As companies venture out to extend their market reach, one factor rises above all to determine its success, and that is – localization. It’s impressive how consumer brands can quickly reach out to their audiences across the world with the help of technology at the tip of their fingers. This is especially true for companies in the iGaming sector, as new markets and regulations sprout up all the time – just take a look at Japan or the United States.
If you want to tap into a new market region, you need to know how to capture the heart and mind of the locals. However, speaking the customers’ native tongue is just the first step of many. Most successful international companies embrace the culture of the region they are expanding in for successful brand recognition and to ensure that the marketing contents are catered towards the expectation and taste of the local audience. Once you nail it, the benefits it brings back to your business is going to be nothing less than immense.
Content localization not only sparks the connection between your business and the customers but also displays a form of respect and dedication to customers’ needs. As the saying goes – “A small gesture goes a long way,” those who are creative and pay attention to the smallest details will be granted with a head start in this marketing marathon.
Now that you know what the secret sauce is for your next market leap, how do you know that you are ready to take your corporate website to the global spotlight?
Developing a multilingual website takes plenty of time and effort; therefore, asking the right question is crucial before investing all those efforts put into the project. In this case, we believe that the first thing you should ask yourself is – Is there enough evidence to justify your localized brand presence in the selected region?
The answer to this question relies on some quantitative data assets of your website, and Google Analytics might just be what you need. One of the features it provides is an in-depth report of the socio-demographic pattern of your customers including the breakdown of location from which you acquire your customers and the languages they speak. If your website is receiving a significantly high volume of traffic from a specific country/region and if the numbers are convincing, then it is probably time to take the first step: website translation.
Once you have identified your target market, one must also take into account the tech platforms most used by the target market. What type of devices are used to access online contents? What are the most popular social media channels used by locals? Once again, all the required qualitative data can be retrieved from Google Analytics or paid keyword research tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs, and it will narrow down your market research significantly in a time and cost-effective manner.
As we have discussed before, if your website is attracting a significant number of users from a particular region, it can be assumed that the most suitable approach for your site is country targeting. Offering a well-curated and localized user experience for a specific country means higher conversion rates and better brand impression in that particular market.
However, it is wiser to have a language-focused targeting if you cannot track your web traffic back to primary locations. In this way, you will be reaching out to a broader scope of audience through your translated website without needing to offer a fully-customized user experience.
For instance, a website which is translated into Mandarin Chinese will allow your business to engage with users who are not just in China but around the world who can understand the language. By looking at this, language-targeting is a more suitable approach as the first step towards testing a particular set of international markets while country-targeting is ideal for long-term goals as it is more complex and offers an ultimately personalized approach.
Some more examples for language-targeting are Spanish in the United States, Xhosa in South Africa or Turkish in Germany to name a few.
After deciding who and which countries you should localize your web content for, the next big step in any website translation project is to understand which parts of your website needs to be translated as the top priority.
You might want to start with the most important pieces of information on your website. They could be landing pages, About Us page, Contact page, or even FAQs. You can later add on extra content such as blog posts, game info and many more once you have established your online presence for the targeted market(s).
Whether you are targeting your localized content by language or country, it is mandatory to choose the URL structure that is the most suitable for your business through marketing goals, cost, time and effort.
Generally, there are three basic forms of domain structures, and the details of each option along with their pros and cons will be discussed below:
- Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLD): yourwebsite.de
- Subdomains with generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD): de.yourwebsite.com/
- Subdirectories with generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD): yourwebsite.com/de/
The ccTLD domain names are provided with a country-specific code behind each URL, for instance, yourwebsite.de. This structure allows the site to have crystal clear geo-targeting and be highly-favored by international SERPs (search engine results pages). Moreover, from a user’s point of view, it is easy to identify whether a site is localized just by looking at the country code.
Therefore, ccTLD is thought to be the most recommended choice out of all 3 when it comes to country-targeting.
However, this approach might not be suitable for everyone as there is always a high price to pay for good results. Since the URLs are specific for each country, a new domain has to be purchased for each targeted country, and due to limited availability, the price can rocket sky-high sometimes.
Extra expense also includes the cost of setting up a new hosting for the site. Search engines favor locally-hosted websites and rank them higher due to their faster loading speeds. Therefore, it is recommended that a site is hosted with a local IP address and files for that domain to be stored on a local server of that particular country.
One important thing to note is that every ccTLD is a brand new domain and any authority from the root domain will not be carried over to the new site.
Subdirectories are suitable domain structures for a language-targeted approach, and they also work reasonably well for country-targeting. They have a relatively easier set-up process compared to ccTLDs, and the foreign sites are a part of the root domain. This means that any authority built up with the root website will also influence new subdomains. Allowing new external sites to be built from one main host makes subdirectories an indeed cost-effective option.
