We analysed over 1,200 international websites and identified 4 common ingredients of successful international multilingual websites.
1. A well-structured website(s)
Get your website structure right from the start and you will reap the rewards down the line. The following are all extremely important from the outset for good search engine visibility in each country:
- The correct domain extension – do you choose a .COM or country code domain such as .CO.UK , .IT and .FR
- One big website or a small site for each country?
- Sub domains or sub-folders for language content?
2. Mother tongue writers
Native mother tongue writers can best catch your audience's attention. They have deep knowledge and understanding of the local market.
You need a native mother tongue speaker to:
- Translate your website.
- Blog on a continual basis.
- Interpret and translate your marketing for the local language and culture. For example, many of the successful marketing campaigns I have seen ì in England would tank in Italy, as local sense of humor and tastes are different (and vice versa).
- Liaise with clients. Do you have someone able to fluently answer calls, email and orders from your new markets.
3. Get a local touch
Providing the same website directly translated just won’t cut it. Each language version of your website will need to have that local touch.
Successful international websites have a team creating local content, local themed marketing and locally-orientated blogs. To see what I’m talking about, compare the regional websites of successful international brands such as IKEA, Starbucks or HSBC - you will see similar websites with subtle differences in graphics, photos and wording.
To be successful in a country you need someone on your team who truly knows the local market, culture, news, influential people and brands. Separate social network accounts in each language run by native speakers are also a must. Nobody will follow you if you continually share content in two or three languages.
4. Be the best
Each country has different market factors. Continual success at home is not necessarily replicated internationally. Track competitors. What are they doing well, are you still competitive?
To succeed you have to be the best. Aim for better search rankings, better website content, better marketing strategy. Run regular offers, promotions and loyalty schemes specific to each country to keep people returning to your website.
Next - getting started with your international website
So there they you are - the 4 key ingredients of a successful international website.
We suggest that you take your time to assess the market you are entering – will you have what it takes to not just be good, but be the best? Once you are ready to go international, make sure you get professional help from a team of multilingual web experts.