off as they scroll through social media, for example, subtitles may make the most sense. If you share a video in a business setting where people will be expected to take notes on what they are learning, dubbing may be the right option instead.

At the end of the day, both of these audiovisual translation options have merit for localizing your content. Spend some time researching what will work best for your company and target audience each time you create a video you’d like to localize. 

Need subtitles or dubbing for your latest video content? Contact us to set up a consultation.

The California Consumer Privacy Act in 2020: What You Need to Know

In January 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will take effect. Similar to the General Data Protection Regulation that went into effect in the European Union (EU) in 2018, the CCPA will give California consumers sweeping control over their personal data. While the law only protects those who reside in California, it does not mean that you only need to pay attention to the security of consumer data if your company is located there. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you and your consumers are protected under the California Consumer Privacy Act.

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How do you comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act?

The CCPA grants CA consumers ten basic rights, but here’s a general summary:

  1. The right to know what type of personal information your business has collected about them, where the information came from, what you’re doing with it, if you’re disclosing or selling it, and to whom.

  2. The right to say no. Consumers have the right to completely opt out of your being able to sell their information to a third party.

  3. The right to delete any and all data or personal information they have posted.

  4. The right to fair treatment without discrimination no matter if they exercise their rights under the CCPA or not. Your business cannot treat these consumers differently because of their decisions regarding their privacy.

Also noteworthy, children under 16 must opt in manually in order for businesses to be able to sell their information to third parties.

In addition to providing consumers the information they have the right to know with regard to the use of their personal data, consider providing this information in various languages for the populations you serve. California, like many states, is home to many non-native English speakers. Take this into account when preparing and privacy policy, disclaimer or informational content.

Whom does the California Consumer Privacy Act affect?

While the CCPA only protects consumers in California, most for-profit businesses will be impacted by it going into effect. Your business does not have to be located in California for this to matter to you. If your company deals in consumer data and has customers in California, then this law impacts you. 

How does the California Consumer Privacy Act impact me?

If your company already made provisions and changes when the GDPR came into effect, you may have some of the necessary infrastructure for compliance with the CCPA. Your data protection and data rights infrastructures must comply with the law for CA citizens. You can develop an infrastructure that handles California resident data differently than the rest of the country, or you can reform all of your regulations to cover all consumers, without trying to offer a different online experience for consumers depending on where they reside. The law also contains a 12-month “look-back period” so when the law goes into effect on January 1, consumers can access data going back to January 1, 2019.

What happens if I don’t comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act?

Financial penalties are at stake if you do not comply with the law when it goes into effect on January 1, 2020. If there is a breach, you could be fined $100-$750 per consumer, per incident. If the attorney general is involved, this fine can go up to $7,500 per incident.

If your company is not already compliant with these new standards, it is important to put a plan in place to make sure your data protection requirements are in place sooner rather than later to avoid fines and scrutiny from unintentional breaches. 

The contents of this website are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.  An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues.

3 Tips for Localizing Your Marketing Collateral

Once you decide to launch your product or service in another country or region, it is time to focus on localizing your content. Localization should be a top priority for a successful launch. However, this is only part of the process. 

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Here are three tips to help you when it comes to localizing your marketing collateral for an overseas market.

1. Account for text expansion to maintain the visual appeal of your marketing efforts

Translated text rarely, if ever, takes up the exact same amount of space as the original text. French or Spanish text, for example, may take up to 30% more space than English to convey the same ideas. This will likely impact the layout and design of your brochures or web copy. If there was not enough space left in the English copy, the translated text may be too crowded to fit. Conversely, if the translation happens to be shorter, there may be too much white space on the page. Multilingual Desktop Publishing teams can assist with making the text fit your space in a way that maintains visual appeal.

2. If you plan to print, consider the size of paper in other countries.

Paper sizes are not always the same in every country. For example, the standard paper size in the U.S. is 8.5”x11”. However, in many other countries throughout the world, that standard changes slightly to approximately 8.3”x11.7”. While this may not seem like a huge difference, it can make an impact in how your design team handles print marketing materials for an international audience. Your materials must be resized before printing for your international market.