However, since subdirectories are not hosted from local servers, they tend to rank lower than ccTLDs. The very same reason also causes the websites to load relatively slower, hence, lowering the website ranking by SERPs. One way around this could be using content delivery networks (CDN) like Cloudflare which is a broader topic on its own.
The only advantage that subdomains can offer is that they can be used for both country and language targeting.
One thing both ccTLDs and subdomains have in common is that they both exist as separate domains and can have a local host server in the target market. This also means that the new site is independent of the authority from the parent server. And as a new URL on a potentially new server, this will influence your Google ranking negatively.
An example of a subdomain can be de.yourwebsite.com/. Due to the lack of country-specific code at the end of the domain, it might be difficult for the users to recognize geotargeting from the URL alone. There is a higher chance of it being mistaken for a generic domain instead of a targeted one.
In summary, subdomains are the least preferred option as it needs more effort to grow popularity despite it having a similar level of technical complexity as ccTLDs.
Once you have decided on which languages/countries you want to target, the next step is to ensure that the translated contents are shown correctly on your website.
An ideal multilingual website is a website in which contents are translated and displayed accurately in several languages while messages delivered remain uniform and constant. Although it is not much of a problem for European languages, some Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Indian and Thai have different sets of alphabets and do not use the Roman Alphabet. Moreover, it is essential to take different writing systems into account as Arabic, Hebrew and Urdu contents should be displayed from right to left while Japanese, Korean, Chinese characters can be written from top to bottom.
The correct encoding format is the key to this problem as it allows websites to display the proper form and characters of the different languages it offers. The most recommended character encoding format is UTF-8, and some more examples include HTML, Unicode, and double-byte character encoding.
It’s also crucial to not only pay attention to the encoding format but also the website design. Many web designers and programmers forget that translated texts can have not only different character sets but also different text lengths.
There is already a difference between English and German when content tends to be 10% longer when translated. Now imagine a button or banner that only allows for 10 or 80 characters while the translation would need 15 or 90 characters respectively.
Crystal clear copy might sound fantastic in English, but if the translation doesn’t fit the designated space, you’re making it very hard for the translators. Or if your English-speaking content managers forget to tell the translators about the specific length requirements, your site’s design might crack.
As an example, the English “Bet now” becomes “Jetzt wetten” in German. That’s seven characters becoming twelve, and it can’t be any shorter and still sound well. Now imagine doing that for many different languages.
One way to get around it is allowing for either a dynamic button or font resizing depending on the length of the localized content. If you want to learn more about word lengths, check out our article on the longest words in the 12 most popular European languages where we’ve also included a table on average word lengths per language.
Just like ccTLDs, server location is crucial when targeting your website content to a specific country. But why is it important for your business?
That’s because the location of a server can determine the page loading time, which is one of the 200 google ranking factors . For iGaming operators, the closer the server is located to your players, the faster your web pages can load interactive games. Therefore, server location not only helps your website to rank higher on Google but also assists in providing a better online gambling experience for the players.
However, Google also stated that it is not much of an issue for websites running on content delivery networks (CDNs) or are hosted in a country with a better web server infrastructure.
To set up a multilingual website, translating the contents by a quality translation agency should definitely be one of your concerns. Other big challenges lie in optimizing the translated content with important keywords and ranking your product/services higher in search engines in the targeted languages.
If we talk about search engines, the first thing most people will think of is Google. That is because it is such a dominant player in both the U.S. and European market. However, just like Google, there are several well-known local search engines in other countries, for instance, Baidu in China, Naver in South Korea, Yandex in Russia, etc.
Do analyze what key SEO factors are favored, how the results are displayed in the search result pages and as well as the online search behavior of the users. Each search engine has its secret sauce, and it is your responsibility to study them and find out ways to beat your competitors.
It is also a smart move to keep an eye on different keywords that your local competitors are using since different countries mean different consumer behavior. There are several free keyword research tools such as Google Ads Keyword Planner, AnswerThePublic, and Ubersuggest which are readily available online to assist you with more insights.
So, what’s next?
As we have covered the details of each part, it is time to do a recap. So, here are the nine fundamental things to keep in mind before you start translating your website:
- Research on market demand
- Online user behavior
- Language-targeting vs. Country-targeting
- Prioritized Content
- URL Structure
- Website Encoding
- Website Design
- Server Location
- Multilingual SEO Research
Now that you have a basic idea of how to plan strategically for your new market expansion, the next big step is to START transforming it into reality!
Globalization is already a trend, and your business should also be a part of it. Many famous online casinos, such as Betsson or Unibet, have started offering their website content in several targeted languages and display information that is tailored to that specific region. Through your creative localized content, you can broaden your international market and reach out to iGaming players all around the world.
How did you like May Thawdar Oo’s blog post? Let us know in the comments if you have anything to add, have another content idea for iGaming blog posts, or just want to say “hello.” 🙂