5 mistakes to avoid when localising your website

Grant Robinson
Falling victim to any one of these 5 basic mistakes when localising international web content can be fatal. Make sure you get things right the first time by paying attention to basic SEO rules and considering your international customers.

If you are considering localising your website, avoid these 5 common mistakes. Localising is the first and most important step on the path to taking your website international. Mistakes in this area can leave your company languishing when business should be booming. Rather than scratching your head and trying to figure out where it all went wrong, get it right from the start. It isn’t as simple as just translating and interpreting text.



Direct translations of keywords don’t necessarily equate to the same marketing impact in other languages. SEO context can vary from country to country. Google bots are extremely fastidious and will skip over keywords if they aren’t relevant in the local language. Do some research to guarantee that the translated word holds the same Google search potency as the English word. Your international audience needs to be carefully considered regarding SEO and keyword use. Direct translations of English into the target language may not convey your company well and ultimately, may not even include effective keywords. When your poorly-translated keywords aren’t readily used by locals, your Google searches are spoiled. Additionally, you may be isolating potential customers by using culturally irrelevant or offensive terminology. Even the simplest translation oversights can direct traffic away from your site. Local knowledge and slang beget attractive nuances to your website and more efficient Google searches therein. Zucchini or aubergine, lorry or truck, elevator or lift, rock melon or cantaloupe, hello or moshi moshi. It’s the finer details that could leave you clueless about why you are clickless.
It isn't as simple as just translating and interpreting text.


Having regional domain suffixes makes it simple for your potential international customers to find your brand. As part of your global expansion plans, local domains need to be sourced and secured. These are called country code top-level domains or “ccTLD,” which identify a website by geographical location, such as .de, .au or .uk (Germany, Australia or the United Kingdom). This is one of the first steps that you should take as it guarantees direct traffic by acquiring country-specific domains. It helps search engines identify and rank your site in the local marketplace, rather than globally with a .com address. Locals automatically identify with domains from their own country, which contributes to a feeling of comfort that attracts targeted international customers to your brand.


They may be inexpensive and easy to install, but machine translators do not add local flavour. You don’t want to alienate native users because you chose a machine over a human. Inconsistencies in grammar and syntax can be confusing for the user and embarrassing for you. Poor translations can skew information, which also jeopardizes the SEO strength of your website. Living, breathing, qualified translators offer an appealing local perspective while retaining the meaning and impact of the original copy. Although this involves higher up-front costs, translators quickly pay for themselves with precise keyword interpretation and SEO relevancy.
Although this involves higher up-front costs, translators quickly pay for themselves with precise keyword interpretation and SEO relevancy.


You have made sure that your copy has the same impact locally as the language in which it was written. Now, you will also need to ensure that the web page layout will be appealing to your target audience as well. Every nationality has its own customs, traditions and idiosyncrasies. Some diligent cultural research can give your website an affable, local attitude. Familiarity creates trust and credibility, which can make or break a purchase decision. Promotions that have local substance will lead to more traffic. Presuming that which works in one country may work equally well in another can be fatal. Social networks, for example, can differ substantially. Facebook may seem ubiquitous in Europe and the English-speaking world, but some countries do not use it at all. China, Russia, Japan and much of Southeast Asia have their own, unique social networks. Finding the predominant social platforms in your target country early on should be one of your first research projects.


Similar rules apply to SEO in every language, including English. Search engine algorithms still operate globally, no matter the dialect. Bots will punish you with a poor rating if you don’t follow some of these simple rules.

  • Don’t plagiarize content
  • Create original content
  • Don’t jam the content with keywords
  • Ensure correct grammar and syntax
  • Only use high-quality content
  • Translate clearly with localisation in mind

Similarly, with marketing, the same questions still need to be asked when approaching every new country.

  • Is your product needed in your target market?
  • Is your product legal in your target country?
  • How many competitors are in the local market?
  • Can you be competitive and profitable?
  • Can you handle the customer service? (time, language and currency differences)

Avoiding these five pitfalls and sticking to the basics are surefire ways to develop an assertive presence in your chosen market.