3. Remember that different countries and regions utilize different numerical formats.

If your marketing copy includes product measurements or volume, the correct unit system must be used. In the U.S., we use the imperial system. We measure length in inches and feet, and volume in pints and gallons. However, the vast majority of the rest of the world uses the metric system. When localizing your content for customers outside of the U.S., your units must be converted to the metric system, utilizing centimeters and meters or liters and grams, for example. 

When it comes to phone numbers and postal codes, each country has its own distinct format. In some countries, a phone number may be 10 digits like we see in the U.S., but the area code may be just 2 numbers and the phone number 8 digits, instead of a 3-digit area code followed by a 7-digit number. Postal codes also vary by country. An Australian postal code is only 4 digits, as opposed to our 5-digit postal codes in the U.S., for example. Similarly, some countries have shorter or longer phone numbers and postal codes, but it is important to make sure your content reflects the current format in these local markets so that customers are not confused. 

Moreover, online forms should accept the correct versions of these items when someone is ordering from a foreign IP address or has chosen another country as their shipping location. Your website should not force someone with a 4-digit postal code to enter 5 digits, or your customer will be unable to order from your site.

If you have already localized your products or services, what is one thing you’ve learned about the process that you hadn’t thought about before you got started? We’d love to hear about your experience!

4 Tips for Working with Influencers to Market to Your Foreign-Language Audience

Engaging multilingual customers is becoming increasingly important in a world that is constantly connected. Brands must find ways to engage customers online and make a real connection in order to earn their business. You may be asking, “How do I market to a multilingual audience?”

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When it comes to marketing strategies, traditional ads are becoming less valuable and relevant for many consumers. Around 30% of people utilize ad blockers to try and remove traditional ads from their online experience. This is a large percentage of your target demographic who will not see your ads due to ad blockers alone.

That’s why more and more brands are hiring influencers to market their products to their target audience. An influencer is someone who has the “power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience”. As of now, influencers cannot be blocked, and they can be a great way to reach key demographics that traditional ads just aren’t reaching anymore, both in English and foreign-language markets.

How do I engage a multilingual audience with an influencer marketing strategy?

Here are 4 tips for working with influencers to market to your foreign-language audience:

1. Hire an influencer who speaks the primary language of your target demographic.

You may have already found an influencer who is perfect for your English-speaking audience. However, don’t rely on the same influencers to reach your foreign-language customers. Look for an influencer who speaks their primary language so the connection feels more authentic for your target market.

2. Find someone who genuinely believes in your brand or product.

An influencer’s audience trusts them. This is why it can be detrimental for both your influencer and your brand if an influencer is not completely committed to the project. It is definitely possible to find the right person to share your product because they believe in it as much as you do, so take the time to find the best fit! Their audience will be more inclined to trust their word if the influencer truly loves the product or service they’re promoting.

3. Support the influencers you partner with.

Have a team of people dedicated to those you partner with, and if that person does not speak English as a primary language, look for a way to offer support and communication via a team who speaks the same language. The more valued a partner feels, the more likely they will be to continue doing business with you. If the partnership is the right fit, this is a win for both of you!

4. Build your own influence first.

Although you can simply pay an influencer to promote your brand publicly, many may be more interested in accessing your own network and audience than they are in a paycheck. Since an influencer is only relevant and valuable if they have an audience to influence, focus on how your brand can help them grow, too.

While influencer marketing is a great investment at the moment, traditional ads do still have their place in a comprehensive marketing strategy! But providing value for others who have the ability to authentically influence their own audience is a mutually beneficial relationship that can have a positive impact on both your brand and an influencer’s.

How to Personalize Marketing Content While Remaining Ethical in How You Collect Your Data

Personalized multilingual marketing can be extremely beneficial for your company. When you know enough about your customers to deliver content that targets them directly, it can help ensure your customers regularly receive relevant information and look forward to receiving your content. However, it’s important to make sure the personalization in these targeted campaigns feels genuine and helpful, and to avoid being intrusive or unpleasant.

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Consumers care more and more about how their data is being collected and utilized, as showcased in recent updates to laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU - which took effect in May 2018 - and the California Consumer Privacy Act, which will go into effect in January 2020. Both laws focus on the consumer’s right to privacy and control over what data is collected and stored. Not only is it important to keep these ideals in mind for all of your customers, but your multilingual marketing content should reflect these same ideals.

Here are a few ways you can interact with your multilingual audience in a personalized way without fretting about violating their privacy:

Interact with them on social media... in their own language!

