Search Engine Optimization for International Companies

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is hard enough as is. Throw in multiple languages and different locales and you’re in for a REAL treat. I’m going to talk to you about SEO for international companies but I’m working on the assumption that you know what SEO is and you have an SEO strategy. If you don’t know what SEO is, check this out: http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo. It’ll give you the basics.

What on Earth is Localization?

Alright, I feel comfortable making the assumption that you know what SEO is but localization is a completely different story. Unless you work in a specific industry like the language services industry, it’s unlikely that you’ve come across this term before. So, let’s dive right in!

Localization involves taking content written for one locale and tailoring it to meet the needs of another.

For Example:

You have an online store that sells, oh I don’t know, custom floor mats for cars. So far, you’re dominating the Canadian floor mat market and you see an opportunity to break into the Japanese market. To carve your niche, you start adding your website to online Japanese floor mat retailer directories.

Six months pass and not a single order has come in from Japan. Time to pack it up, right? Wrong! You need to localize. So, you hire a company to translate all of your text to Japanese and you’re off to the races.

Make Sure You:

• Adjust your website layout to account for an increase/decrease in text. Some languages add up to 40% more characters per body of text

• Update measurements, currency, and date format to fit with local customs

• Update photos to feature places and people that represent your new market’s culture

This is Just the Start…

Translating your text to the language of your market is only the first step in SEO localization. You need to do the exact same things you did for your English website SEO. Let’s review those steps and I’ll explain the localization strategy.

Link Building

You’re going to have to build links that are relevant in your new market. Where does your new market look for your product (directories, blogs, twitter, facebook)? Make sure you’re there and speaking their language. Connect with social media influencers in your target locale.

Keywording

This is where you’re definitely going to need a professional. You can’t just ask someone to translate keywords that are popular in your current location and expect them to be popular in a different country. In Canada, we may search for “social media marketing agencies” but in a different country that string might be useless. The prevailing term for social media marketing in a different country might be “internet advertising companies” in which case you haven’t used any of those words.

I guess this is the perfect time to explain long-tail and short-tail keywords because this will be the most difficult part. In some languages, depending on the context, the form of a word might change (context-sensitive spelling). So a singular keyword planted throughout your content might be useless because people often search using long-tailed strings.

Website Design and Usability

Your website has to reflect the way users navigate your website. Look at other websites in your target locale and find best practices. Where do they prefer the menu? Do they use “bread crumb links” or navigation side bars? Do they mostly share using Facebook or do they use Twitter? Ultimately, sharing your content will help you leaps and bounds so you need to set sharing features up in a way that your target market is most comfortable with.

This is just a taste of what you’re in for when you decide to do SEO localization. If you have any questions visit Abletranslations.com.

For more on international marketing check out:

Translate Tweets to Explode in the Twitterverse (and make more cash online)

or head back to Toronto Translators

5 Random Thoughts about Language

1) What if EVERYONE spoke a different language?

Would we have evolved if there was no shared language? If everyone spoke a different language, I don’t see how society could have formed together under a veil of shared meaning, norms, and morals. Just thinking about the organization of work and the necessary efficiencies, I don’t know that we could have coordinated ourselves in a way that made farming possible let alone the complex tasks of today’s workforce.
…imagine what Facebook would look like?

2) What if EVERYONE spoke the SAME language?

I know, I know, pretty similar to the first question. But, think of the ramifications. Imagine how quickly the world could have evolved if everyone spoke the same language and was able to share ideas right from the start. On the other hand, because language is so closely tied to culture (and vice-versa) would we lose out on all the wonderful things that stem from language diversity?

We would lose awesome phrases such as “Bon Appétit” or “Al Dente”. Basically, nobody would wish us a good meal as we eat our mushy pasta.

3) Why is it fairly easy for humans to define most words but we struggle and debate over the meaning of the word “I”?

Studying sociology, I spent a lot of time in heated debates over the social significance and social definition of “I”. Symbolic interactionists contend that “I” is our internal self that we piece together through our understanding of how other people see us.

Looking Glass Self

What?

“I” isn’t like toaster or car seat. For some reason, we have a hard time grasping something that is so central to our existence. It is a word we just can’t define properly.

4) Why does a word start to sound funny and lose meaning when you say it over and over again?

Not much to say on this one but say the word “tree” 20 times and tell me it doesn’t make you laugh.

5) The mystery of organic palindromes

Do you know what a palindrome is? A palindrome is a word that is spelled the same forward as it is backwards.

