Since time began and industry crossed borders, the world has slowly become a smaller place with regards to the globalization of business. Over the last 30 years or so, the phenomena of using technology to handle areas such as outsourcing and the siting of manufacturing plants in areas of the world thousands of miles away has grown to the point where business truly is a 24 hour a day operation.
Following fast in the footsteps of the physical side of the globalization of business comes the virtual element. The internet now provides a platform for the buying and selling of anything, at any time, anywhere. Those businesses which have embraced this situation are benefiting in that they are seeing raised sales figures, higher brand awareness and being able to break into markets which would have been nigh impossible in the time before the technology of the net existed. Growth areas such as online recruitment agencies now find they can talk to clients in other countries and find candidates for vacancies within a few hours of it being advertised. This is because of developments in recruitment packages and technology such as cloud based recruitment software from darwin.com.
For those companies who are realizing the potential of being able to market past their own shores, they need to make careful considerations with regards to their current website. It’s not just about promoting products and services through online marketing campaigns in other countries; it’s about having a whole new set up of website tools and content to hand. This in turn needs to be utilized by the marketing teams to reach out to the targeted countries and for those potential customers to be able to access a website which is relevant to them.
Localisation is about ensuring the website is relevant to those who use it – wherever they are in the world. This covers areas such as language, the images used, accessible payment methods and the set- up of some of the pages. As an example, addresses differ around the world and there’s nothing more annoying than trying to order an item which can be sent internationally from a site in the USA and their delivery and billing address form fields will only accept a zip code rather than a postcode and there’s often a mandatory field which requires a State to be selected when you aren’t located there.
Ideally, any newly created website should now be optimized for global use but for those who have an existing site, it’s about making as many changes as possible. The key to a successful international site is localisation – making the pages relevant to the user and ideally this would happen through in-country domains such as .es for Spain or .pt for Portugal and then each sub-site having fully localized and translated content. These would also be fully optimized for the search engines of each particular country.
Whilst English is now almost a global language in business, it’s obviously not spoken by everyone. If you’re starting the building of your site from scratch, web building software such as WordPress can translate your pages for you or you can use Unicode which is a computer language which can ensure uniform representation of script, whatever the language. Be careful if using translation software, many are not particularly accurate.
One factor which Google uses to rank your page is by how many ‘votes’ you have from other sites through natural links and this is where SEO marketers will do their job, but with the sweeping algorithm changes which came about from the Panda and Penguin updates, the goalposts have changed beyond recognition with regards to SEO practices and it’s now quality, not quantity which matters.
The main objectives then when looking at creating an internationally used site are domains, localisation, SEO and language. All are as important as each other and even if you don’t have the budget to stretch for a domain name for each country you are targeting, the most important objective to remember is that localisation equals globalization. Keep this in mind and you’ll be on your way to expanding your business and increasing your sales figures in no time.