The very first thing you need to think about when building a website is your market, obviously. Without catering to your market you won’t get very much traffic and of course, sales will lag as well. This is an especially important focus when building a multinational website because of the sheer cultural differences that will have a significant impact on your global marketing strategies. Perhaps the best way to approach a website that will be catering to a global audience is to find answers to a few key questions. Once you are armed with the answers you can begin creating your web presence, until then, your efforts may be just a waste of time and money.
1. What Countries Are You Trying to Attract?
It is said that before you set up a website you need to thoroughly research and know your market. How is this possible when you are attempting to reach a global audience? The first thing you might want to do is target key audiences around the globe. From there you can look at cultural differences and also count the different languages those markets will be speaking. Try to narrow your reach down to perhaps three to five languages because to do anything else would be too costly in terms of time and money.
2. Are There Significant Cultural Differences between Them?
From an SEO perspective, it helps to understand any cultural difference between markets you are reaching out to. What is acceptable in one market may be totally unacceptable in the next. For example, a sportswear site may market to the UK or the USA with pictures of women in beach wear. We all know that is probably going to include several pictures of shapely models in G-string bikinis. You wouldn’t find content or images acceptable in the Arab world, so better adverts in those areas may be pictures of men in hiking attire or women standing over an open campfire. Targeted use of SEO and images is imperative if you are looking to build a global following.
3. To Google or Not to Google – What about Professional Translations?
Speaking of SEO, this is one field that may require the services of a professional translator if you are going to try to appeal to speakers of most spoken languages. You will also need to know how they would phrase things when using a search function. The key is to use cultural keywords that have similar meanings if no direct translation is available. Should you leave your website in English hoping that visitors will use the ‘translate’ button? It probably wouldn’t be wise to do so simply because Google doesn’t always catch cultural colloquialisms and so SEO would be ineffective and the search function just may yield no results.
4. Can You Effectively Build Just One Site to Serve All?
The final question you may want to ask before building your multinational website is whether you can get away with one site and then depend on Google to translate key pages for you. One of the most effective ways to do this is to let that professional translating service actually translate those key landing pages for you and then link searchers to the language they are speaking. Have you ever seen a site that ends with the forward slash ‘en’ (/en)? That is a good clue that this site has translations in other languages and those translations were most likely professionally done!
If you are seriously reaching out to a global market, ask yourself these key questions. Once you have them answered you are ready to build that site, but not until you have enough information to effectively engage consumers around the world. Want to grow a global presence? This is how you do it!