Example:
-Race Car
-civic
-Kayak

When I refer to an “organic” palindrome, I’m speaking about a word that has evolved in a natural way not for the purpose of creating a palindrome.

What I wonder is HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE! What are the odds that this could even happen?

I’m astonished.

Video Remote Interpreting Services in Hospitals: Patient Outcomes, Budget Concerns, and Technological Developments

Video Remote Interpreting Services in Hospitals: Patient Outcomes, Budget Concerns, and Technological Developments

Video Remote Interpreting - Doctor Photo

Video Remote Interpreting in Hospitals

The need for high quality interpreters in hospitals is now more pressing than ever. Our society is diversifying at an incremental rate and these citizens have an equal right to proper care. Too often, patients that do not speak the local language are forced to rely on “interpreters of convenience” like relatives and hospital staff or worse, they are left without being able to fully communicate with their physician. Language discordance can increase hospital stay and cause poorer patient care. This can have significant financial ramifications. In order to minimize the effect of language discordance, hospitals need to provide specialized interpreters to their patients. The increased budgetary restraints imposed on public health providers coupled with a paradigm of risk management has made this need even greater. Costs can be cut by providing high quality care to all patients and mitigate the risk associated with miscommunication. The development of cost-effective technologies in the language industry has simplified the once complex and expensive interpreting service delivery.

The Studies

Numerous studies have suggested that language discordance leads to increased costs for the patient and the hospital as well as poorer health outcomes. Specifically, they note that those who do not speak the local language are more likely to: see their physician more often, are less likely to be given follow-up appointments, less likely to return for follow-up appointments, and are less likely to follow aftercare instructions (Bischoff, Loutan:2004; John-Baptiste et al:2004). In the long run this can lead to worse health outcomes and consequently increased strain on an already stressed healthcare system.

Show Me the Money

In monetary terms, one study found that length of stay was increased by an average of 0.5 days for non-English speaking patients in an American hospital. It is important to note that this increase is incremental dependant on the diagnosed condition. With an estimated cost of stay of $680USD per day, the impact of language discordance on hospital and patient budgets can be significant (John-Baptiste et al: 2004).

What We Do Now

From these results, the importance of interpreting in hospitals can be seen but there is a major logistical concern that has to be addressed. In healthcare facilities, immediate service is often required. This need is most often met through on-staff interpreters or non-professionals. On-staff interpreters are a significant budgetary consideration while non-professional interpreters can often compromise proper medical care and expose healthcare providers to liability. The standard for interpreting services currently is over-the-phone. This solution offers scheduling flexibility and on-demand service but it lacks the visual cues that could have a positive impact on diagnoses and, consequently, mortality and length of stay.

What We Should Be Doing

The solution to these concerns is video remote interpreting. Video remote interpreting offers around the clock access to interpreters via a web-based video interface. It works by connecting healthcare professionals and patients with a qualified interpreter through a two-way video interface. This allows visual cues and context to be added to the interpretation thereby increasing the richness of the message conveyed. Additionally, video remote interpreting also offers an efficient way to connect with an American Sign Language interpreter, which of course, requires visual information. Deploying video remote interpreting in hospitals can increase accessibility, quality of care, and patient satisfaction while decreasing the budgetary strain of on-staff interpreters and exposure to risk from non-professional interpretation.

Language interpreting is an integral component of quality care for patients with limited English proficiency. To reduce poor health outcomes, increased length of stay, and consequently, increased budget strain, hospitals should consider using video remote interpreting as a way to compliment their current interpreting service delivery model.

References:
Bischoff, A., Loutan, L. 2004. Interpreting in Swiss Hospitals. Interpreting (6). 181-204

John-Baptiste, A, Naglie, G, Tomlinson, G, Alibhai, S, Etchells, E, Cheung, A, Kapral, M, Gold, W, Abrams, H, Bacchus, M, Krahn, M. 2004. The Effect of English Language Proficiency on Length of Stay and In-hospital Mortality. Journal of General Internal Medicine (19). 221-228

Brand Internationalization Strategy for Small and Mid-sized Companies

Taken from:
http://ezinearticles.com/?Brand-Internationalization-Strategy-for-Small-and-Mid-Sized-Companies&id=7269280

I know I shouldn’t, but I’m going to. After all, I’m a rebel. If you follow the literature on social media, you’ll see that most experts recommend starting online articles with a personal story. But I’m not going to. To be honest, I wracked my brain for a personal story on brand internationalization and finished the day with a blank page. Surprising, right? So, I thought to myself, “Why don’t you just fabricate a story?” And I did. Boy, did it sound disingenuous. Instead, I’m going to approach the subject of brand internationalization from the orientations that I feel most comfortable with, fairy tales and sociology.

