Monday, December 17, 2012

5 Tips To Successfully Launch Your Website In A Foreign Market

Launching your website or promoting an existing one in a new market can be very easy… if you know how to do so and if you have the resources for it!

Here are 5 easy steps to consider prior to launching your website into a new market. It is extremely important to get it right from the beginning as having a website which is country/culture tailor-made will naturally help your ranking and SEO work will help you push your website further higher.

  1. Search: Legal issues in the countries you are targeting.
  2. Understand: Keyword Research conducted by native speakers.
  3. Assess: Know your competitors.
  4. Convert: Turn your website into a local website.
  5. Adapt: Search engine opportunities.
1. Search: Legal issues in the countries you are targeting

It is extremely important to check this one first as it can save you a lot of money and troubles. Often it can be boiled down to two different cases;
  1. The country’s law does not accept your product/service/website.
  2. The country you are targeting is not “Internet friendly” and opportunities there are extremely limited or, at best, challenging to overcome.
No need to have a gambling website in order to be banned from the Internet in some countries. It can be more complicated than it appears. First of all, a product or a service can be disapproved in a state and perfectly allowed in another. Some services can be allowed but strictly controlled by a government. Some status can be very unclear: a product can be allowed by EU law, for example, but still forbidden on the country-level.

Some countries can also be very challenging when it comes to accepting foreign businesses in general, especially if they don’t have a physical office in the targeted country. It is the case for China, for example.

Finally, as a general note, some countries are not Internet friendly and promoting your website becomes utterly challenging or nearly impossible. RWB published the Internet Enemies Report 2012 where the list of countries can be found.

The World's Internet Enemies. Global Map

In short, it is always better to double check in order to avoid expenses and to focus on unrealistic goals.

2. Understand: Keyword research conducted by native speakers

Conducting market research has become fairly straightforward with the different Keyword Research tools available these days. It might not give you a deep insight of the market you are targeting, but it will surely point to the right direction.

First of all, it is important to define who your target audience is – sex, age, profession, interests etc. Once done, you will be able to define which search engine(s), social networking sites and other digital platforms you want to target and then choose the right keywords you need to consider.

As a general tip, I would advise to define categories prior to conducting the keyword research but also not to pre-expect any results and try to keep your mind as open as you can as you might find that the audience you are currently targeting is behaving/searching differently than what you initially thought.

Secondly, forget direct translation! It will only give you an idea of a topic priority within your own language boundaries. By doing a keyword research directly in the target language for a target country, most popular terms and ideas should be found. Last but not least, ask a native speaker to conduct the keyword research. Native speakers not only can speak the language but also carry with them the culture they grew up in, conceptions and traditions. They will naturally include keywords which carry the right meaning and concept.

Finally, it becomes more and more important to consider mobile platforms and therefore to collect data for those platforms. Search behaviour can vary dramatically from desktop to mobile. Different keywords can/should therefore be targeted for the two different platforms.

3. Assess: Know your online competitors

You might have an idea of who your direct competitors are, but it is highly likely that these will vary substantially across markets. Knowing your competitors and keeping this list updated will give you a good idea of what strategy you need to consider and what goals are achievable or not. By knowing exactly who you are going to compete against gives you a better understanding of what steps you need to take and forces you to understand how those competitors are currently achieving their position. This step is extremely important, especially when you want to define a link building strategy.

4. Convert: Turn your website into a local website

It is utterly important that your website means something to the audience you are targeting. Please bear in mind that interests may, again, differ dramatically from country to another – even for target demographic segments where age, gender, affluence etc. are similar.
So by doing a direct translation of a website you might find that even if that website is highly popular in your own country, it might not get as much traction in the other country you are targeting. In this case, the primary reason will often be a lack of adaptation and local trust anchors.

Trust anchors are extremely important. At one glance, it is really easy for an Internet user to decide whether they can trust your website or not. It could be through flags, colour schemes, payment facilities and symbols. This step is absolutely essential if an action is to be expected from the user, such as registration/signup or payment.

5. Adapt: Search engine opportunities

Prior to defining your strategy, an easy way to ensure an effective presence in search engines is to check what kind of features different search engines offer. A good example is Naver; you can see that the interface of South Korea’s most popular search engine is really different from any other search engine and has been tailored to fit the needs of Korean users. It displays features which are very popular amongst Korean users and even Google decided to follow more or less the same layout for its platform in an acknowledgement that its traditional approach simply wouldn’t cut it.

Google versus Naver comparison search engine results

It might become a bit trickier on Google when you target different countries, but native speakers can help you define what the most important features are from their point of view. After identifying what features targeted Internet users are using the most, you will be able to put a strategy together and aim for what your targeted audience is actually looking for.

