Local seo e50da72
Miriam Ellis

5 Trends in Content Localization + 1 to Keep an Eye On

The author's views are entirely their own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Edited by Emilie Martin

Content localization is the practice of tailoring both online and offline assets to appeal to different audiences. These audiences may differ in location, culture, or linguistics. Multinational brands must invest in research and outreach in an effort to engage the interest of distinct groups.

Today, we’ll look at some real-world examples of how large businesses are localizing their content, and you’ll find some actionable tips and tools to help your brand. We’ll also look at how anti-trust regulations may be altering the SERPs your customers are seeing around the world.

1. Immediate localized home page signals

Patagonia's US-based home page

Here is the above-the-fold display on the home page of the global outdoor outfitter, Patagonia, that North American users see. Unsurprisingly, it focuses on new products in stock and shows a person engaged in what appears to be an extreme sport, dangling from a rope over rapids. Extremeness has been an observable trend in US advertising for the past two decades. Our coffee, our pizza, and even walks with our pets are routinely marketed as being better if they offer an extreme experience instead of just a normal one. This home page header banner from Patagonia is reflective of current trends in advertising to North American consumers.

But if we enter the Patagonia experience as a European consumer, we get quite a different message:

Patagonia's European-based home page

According to the Environmental Performance Index, the 23 countries with the best environmental performance are all either in Europe or culturally/politically linked to Europe. By contrast, the US is only 43rd in this index, and Canada is 49th. Thus, it makes sense that the first thing European consumers see on Patagonia’s home page is a plea for collective help with an environmental cause rather than the imagery of a lone sportsperson enjoying themselves or a message about things to buy. The content has been localized from the start to connect with what the business feels its audience prioritizes.

2. Video Translation

According to Statista, online videos have a global reach of 92%, but for your content to resonate with audiences in different linguistic groups, they need to be able to understand it. Thus, there is a surge in demand for video translation services. Early adopters like MrBeast and Squid Game are embracing multi-lingual YouTube video dubbing settings because it is much easier to edit audio on a single video than to run multiple different YouTube channels. In fact, some content creators are retroactively dubbing their older YouTube video content to create a seamless experience for viewers they’ve earned from different countries.

It’s also important to remember that multilingual translation isn’t the sole province of multinational brands. I’m lucky enough to live in a state where nearly half the population speaks another language than English at home, with Spanish being the predominant second language here. Over a couple of decades, it’s become a matter of course for large businesses to have bilingual staff and signage in California, and it’s also a very smart marketing move to offer a Spanish-language version of website content to maximize reach.

If your state, region, or country is so fortunate as to have sizable multilingual groups, translating all of your main content, including your video content, could give you an excellent competitive edge.

3. Holiday localization

An image of various different sized candles alight

SEOs and marketers are definitely tapping into the fact that while sales events like Black Friday have been adopted in at least a couple of dozen countries, one of the great riches of our world is the diversity of holiday celebrations. If your organization crafts candles, you’ll need to know the difference between the dates of observances like Catholic Advent, Eastern Orthodox Christmas, the eight nights of Hanukkah, Diwali, or Shangyuan to be sure you’ve got your special offers ready for customers in advance of their festivities.

Even when events share a calendar date, they may go by different names in different lands, meaning your supermarket’s Mardi Gras sale in New Orleans must be reworked into your Pancake Tuesday discount in England. TimeandDate keeps an updated database of occasions that can be sorted by both country and holiday to help you plan your promotional year in keeping with different customs around the world.

4. Getting fine details right

Miriam Ellis's fine art website offering dimensions in both centimeters and inches

If you’re going to sell globally, you must customize your weights and measurements to match each country in which you’re marketing. I’ve had customers go out of their way to DM me with thanks for the fact that I’ve included centimeter measurements of the art prints I sell worldwide instead of just inches. The Worldwide Metric Calculator can help you do the calculations so your customers don’t have to leave your site to figure them out.

By the same token, are your customers looking for a “cozy RV” or a “cosy caravan” rental for their “vacation” or “holiday”? Are your biscuits awesome with gravy in the US or class with a cup of tea in Ireland? Spellings, superlatives, and terminology differ greatly across all English-speaking regions of the world, not to mention the rainbow of cultural variants throughout all the nations of the world and all the different languages. Getting the fine details of these nuances right can make the difference between your assets feeling strange or familiar to each particular audience. Moz Keyword Explorer can help you assess search language variants in different English-speaking regions.

5. Product tailoring

Multinational fast food chains are one of the best-known examples of recognizing that product menus may sometimes have to change significantly to serve distinct audiences. The above video is just a short run-through of the same business selling smokehouse burgers, kofta, paneer, and rice bowls in an effort to appeal to people in a variety of places. I can’t personally judge the validity of these representations, but what I can see is that, in such cases, you don’t merely localize your content but the products on which your content is founded.

Sometimes, even the branding of businesses is different around the world; what we call Burger King in America is Hungry Jack’s in Australia, Lays potato chips here are Sabritas in Mexico, and DiGiorno frozen pizza is familiar in the US, but Canada knows it as Delissio.

Tales of product tailoring failures often become famous, likely because some of them may seem humorous from a distance, but cultural sensitivity should always be taken seriously. If a brand you are marketing is on its way to becoming a large global seller, the best insurance against reputation damage and revenue loss as a result of cultural insensitivity is to employ regional and cultural experts whose first-hand and lived experiences can steward the organization in acting with awareness and respect.

+1 Content localization tip

A comparison of the EU local SERP versus the US local SERP

Image credit: Mike Blumenthal

As an American, it’s my impression that countries associated with Europe have taken a much stronger stance than my own nation on almost every aspect of the internet, from privacy to security to antitrust. As a result of this, multinational brands must conform to different sets of rules and regulations for each region in which they operate. But today, I want to specifically draw attention to the research that is being done by NearMedia on how European SERPs are diverging from American ones as an apparent result of significantly different antitrust stances. The emerging results are so distinct that Near Media has published 'New elements of Google local search results in Europe: A visual glossary' to guide brands through the changes.

If your global brand has physical premises and face-to-face interactions with customers, a new item to add to your to-do list is to study how Google changes its SERPs to accord with varying regulations. What this means for content localizations is that the type of content you produce and the platforms on which you need most visibility may need to be customized for different markets more than formerly. What may be a nearly invisible local business directory in the US could be a top SERP feature in France, Sweden, or Spain. If you need to do your research remotely and your brand is US-based, investing in a product like NordVPN may be necessary to help you emulate the different Google search experiences your potential customers are having in different lands.

Summing up cultural fluency

Content localization tends to boil down to embedding cultural fluency into your customer service strategy. You want to provide a comfortable experience for each audience so that they become convinced that your brand is ready to meet their needs. For multinational enterprises, this experience starts with home page signals and extends to multimedia linguistic translation, holiday localization, fine-tuning product specs like weights and measures, sometimes tailoring your inventory to reflect local demand, and increasingly, studying diverging SERPs to understand how your audience is now experiencing search in different parts of the world.

The underlying foundation of content localization should be a respect for all cultural and linguistic groups and a sincere desire to serve them well.

About Miriam Ellis —

Miriam Ellis is the Local SEO Subject Matter Expert at Moz and has been cited among the top five most prolific women writers in the SEO industry. She is a consultant, columnist, local business advocate, and an award-winning fine artist.

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