A Long, Long Time Ago in a Kingdom, Far, Far Away…

There lived a sociologist, Emile Durkheim, who coined the term “collective consciousness”. Without bombarding you with technical mumbo-jumbo (mumbo-jumbo, being the technical term for boring filler), I’ll skip to the point.

Emile Durkheim suggested that societies are bound together by shared beliefs, values, and attitudes. This was characteristic of groups of people living within a limited proximity. When he coined the term at the end of the 19th century, Durkheim was mainly looking at the beginnings of industrial society, a far cry from the social arrangements that characterize the 2000s.

The Goose That Laid the Global Egg

The internet has blurred borders, both physical and cultural. We live in a global society but because of the spread of information, Durkheim’s perspective still rings true. There are some basic ideas and attitudes that are universal. These universals have become central in brand internationalization.

Enter, the Big Brand Wolf

big brand wolf
He’ll Huff and He’ll Puff and He’ll GROOOOOW Your Brand

Small and mid-sized organizations that haven’t taken steps to internationalize their brand are actually in a position to do so in a more effective way than organizations that have already built up a concrete brand image. You have the luxury of forethought.

Let me explain. There are two major schools of thought when it comes to internationalizing your brand. You can:

a) Re-brand in every market you enter

b) You can choose a universal appeal (remember the global collective conscious?) and make small tweaks in each locale.

Option (B) is cost-effective and efficient at creating a recognizable brand but it involves thinking ahead. You have to decide on a universal value or attitude on which to base your brand before you make your debut on the international stage.

The Seven Dwarves of International Branding

After reviewing your marketing demographics and finding your target market, you’ve got to think a little bit about what makes them tick on a personal level but think big picture. Do they value family? Friendship? Saving money? These are your universals. Your long-term branding strategy should be based on this. The seven dwarves will help you make the brand locally appealing.

Meet the seven dwarves of brand internationalization:

Disney got here first
…Disney got here before you did

Language – this is a given, all marketing material must be distributed in the language of the target market. ’nuff said.

Culture – Get a consultant! Some cultures consider some topics taboo, favor a particular selling environment, or aren’t buying what you’re selling (think winter hats in Morocco)

Graphics – feature local talent, use colors that represent your message (these change by region), and ensure translated text will fit in your logo.

Idioms – For an international message, stay away from English idioms. They don’t translate well.

Content flow – The often forgotten Dwarf. Your text layout should follow local customs.

Software/website – You need to localize your software and website. This means changing the date/time/currency formats/measurements, text field lengths for phone numbers and addresses, as well as everything else that has been mentioned.

Regulations – consult an expert on local regulations. Do they require a specific format on your product labels? Do they have different language and accessibility laws in place? All your work will be for not if you don’t meet local laws.

These points are critical in reaching your target market. You can use a generic marketing message but then you won’t be leveraging your communications.

Live Happily Ever After

Here are the takeaway points:

• Think globally and pick a universally appealing brand value or attitude

• Tweak your message according to cultural nuances and standards

• Avoid generic marketing messages when going international

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7269280

For more on international marketing check out:

Translate Tweets to Explode in the Twitterverse (and make more cash online)

or head back to Toronto Translators

The Difference between Simultaneous Interpreting and Consecutive Interpreting Services

Interpreting comes in two basic forms, simultaneous and consecutive. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. The one you choose is based on the situation in which it will be used but it is also largely personal preference.

Let’s take a look at the difference between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting.

Simultaneous Interpreting

Simultaneous is like the Lamborghini of interpreting. If interpreting was a spaceship, it would be the Millennium Falcon. If it were a couch, it’d be that sweet black leather sectional you saw at the Brick on the weekend. It’s the Big League Chew, Michael Jackson, Coca-Cola, Peanut butter and jelly sandwich of interpreting.
That's right, I referenced Big League Chew
But…I digress.

Simultaneous interpreting involves converting your message into a different language in real-time. A team of interpreters, in special sound booths, hear you speak through headphones and immediately deliver your words in another language to audience members with headsets. This allows you to speak freely and at a natural pace.

Essentially, the process works like this. The speaker will get a few words into his sentence and then the interpreter will start interpreting with a small lag. As the speaker orates, the interpreter listens and speaks at the same time, converting one language into the other.
The amount of mental energy and concentration these interpreters have is, to completely understate it, magnificent. To give you an idea of how mentally taxing simultaneous interpreting is for the interpreters, they generally switch on-and-off every 20 minutes or so.

