Unlock global growth with website globalization

Discover how website globalization can transform your business and unlock new opportunities for growth in the global marketplace. Explore strategies to effectively expand your online presence and reach international audiences.


Businesses are increasingly recognizing the global potential of their market reach. Global websites make it possible for them to connect with customers across borders and cultures.

In fact, research indicates that an overwhelming 90% of web users prefer browsing a website in their native language when given the option.

A well-executed global website can engage with audiences across cultures and multiple languages, leading to increased revenue streams and a solid global presence.

In this post, we'll cover in detail how website globalization can be a catalyst for international business growth, as well as strategic considerations for businesses looking to effectively globalize their online presence.

Website globalization vs. localization

Website globalization lays the groundwork for international accessibility.

To successfully take your website global, you need a flexible website architecture, as well as a content management system that can support multiple languages and cultural variations. To make this possible, the early parts of the globalization process handle technical details like separating text from code and implementing internationalization (i18n) best practices.

However, globalization isn’t all technical. Localization, a subcategory of globalization, takes translation a step further by adapting a website's content, design, and functionality for a specific region and target market. This often calls for adjusting imagery, colors, date and time formats, currency symbols, and even the overall tone and messaging to align with local cultural norms and expectations.

For example, while red signifies luck and prosperity in China, it symbolizes danger in Western cultures. A localized website would take these cultural nuances into consideration and adjust design elements accordingly to avoid misinterpretation.

In any case, both globalization and localization have an important role in shaping a business’s offerings for new markets. Check out our detailed blog to unpack more differences between localization and globalization.

Overcoming website globalization challenges

Over 50% of all website content today is in English. There is a high demand for localized content in other languages, especially for non-English native speakers. Because of this, website globalization is a prime gateway to international expansion.

However, creating a global website is not without its challenges. There are several technical challenges to overcome first, such as a dependency on multilingual developers to build a website structure that supports globalization efforts. Other challenges include cultural and legal implications like complying with local laws and regulations and ensuring that translations are culturally accurate for a specific market.

Investing in a multilingual content management system is also crucial to ensure seamless localization workflows. Without the right tools, the time and cost of maintaining a global website can be high. However, deploying the right content globalization technology sets you up for success with a scalable architecture for your website and content so you can easily manage different languages and media.

Components of a website globalization strategy

Let’s get into some tried-and-true ways to construct a successful website globalization strategy:

1. Strategic planning and market research

Start by creating strategic goals and focus on how a global website will help you achieve those goals. Consider factors like your product or service’s adaptability to different target markets, pricing, timeline, budget, and the technology you need.

Analyze potential revenue expansion and prioritize markets based on demand and localization opportunities. Once you know which target markets you're going after, conduct in-depth research to understand local customer preferences, cultural nuances, and language requirements.

2. Website structure

When expanding your business globally, it is crucial to consider your website’s infrastructure from the start. You can use subdirectories, subdomains, or location-specific domains, depending on your international marketing strategy.

For example, Semrush uses country-specific subdomains for its global website content. This is what its German webpage looks like: SEMRush website in GermanSemrush’s German website (Source)

Additionally, consider your website code and architecture’s technical aspects. They have to be able to support multilingual content and localization efforts seamlessly.

3. Content creation and translation

When planning for localization at scale, it's crucial to integrate translation and localization considerations into your content development process from the start. This ensures that your content can flexibly adapt to different languages and cultures. As you create new content, keep localization in mind and structure it accordingly.

When developing new content, take pointers from your market research results to ensure that content resonates with different audiences and is culturally relevant. For example, if your target audience has indicated a preference for video content over text, create more localized videos for that market.

4. User engagement

Prioritizing user engagement is critical for website globalization. After all, the goal of going global is to make your content and services accessible and relevant to users around the world. Accomplishing this requires more than just translating content.

You have to provide a seamless and intuitive experience for each of your target markets. This means adapting your website’s design, layout, and functionality to align with local cultural norms and preferences—not to mention things like date and time formats, currencies, color schemes, and imagery. These can significantly impact how users interact with your website.

For instance, the United States commonly uses the imperial unit system, but most of mainland Europe and South America use the metric system. You’ll need to be aware of these kinds of regional differences to craft a truly localized experience for your audience.

Key considerations for globalizing your website

Achieving website globalization at scale is a massive feat that requires consistent effort from multiple stakeholders. To successfully achieve this, keep these key points in mind:

Create your localization strategy and roadmap

Before diving into globalization, define clear goals for your website's international expansion. Consider factors like user demographics and revenue potential in different markets. You can also use existing data and analytics to identify regions with high engagement but low conversion rates, which indicate opportunities for localization.

Develop a comprehensive go-to-market plan for each target language and market and align it with your business objectives to drive meaningful results. Keeping your business outlook at the forefront will help you achieve the results you want.

Head to our guide to learn 10 tips for crafting a successful localization strategy.

Centralize, integrate, and automate

As you scale your globalization strategy, best practices will become increasingly difficult to implement. Because of this, it's important to set a strong foundation early on in your website globalization efforts to avoid accumulating operational debt in the future.