Wrapping it up

Successfully launching your website in various markets is possible as long as you are able to be flexible in terms of content and to focus more on what the internet user wants than on what you would like them to see. Expanding online into a new market is essentially not that difficult, however succeeding is.

Anyone can convey a message, but conveying the right message often takes time and effort. Remember that local players are already doing most of these things by default, and it will almost always be those guys you will have to compete against.

Author: Benjamin Lefebvre

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cost Saving Tips on Translation Costs

Think outsourcing your e-commerce website’s translation and localization project is too cost prohibitive? Think again. Here are some scenarios in which a translation and localization partner can actually present opportunities for cost savings.

How to save $100 on language-related spending

For the company that wants to offer a few English-language documents in, for example, Spanish, it can be tempting to turn to a bilingual employee for help. However, relying on your Spanish-speaking accountant to translate your content has hidden costs. While a professional translator might charge $200 and finish the project in 30 minutes, an inexperienced individual might need three hours to do the same amount of work, creating a lost productivity cost.

How to save $1,000 on language-related spending

Outsource your multilingual typesetting services rather than leaning on your internal designers. Asian and other character languages can be difficult to work with, but it’s just as important to employ professional typesetting services for French, German, Spanish, and other languages, which carry their own challenges, including font considerations, line and word breaks, text expansion, accent marks and umlauts, and dropped text. A typesetting project that costs $800 to outsource would likely require five to 10 hours of internal typesetter time, including the requirement to purchase the necessary fonts.

How to save $10,000 on language-related spending

If you’re spending $100k or more annually on translation, find one or two providers that can handle all your projects, and then leverage vendor loyalty to get a better price. Even if you only have a couple of big translation jobs per year, a volume-negotiated savings of 1 cent per word adds up fast.

How to save $100,000 on language-related spending

If your multinational business is spending up to $500,000 on translation, cut costs with translation management technologies such as project and workflow management platforms, translation memory (TM) tools, terminology management glossaries, file exchange portals, and collaborative solutions for reviews and approvals.
While TM tools alone have the potential to save your organization nearly $100,000 in hard costs alone, workflow management systems for project submission, pre-flighting, tracking, review, and delivery drive soft-cost savings by reducing internal project management burdens.

How to save $1 million on language-related spending

If your company has a multi-million-dollar annual translation budget, maximize savings by identifying and centralizing translation services to a single or small group of reliable providers. Once you consolidate, negotiate for better per-word costs, turnaround times and rush premiums. Finally, innovate with server-based translation memory and workflow improvements. A company with a $5 million translation budget can likely cut:
  • $80,000 by consolidating vendors
  • $175,000 by negotiating better per-word rates
  • $765,000 by innovating with translation technology
While every translation and localization budget differs, almost any internationally focused business can reduce its translation costs, improve efficiency and consistency in the short term, and maximize translation spending in the long term by working with a language translation service provider. With consolidation, negotiation, and innovation, businesses can capture significant savings.

Source: Business2community
Author: Liz Elting 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What is the most difficult language to learn - and why?

There are numerous rankings of “difficult” (and “easy”) languages to learn (note that we are talking about second-language learning here, not acquiring one’s native tongue). Some such rankings are unofficial, like the ranking or the ranking at; others are official, for example the classification by DLI based on the number of hours needed to achieve a certain level.

The top spot in all these ranking is given to Chinese: lists Mandarin and Cantonese separately, as #1 and #2; lists Chinese at the top spot and the DLI classification includes un-specified “Chinese” in the most difficult group IV, together with Arabic, Japanese and Korean. But what are the main perceived difficulties in learning Chinese (whether Mandarin, Cantonese or another Chinese variety)? In addition to the general themes of an unfamiliar writing system and dialectal variation (expected of a language with about a billion speakers, like Mandarin, or even “smaller” Chinese languages: Cantonese with 52 million speakers; Shanghainese with over 77 million speakers; Taiwanese with over 25 million speakers), Chinese is difficult to learn because of the “exotic” sounds it has and especially its tone system. There are four tones in Mandarin and six tones in Cantonese.

