Global vs Local Content
As the Internet has enabled businesses to trade from all corners of the world, the focus for digital marketers is to have a content strategy that not only recognises where the users are accessing the website from [thanks to geo-ip] but to also provide the content about products and services in the languages that users naturally communicate in.
In a major way, this is revolutionary. Users do not have to know English any more to be able to access, peruse, consume and convert via website content.
In fact, it is almost expected – courtesy of the “Hreflang” tag – that websites aiming to convert global users into leads as well as purchases – should have their content published in multiple languages.
By having the right coding in place, Google can then offer to translate the content from the original language it is in on the website to the native or local language available based on the user’s location.
This does not reduce the importance of using English for website content and if businesses choose to widen their target audience bases from local to global, then having content in English is the way to go forward.
Why localise website content?
As a digital content marketer, during the past year, I have spent a considerable amount of time conducting extensive website content audits on several websites, some in English and some in European languages.
I did not have to know any of the European languages in order to understand the content on the websites! Thanks to Google Translate, which automatically offered to translate the content from the language to English, as it could tell from my IP address where I was based.
Now, I am aware that the quality of the translations that this free service provides is not always the best and one can only assume and hope that the boffins at Google HQ are working to improve this.
But that’s besides the point that I’m trying to make here.
What I find fascinating is how the experience is so seamless!
Every language reflects the local culture, customs and conventions of a country and to be able to access, consume and convert through content that is available in different languages empowers digital marketing, as a revenue channel, significantly.
Well, it removes the need for users to mentally interpret the content from English to their native language and thereby move straight on to experiencing the website for what it is immediately.
The risk of user reluctance towards this subliminal, subconscious act of translating from English to their own language is effectively eliminated when they opt for the website content to be digitally translated.
Therefore, it is important for businesses to not only have a device-responsive website that usher users through the marketing funnel with engaging and converting content, but also for the very content itself to be set up for localisation.
Like all processes, there should be some form of terminology for this process of a business website of targeting global and local audiences alike.
Lo behold there is – Glocalization: the practice of conducting business according to both local and global considerations.
I had first come across it back in 2011 when I was co-authoring a guidebook called: Improve Your Global Business English: The Essential Toolkit for Writing and Communicating across Borders (Kogan Page, 2012)
Be sure to have a look in Chapter 12 “Personal and Company Promotion in a Digital Age” where there are a couple of case study examples on how global brands vary their use of English on their different market websites to engage their audiences more relevantly.
In essence, glocalization is about balancing your website content with what is relevant, interesting and engaging for your local and international target audiences respectively.
Whether your target audience is B2B or B2C, local or global, there are going to be differences in word usage, tonality, content purpose, depth and expression and you need to be able to ensure that all this is reflected when your website is presented through translations.
Most global brands have multiple websites to serve and convert different target audiences with content that is relevant and specific to their locations.
However, there are many other businesses that generate revenue through digital marketing via one website targeting local and global audiences.
Tips to optimise your website content for global and local audiences
Chances are, you are looking to create or optimise your website content to help it attract visitors both locally and globally.
In my experience, here’s what you could do:
Tip 1: Create geographically neutral content
The one thing that you don’t want to do is risk alienating or isolating your users under ‘local’ and ‘global’ labels. Yes, users want to feel exclusive but not labelled. My suggestion would be to have some pages that have content that caters to both local and global audiences (e.g. the homepage, your core service pages and perhaps have a main contact form).
Tip 2: Optimise your navigation menus
Split your main navigation menu into distinct sections to which users could easily and quickly go to that offer them what they are looking for. While this could split could be on a product/ service offering basis, you could have a section within the page that has relevant H2s with geographical keywords. For instance, “Worldwide delivery” or “Are you an international customer? We can help!”
You could have a separate section within your navigation menu that links to a page that has a suitable H1, such as “International customers”, or “From [your country] to the World” and ensure the page contains content that appeals to global users, preferably written in English, or else enable geo-ip for the content to be translated by search engine bots. Be sure to also include postal and email addresses, telephone numbers and Call to Action buttons or in-page contact forms.
If you think you will need help with creating the content in English, hire a professional writer to ensure translatable accuracy and high quality. If you would like my assistance, please click here.
Tip 3: Use the right tone and wording
As I mentioned earlier, depending on whether your audience is B2B or B2C, local or international, your content needs to reflect the appropriate purpose, tone, style and depth so that users are engaged enough to convert into leads or customers.
The content must also make sense when it is translated by the search engine bots so that it does not put users off. I would suggest testing the content using Google Translate first to see what it comes up with and then tweak it accordingly in your website staging environments before you publish the pages on to your live website.
Keep your content ‘glocal’
The internet is continually bringing us more and more opportunities to work with people from all over the world.
Gone are the days where businesses would think about whether they should have a website (or some form of web presence) or not.
Digital technologies are transforming the world we live in and having responsive, engaging, geographically relevant, localised content that converts is crucial.
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