The internet is going through a transition phase right now – one that’s going to change the way people use the web on a daily basis. This is going to affect every online business and adapting to the change effectively will make or break a lot of brands during the transition process.
Web localisation will play a big role in this for any brand with international markets but the nature of website localisation is also going to change. Today we’re looking at five technology trends that are changing the way we approach localising for the web.
A) The rise of personal assistants
Apple has Siri, Google has Google Assistant and just about all the tech giants have their own AI-powered personal assistant apps. There’s Facebook M, Microsoft’s Cortana, Alexa and countless others. This is the direction the web is headed and we’ll soon be doing most of our online business through these applications.
The nature of these apps is going to change web localisation drastically. Instead of working like a traditional search engine, these platforms tend to pull snippets of content from around the web. So your first move when localising pages and content will soon be understanding which personal assistant apps people are using in your target markets and optimising for each of them. Which, in many cases will mean making your brand present on third party sites – like Google Maps, Yelp, Wikipedia, etc – where content is pulled from.
B) Voice search is finally taking off
Apple and Google both brought voice search to smartphones back in 2011 but the technology didn’t make the biggest of impacts. At least not yet anyway, but the big voice transition is coming as personal assistant apps, chatbots and other voice-powered platforms hit the market.
So what does this mean for web localisation? Well, creating pages and content for voice search means rethinking your approach to keyword targeting (long tail keywords, conversational queries, etc.) and the kind of content people need in any given situation.
People aren’t looking to read an article when they voice search for something while driving, for example. Sure, the likes of Siri and other platforms can “read” written content aloud but that’s not the most engaging way to get your message across. A better option might be podcast content for times when people aren’t in a position to read or watch something. In other cases, video or written content will be the best choice.
C) Website builders are getting serious
Website builders aren’t anything new, but they’re reaching a point now where anyone can put together a basic website without any coding or design skills. This is both good and bad news. It’s great that anyone can build themselves a website for minimal cost but the quality of what they’re building is always up for question.
In terms of website localisation, adapting these websites for multiple languages/locations can be difficult. With many builders you can’t even access the code you need to perform basic web localisation tasks and, even if you can, the code they generate is a mess.
In many cases, the money you save by using a website builder gets spent on extra website localisation costs. In others, you may find you have to go back to an agency because your site is unmanageable from a localisation perspective. So always start with web localisation in mind when you choose how to build your site.
4) The chatbots are taking over
The hype surrounding chatbots in 2016 was pretty relentless but things have died down a bit in the first month of this year. Now chatbots are here for real and people are using them to complete a range of online tasks.
This is a very big deal when it comes to localisation because any chatbot you build is supposed to mimic real conversation. So we’re talking about perfect translation, conversational messages and flawless localisation for any number of languages/regions.
5) Goodbye web traffic
Traffic has always been the staple of online marketing goals but this is steadily changing. People increasingly complete their online tasks in Facebook, Google platforms and other applications, without visiting a website.
Search for tomorrow’s weather and up pops an answer box on the results page. Look for a nearby restaurant and you never need to leave Google Maps to get the job done. You can now buy clothes in Facebook Messenger, book flights on Google and do all kinds of things without landing on a web page.
This will only continue as the personal assistant apps we mentioned earlier become the norm. People will rarely need to visit sites because the content will be pulled from your pages or other third-party sites. Web traffic isn’t going to disappear completely but is is going to become a smaller part of the online search and buying journeys.
Each of the trends we’ve looked at today point to one thing: that web localisation needs to be considered in every marketing decision online brands make. It should influence the kind of content you publicise, the page you include on your site and the platforms you target in overseas markets. Waiting until your site is finished and your content published to think about localisation isn’t going to work in the web being built by Google and the other tech giants.