In a roundtable at Smartling’s 2023 Global Ready Conference, Ella Petlicka, senior internationalization program manager of websites at Pinterest, shared a framework for scaling globalization effectively:

“It starts with three things—centralization, integration, and automation,” says Ella. “You'll want to centralize your localization operations, ideally within one [translation management system (TMS)]. […] You want to integrate as many content ecosystems within that TMS to make sure that your operations run smoothly, flawlessly—and then, as much as possible, you'll want to automate as well to make sure that your processing time is shorter.”

Smartling’s TMS provides a centralized repository for your translations, as well as a powerful admin suite to control every step of the process.

Implement SEO practices

Simply translating content isn’t enough to boost search engine visibility. While it's a good start, direct translations don’t guarantee search engine rankings within different countries or regions.

People in different places often use different keywords and phrases when searching for content. Additionally, search engines may not rank your pages highly if they don’t provide unique and relevant content for a particular locale.

Let’s take McDonald’s website, for example. To appeal to its French audience seeking petit-déjeuner (breakfast), the company optimized its website for search engine optimization (SEO) rankings: McDonalds breakfast menu in FrenchMcDonald's French SEO page (Source)

To maximize your website's visibility in each target market, tailor your international SEO strategy to that country or region. Conduct keyword research to understand your potential customers’ search keywords and ensure that your content matches what they’re looking for.

However, there’s much more to international SEO. Check out our comprehensive guide for a detailed list of best practices for SEO and localization.

Leverage translation technology and specialized tools

It's vital to choose scalable translation technology to improve localization efficiency. A translation management tool facilitates accurate translations from both internal and external translators.

Choose a platform that can quickly and efficiently translate large volumes of text without compromising quality. Additionally, the platform you choose should be able to accommodate different languages and support global content delivery.

Smartling's robust translation platform provides both the infrastructure you need to scale your globalization efforts and tailored translation services to help you meet each market's needs. Additionally, we work with native-speaking local translators to ensure that your translations are authentic and strike a chord with the target audience.

Globalization pitfalls to steer clear of

Many companies often fail to consider several key factors when globalizing their website. Below are some pitfalls you should avoid:

Don’t forget to enable cross-functional teams

Website globalization is multifaceted—it involves adapting several multimedia assets, which is already a lot to handle. Besides that, it requires communication between many different teams, from sales and marketing to customer success and customer support.

It’s up to you to ensure that localization is a core consideration for all these cross-functional stakeholders, not an afterthought.

“Localization teams typically [are] not as big. [...] We’re [working with] so many cross-functional teams,” shares Yoko Suzuki, director of globalization at DocuSign, in a discussion with Smartling at the 2023 Global Ready Conference. “So our job also is to make sure we enable cross-functional teams and make sure that localization is part of all processes end-to-end.”

Yoko advises localization teams to champion this approach and maintain these processes once established. Regular cross-functional communication and team updates are essential.

Avoid the one-size-fits-all approach

With global website content, one size certainly doesn't fit all. Each of your target markets requires a different approach and hyper-localized content.

The best way to get a globalized website right is to work with locals and native speakers. They’ll know the target audience’s cultural nuances, idioms, and customs so you don't accidentally offend or confuse potential customers.

Find a translation platform that provides access to high-speed translation services and delivers a native experience in every market.

Maintain consistent globalization

Website globalization has a broad scope, especially if you're working with multiple languages and target markets. Starting small is perfectly okay, but you should also ensure that you make consistent progress throughout the website globalization process.

You'll need to perform ongoing maintenance on your global website. Additionally, you should localize any future content, products, or services you launch.

In our guide to website localization, we cover how to prep your website for localization and ensure continuous localization.

Success story: How Yext achieved website globalization

Yext, a company that helps businesses improve their search experience, is a real-world example of successful international business expansion. This is their story.

Yext initially struggled when launching in Japan because its direct translations did not resonate with the Japanese market and did not fit the local context and culture.

Yext worked closely with Smartling, not only to translate its content but to ensure that its translations accurately conveyed its brand and messaging for the Japanese market. This involved collaboration between marketing and sales teams and translators.

The impact? Using Smartling, Yext greatly increased its translation volume and expanded into new languages. The correction rate decreased to only 0.17% for Japanese strings, along with an 87% reduction in words that required editing.

Want to know more about Yext’s journey with Smartling? Read the full case study.

Leveraging Smartling for effective website globalization

Balancing translation speed, quality, and cost is critical for successful website globalization. That's why choosing the right translation partner is paramount.

Smartling's end-to-end website globalization service can help you seamlessly translate and adapt your website for multiple languages and cultures. Its TMS also allows you to centralize all your translations, manage the translation process, and ensure brand consistency across markets. Smartling’s Global Delivery Network (GDN) is a powerful translation proxy that can quickly and cost-effectively deploy your localized website content without extensive IT involvement. The GDN can automatically ingest your website content, translate it using human or machine translation, and instantly deliver localized versions to your customers.

Additionally, Smartling provides a suite of language services, including transcreation, specialized translation, and localization testing, to ensure that your content resonates with local audiences. Smartling’s team of 100% native-speaking translators can help you produce high-quality, on-brand translations.

Unlock exponential growth by globalizing your website with Smartling's expert solutions—book a meeting now.