Consecutive Interpreting

Consecutive interpreting is like the all-terrain-vehicle of interpreting. The setup isn’t nearly as extensive as simultaneous interpreting but it allows for a conversational approach to interpreting.

Consecutive interpreting is as awesome as a Batmobile ATV
Simultaneous interpreting is generally done at conferences when the exchange of information is one-way whereas consecutive interpreting can easily allow two or more people to converse.

Consecutive interpreting has you speaking first, pausing, and then the interpreter interprets. Essentially, your speech or conversation would be divided into chunks, usually by idea, and then delivered by the interpreter.

Which One Should You Choose?

Simultaneous is great for large events and conferences. It allows the speaker to orate naturally, giving a more candid feel to the presentation. With the addition of multiple sound booths, a speech could be interpreted into many different languages to accommodate a highly diverse audience.
Consecutive interpreting is great for business meetings, court hearings, grass roots meetings, and other conversational situations.

visit Able Translations to learn more about Interpreting.

Man Vs Machine…Translation

Welcome to the Ring

In the red corner, standing 5’8” and weighing in at 165lbs. He types 80 words per minute and speaks three languages. He has remained undefeated for HUNDREDS and hundreds of years. I give you…THE HUMAN TRANSLATOR.

And in the blue corner, standing…well…it doesn’t really stand and weighing…um does computer code weigh anything? It can translate a document of any size into any language in seconds. He’s the newest challenger in the industry but seems to be unstoppable. Here is…MACHINE TRANSLATION.

The Blow by Blow

Human translation and machine translation both have their strengths and weaknesses and their usefulness depends on context. Let’s take a look at what makes both translation strategies unique and explore some of their benefits and drawbacks.

The Human Translator

The human translator is exactly what it sounds like, a human doing the translating. Now, keep in mind, we aren’t talking a pen and paper process here. Technology does play a huge role in human translating. Aside from word processing, projects tend to use project management workflow software to keep everything on track. Human translators can also use what is known as “translation memory management” systems. Essentially, this is a database that stores translatable “units” (sentences, headings, even paragraphs of text). It helps a project with more than one translator become one cohesive output. This software is especially popular with very technical translations (think machine operating manuals). You need to have processes, instructions, or machine parts defined in the same way. Translation memory helps you do that.

Benefits:

  • Human translators strike a balance between the words you use and the ideas you are trying to get across. This leaves you with a cohesive, error free project
  • Human translators are bound by significant quality standards thus your project is handled very carefully
  • Human translators can verify information and give recommendations to improve your project

 

Drawbacks:

  • Human translators are not available for free download
  • Their output isn’t instantaneous
  • They consume all of the coffee in the office

 

Human translators should be consulted when handling large, complex projects that require high quality translations (ecommerce websites, marketing material, software localization, books and ebooks, movie subtitles, etc).

 

Machine Translation

Google has done a superb job in their creation of machine translation software. They provide near instant translations, regardless of word count. Their algorithms have improved significantly since their beta-launch. Machine translation approaches a document from a word-for-word point of view. It looks at individual units of language, not the totality of meaning, sometimes with hilarious results.

Benefits:

  • Extremely fast
  • Extremely inexpensive (often free)
  • Near endless options for language availability
  • Conveniently available from any computer

 

Drawbacks:

  • Will not contextualize the translation, which often leads to some pretty funny translation errors
  • Will not proofread. If you’ve made a mistake, it will translate it anyways
  • Some English phrases and idioms cannot be translated with the same meaning, machine translation doesn’t notice.

 

As you can see, machine translation software is pretty awesome if you need to quickly translate something. Say, if you’re emailing your Korean pen pal or your Romanian grandmother sent you your favorite recipe (at least that’s what you think it is…). But because it can’t contextualize your words and it won’t alert you to an error if your thoughts won’t be expressed as intended, you should avoid using machine translation on projects associated with your business or organization. It’s risky. Some companies have had PR nightmares from poor translations.

 

IT’S A TOTAL KNOCKOUT!

The human translator retains its title. Well, maybe I fixed the match but I truly believe there is no replacement for human translation.

 

Visit us for information on translation services.

For more on international marketing check out:

Translate Tweets to Explode in the Twitterverse (and make more cash online)

or head back to Toronto Translators

Dogs, Widgets, and Internationalizing Your Brand

Advertising boils down to basic sociology. Of course there are external factors that can change the behavior of consumers, but at the core, society functions on the idea of shared meaning. Shared meaning, or consensus, is at the root of communication. For example, if I type the word dog, in most instances, everyone will picture the same thing.