Social media is perfect for personalized engagement! If you have social media posts written in your customer’s primary language, you’ll find it that much easier to communicate and engage with them! Reply to their comments and messages whenever possible. This helps foster genuine rapport, and it reminds your customers that there are humans behind your brand who want to build an actual relationship with them (not just sell them something).

Personalize email campaigns.

Email campaigns are a great way to reach those customers who have already shown enough interest in your brand to provide you with an email address. When you contact these customers, make sure the material they receive is relevant to their current relationship with your company. Localize these emails by translating the content for your multilingual customers and choosing images and content that will be relevant for your audience. If your customers reside in another country, know what it takes to remain compliant with any regulations that may be in place in their country as well.

Personalize these emails further by including their name in the email. Make sure to address them by the name that is deemed culturally appropriate. Research email etiquette for whatever language group you are targeting so that you do not risk offending a demographic group who may prefer to be addressed by their last name instead of by their first name.

Respect privacy and be transparent in your data collection practices.

While personalized content can be truly appreciated by many, there is also a fine line between your customers feeling engaged with your materials as opposed to feeling spied on using questionable data collection practices. Make sure you respect your customers’ privacy by sending them only the types of communication they have signed up to receive. Just because they included their phone number in a contact form does not mean they wish to receive text messages with offers and updates, for example. Allow them to easily opt out at any time and have full access to and control over the information you collect about them and how it is used. For a foreign-language audience, this data collection and privacy information needs to be available in their primary language.

When you create a marketing piece, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Does it feel genuine and helpful? Great! Keep using that piece. If it feels intrusive, however, consider what makes you feel that way. Chances are, if you feel content might be obtrusive, your customers will, too.  

Genuine Engagement in Automated Marketing: How to Connect Authentically with Your Multilingual Audience

Marketing automation tools help businesses save time, money, and reach people quickly and easily. These tools can be extremely effective, as long as the automation does not come at the expense of the relationships you’ve built with your current and potential customers. Your consumers don’t like to feel like they’re just a number. And your multilingual audience is no exception.

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Here are 5 ways to make sure you are connecting authentically with your multilingual audience when using automated marketing tools.

  1. Send personalized content tailored to each individual when possible. Use your automated tools to your advantage on an individual level! If you have customers’ birthdays on file, send them a personalized message (email, direct mail, or both!) wishing them a happy birthday. You can also do this for subscriber or loyalty member anniversaries if your business offers this. You can offer a special limited-time discount to entice customers to reconnect with you for any occasion, but even a simple message lets your customers know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate that you took the time to reach out, bonus discount or not.

  2. Target your ads specifically based on where you are in the business-consumer relationship. Your relationship with your customers (both potential and existing) varies from person to person. While you don’t have to send out individualized ads for each person every time you begin a marketing campaign in order to continue building that relationship, you will at least want to make sure your message is tailored to how much of a relationship you’ve already built with them. Just as you speak differently to friends you’ve known for 20 years as opposed to someone you’ve just met at an event, the content you deliver to someone who has made multiple purchases will be quite different than how you market to those who are unfamiliar with your brand. It is essential to build real relationships with your automated campaigns.

  3. Localize your marketing content with your multilingual consumers in mind; don’t just reuse your English ads. The personalized content you create won’t be effective if your consumers don’t understand or engage with it! Content should be translated into the appropriate language for your audience, and the design and layout of your materials must be relevant.

  4. Ask engaging questions and connect with your audience when they reply. The beauty of automation tools is that you can schedule content like email campaigns, ads, and social media posts in advance. Create content that is engaging; ask questions that prompt people to respond. Since you were able to schedule these items in advance, this frees up time for your team to respond when a customer takes action. If someone leaves a comment on a social media post, tag them and reply -- in their language! This shows customers that your brand genuinely cares about responding and providing them with value.

  5. Offer support in the languages your customers speak. Nothing can be more disheartening for a consumer than having questions about a product or service, and being unable to get the information they need. If you include a phone number or email address in your marketing materials, have sufficient support available in those mediums in the language(s) your customers speak. If a customer clicks a link in your online ad, the page where it directs them should also be translated and localized. Taking these steps helps ensure there are no interruptions between the marketing campaign and the purchase your customer intends to make.