What about learning other East Asian languages, like Japanese or Korean? These too are typically listed at the top of the difficulty ranking. Among the most difficult aspects of Japanese (in addition to its three-part writing system, including kanji, hiragana and katakana) are “an agglutinative vocabulary” and “rigid hierarchical structure of honorifics inextricably tied to Japanese society and culture”. I agree that the rich system of honorifics — markers of esteem or respect when used in addressing or referring to a person — can be difficult to learn because of the cultural knowledge that one needs in order to be able to use these grammatical forms correctly. You will run into this difficulty if you attempt to learn Japanese, Korean or Thai.
But I am not quite sure what the problem is supposed to be about the “agglutinative vocabulary”. In fact, the term “agglutinative” typically refers not to vocabulary but to the morphological system of a language. In an agglutinative language, each affix attached to the root typically expresses one grammatical property, such as gender, number or case, but not all three at once (as would be the case in a fusional language; see below). Multiple affixes can be attached to the root, and when it happens, affixes do not have much effect on each other’s pronunciation or meaning. Other examples of languages that are agglutinative and are thus said to be difficult to learn include Basque, Korean and Hungarian.

Some, though not all, agglutinative languages also have rich systems of case markers, that are used not only to mark such grammatical functions as the subject, object, indirect object, possessor, etc. but also to indicate spatial relations. While some “difficulty rankings” will scare you with statements like “Basque’s complexities … lay in its 24 cases” or “anyone hoping to pick up Hungarian must also completely conquer its whopping 35 cases”, some of these statements overexagerate. The consensus among linguists is that Basque has only 12 cases and Hungarian has only 21 cases. Two of Hungarian’s cousins — Finnish and Estonian — have somewhat “poorer” cases systems (14 cases in Estonian, 15 cases in Finnish), while others have even richer case systems: for example, certain dialects of Komi have up to 27 cases. By the record-holder in terms of the number of cases is a Dagestanian language Tabasaran with its 46 cases!

While it may appear daunting to learn so many cases, in Finno-Ugric languages, such as Finnish or Hungarian, the form of the case morpheme is the same regardless of what noun it attaches to. The situation is quite different in Slavic languages like Russian or Polish, which have fewer cases (for instance, Russian has “mere” six cases), but the forms of the case morphemes differ depending on what noun you attach the case morpheme to (these different types of nouns are known as “declension patterns”, and they are closely related to but not exactly the same as “genders”). For example, the dative (singular) in Russian is -e if it attaches to knig- ‘book’, -u if it attaches to stol- ‘table’ or -i if it attaches to mater- ‘mother’. Thus, instead of learning one set of 15 case affixes in Finnish, for Russian you need to learn three sets of six (i.e., 18) case affixes, as well as to know which affixes to attach to which nouns. Besides, to master the Russian case system you will need to learn the various exceptions, which too are more common in fusional languages like Russian than in agglutinative languages like Finnish. My conclusion: agglutinative languages may be somewhat easier to learn (at least, in terms of the memory load) than fusional languages; the only truly scary thing about agglutinative languages is the term itself!

And what of Arabic? One of chief reasons it lands in one of the top spots in the “difficulty ranking” is the script, which uses different shapes of letters word-initially, -medially and -finally, but has no letters to record vowels. Another difficulty often listed is the dialectal problem; however, most students of Arabic as a foreign language will be learning Modern Standard Arabic rather than one of the 40 or so colloquial varieties, spoken from Morocco to Egypt, from Syria to Iraq and the Persian/Arabic Gulf. Grammatical difficulties one should be prepared to face include the unfamiliar Verb-Subject-Object order (vs. the English Subject-Verb-Object order), dual number (in addition to the familiar singular and plural), three cases and two genders (which, all in all, should be much easier to learn than the Hungarian or Russian case+gender systems) and multiple verbal forms. A really unusual phenomenon that Arabic shares with Hebrew is its non-concatenative morphology. In a non-concatenative language, unlike in more familiar languages such as English, Spanish or Russian, grammatical meaning -– for example, plural number on nouns or past tense on verbs -– is expressed not through adding a suffix to the nominal or verbal root/stem, but through changing the vowels in the stem. Typically, the consonants are part of the noun or verb root, while vowels -– and where they are placed in relation to the consonants of the root -– constitute the “template” (hence, non-concatenative morphology is also known as “root-and-template morphology”).

Finally, one other language that I found in one of those lists of “difficult to learn languages” — to my great surprise — was Icelandic. It is certainly true that “many Icelandic phonemes don’t have exact English equivalents” — remember the difficulties that many American journalists had with that Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano?! Other perceived difficulties of Icelandic include “its archaic vocabulary” and “complex grammar”. Really? It is true that Icelandic is one of the most conservative North Germanic (i.e., Scandinavian) languages that has kept the old noun declension and verb conjugations, but it is undoubtedly much closer to English and much more similar to it than, say, Chinese, Arabic or Hungarian, which makes it rather easier for an English speaker to learn.

Source: Languages of the World
Author: Asya Pereltsvaig