Well, wait a second, if I said “dog” to a non-English speaker, would they picture the same thing? Perhaps not…but I’ll come back to this later because it’s important.

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, shared meaning. I’ll give you another example. Carl Jung’s work centered on the idea of archetypes. Essentially, he spoke about universal symbols and experiences. These symbols and ideas are recognizable to most people.

They aren’t part of the Jungian archetypes, but I’ll give you an idea of some universal symbols and ideas. Ready? Here are a few to get you thinking: Family, friendship, love, sadness, good and evil, and life and death.

(You might be asking how this fits into brand internationalization. I’m getting there, I promise.)

Let’s revisit my point about the dog. The word “dog” might be meaningless to a non-English speaker but most people would recognize a dog if they saw one. The qualities attributed to the dog might also be different. I think of loyalty, friendship, and family but you might think smelly, dirty, and unruly (my dog storm is a combination of all of those). So depending on your perspective, a dog might mean different things.

The Point

You have two options when internationalizing your brand. You can either create a new brand image in every market OR you can create an international brand identity and make small changes to your graphics, idioms, and language. The second option is not only more efficient at creating a strong brand but it’s also more cost-effective. You won’t have to re-brand in every market.

Basically, you need your brand to be based on a universal but make tweaks to the dog. Confused? Let me clear things up with an example:

Widgets and Doohickeys Canada wants to internationalize their brand. Looking at their sales demographics, they see that their widgets and doohickeys are bought by married couples with two or more children. Naturally, they decide to base their international brand image on the universal idea of family. So, they create their Canadian advertising. It shows a family skating together during a snowy Canadian winter.

The caption reads: “Keeping Families Warm When It’s Cold Outside”.

A great Canadian piece of adverting that absolutely won’t be effective in Puerto Rico.

Widgets and Doohickeys want to keep that “family” message; it symbolizes what their brand is all about. So, they make tweaks. They change the language, the graphic, and the idiomatic expression to suit the tastes of those in Puerto Rico and how they view family togetherness.

With this method, they are cultivating an international brand image using the universal notion of family but are making adjustments for cultural perceptions of what family means.

The Role of the Language Services Provider

Language Services Providers offer what is known as localization. We work with your universal appeal but target it to the tastes of different cultures. This might mean adjusting graphics to give it local appeal, changing colors to those that a culture associates with your main message, arranging typesetting and content flow to appeal to cultural standards, and translating your message to engage your target audience.

The goal is to maintain your global brand image while also carving a niche in a local market. Taking this approach ensures that you avoid a generic marketing message. This helps you leverage your communication efforts and differentiates your product from local offerings.

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Cost More Important Than Quality, Says the Translation Bureau

I was reading the Benchmarking and Comparative Analysis report which was released by the Translation Bureau and a quote caught my attention:

“With some exceptions such as certified or legal documents, quality is not considered as important to clients as cost”.
The Translation Bureau – Benchmarking and Comparative Analysis (2012)

Before delving into what this quote means to translation businesses, I want to explain the “fast, cheap, good” pricing strategy and how it fits into an overall consumer strategy for buying and a company strategy for pricing. This pricing method has been a mainstay in business for decades. Here is a quick rundown:
Essentially, a customer can pick two of three of these qualities when purchasing a product or service: fast, cheap, good”.

• If you want it fast and cheap, it won’t be good
• If you want it cheap and good, it won’t be fast
• If you want it fast and good, it won’t be cheap

In the market in general, we’re seeing a shift in consumer behavior. In my opinion, quality has become assumed and companies are left to compete on price and speed. This isn’t a problem in highly regulated industries but I think it spells disaster for consumers when purchasing services from industries that aren’t required to adhere to national and international standards.

For the translation industry, this purchasing strategy (cheap>quality) is dangerous. With the high availability of machine translation software, consumers may run the risk of improper translations from companies that choose to neglect quality in favor of price and speed.

In our industry, consumers should focus not on cost, but on return-on-investment. If you follow the news, we’re seeing countries spending exorbitant amounts of money correcting poor translations on public signage. What was cheap is no longer. In other areas, just as an example, a poorly translated website may be less costly initially but errors in translation can lead to fewer conversions in international markets. You may even end up offending someone because of differences in cultural context. Before deciding on a company purely from a cost-perspective, at least ensure they adhere to third-party standards. Price is important but quality translations are critical to your organization in the long run.

To my readers, are you finding this in your industries? What effect do you think this has had on your pricing strategy? I’m interested to know.

For More Information on This subject visit Able Translations atTranslations Toronto