Why website localization is more than translation

website localization

What is website localization?

Website localization is the process of adapting a website according to the language, culture and preferences of the customer. In other words, it consists of adapting all elements of the website for local or regional consumption. These elements include text, images, links and formatting.

Website localization vs Website translation

Basically, website localization is a more complex process that encompasses website translation. On the one hand, website translation consists of translating the text from one language to another. On the other hand, website localization consists of translating the website as well as adapting other elements to the target culture. Among other things, website localization includes:

  • Website translation
  • SEO translation (alt tag, meta tag, meta description, slug, etc.)
  • adaptation of images, icons, colors and fonts
  • localization of hyperlinks (hyperlinks in the same translated language)
  • use of specific dialects
  • linguistic, cultural and functional adaptation
  • modifications to contact details, addresses, time and date formats
  • and much more…

Thus, we can say that website translation is part of the website localization process. Therefore, website localization is a more specialized service focused on customer experience.

Website localization + SEO translation

An important aspect of web localization is SEO translation. In this regard, an expert content localizer can help you optimize your SEO to climb the Google ranking. To achieve this, the website localizer will take into account the following.


These are words or even important phrases in the text. They are the words that the customer uses to search on Google. Basically, Google requires the keywords to be found in:

  • Title and subtitles (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
  • Slug / URL
  • Metadescription
  • Alt tags
  • First 100 words of each page
  • Last 100 words of each page

Google also positions better the keywords that are at the beginning of the title and at the beginning of the first paragraph. In addition, different synonyms and keywords must be used or else Google will believe that the content is duplicated.

The content localizer will apply these SEO best practices, making sure the text sounds natural and not using too many keywords to avoid being penalized by Google. In addition, the translator can use CAT tools to create glossaries with the keywords and create character limitations. This helps to save time in translation and to respect title and meta description length limit.

This can also be very useful in cases where the target language is larger than the source language. For example, website translations from English to Spanish.

Inbound & outbound links

Inbound links are links that go to your website. Outbound links are links that go to other external websites. You should include at least 2 links of each type to improve SEO. In addition, they should point to reliable and interesting sources. This captures the attention of the public as well as giving more reliability to your site by offering supported information.

When it comes to website localization, inbound and outbound links must be in the same language as the text. A translator specialized in localization can help you localize your website’s hyperlinks, making sure they are reliable.

Cultural adaptation

As mentioned above, website localization involves linguistic, cultural and functional adaptation. Therefore, we could say that linguistic adaptation is the translation of the website. Functional adaptation is the SEO translation that aims to improve the ranking in Google and have the same effect on the client. And finally, cultural adaptation is the process of transcreation and modification of extratextual elements.

In this sense, cultural adaptation in website localization includes:

  • Idiomatic expressions. Idioms and jargons are specific to each country. They cannot be translated literally as this would cause comprehension problems.
  • Colors. For example, in China, white or yellow is used for funerals, while most countries use black.
  • Beliefs and values. In some cultures women must cover their hair, so it would be offensive to include images of bare-headed women in such cases.
  • Holidays. Special dates are a great marketing opportunity, but it should be noted that they differ from culture to culture. An example of this is Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated in many countries such as the United States or France but not in Colombia. If you want to localize a product or service for this holiday, it would be better to do it for the Day of Love and Friendship in September, which is the equivalent of Valentine’s Day in Colombia.

Get expert help

Get expert help in translating or localizing your website from our native speaking translators. We know that web localization involves much more than translating a text. It involves a cultural localization effort to ensure market validation. Enlisting the help of a localization expert will increase your chances of success in the international marketplace. Our translators have extensive experience in SEO translation, transcreation and web development.

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