How Localization Services Work

Often used interchangeably with translation, localization services are actually much different. They help shape a variety of different types of content to fit within the cultural, linguistic, and legal nuances and specifications of a given country. As the world’s borders continue to shrink, it’s evident that many businesses are trying to enter new and previously unexplored markets. While this opens up a world of opportunities in terms of increasing revenue streams, it also poses challenges in terms of the ways in which content is presented to its end-user. This is where localization services come in. Here are some things you need to know.

Translation vs. Localization 

As mentioned above, translation and localization are often used interchangeably. However, while both are part of the language-translation industry, localization goes a couple of steps further. Let’s take a brief look at what translation means. Essentially, it’s the process of using appropriate word-for-word meaning from a source language into a target language. But in many cases, especially in a cross-cultural context, this won’t work for a global audience. The information and content need to be localized. This means taking into consideration cultural nuances, myths and beliefs, faith systems, legal parameters, linguistic differences in terms of use of idioms and colloquialism, and more. Therefore, localization services seek to go beyond a mere word-for-word translation. They literally make the content that much more local so that it is better accepted by the local audience at which the message is targeted. 

What are Localization Services and What Do They Include?

In order to best make use of localization services, a couple of factors need to be taken into account. These include but are not limited to the source language, the target language, the expected word count after localization, use of colors, shapes, emblems, symbols, etc. (which may have contrasting cultural meanings), button sizes, formatting (eg. date and time, whether the content will be read from left to right or right to left, or even top to bottom). Other factors include the time the project will take for completion, the implementation phase of the localization services, and finally, measuring the results of the localization efforts.  

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The Localization Process

As a result of the above, the localization process usually entails the following steps:

  1. Content analysis
  2. Content management
  3. Three-step translation process (translation, editing, and proofreading for consistency)
  4. Delivery
  5. Back conversion
  6. Desktop publishing
  7. In-context quality control
  8. Finalization

Types of Localization Services

With the growing demand for content across multiple platforms, there is also growing demand for localization services to meet businesses’ diverse needs. As a result, some of the most common types of localization services can be narrowed down to the following:
localization services

  • Website localization: website localization services are critical in ensuring that a brand’s main message from its website is conveyed effectively in the target language. Most of Google’s users are not native language English speakers even if they may be from an English-speaking country. Therefore, localization services should ensure that when it comes to website localization, the accuracy of the message is conveyed while also ensuring it takes into account cultural, linguistic, and legal contexts.
  • SEO localization: search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical part of ensuring that a business can rank highly on a search engine’s results page. Here, user intent is determined by the keywords used in user searches. However, if a company or business undertakes a direct translation of these keywords, they could run into two problems. On the one hand, the translated keywords may not have any literal or figurative meaning in the translated language. On the other, there may be cultural nuances behind certain keyword usage that need to be taken into account. This is why it’s also important to localize SEO.
  • Video game localization: video games have taken the world by storm, and whereas some markets are more lenient than others, there are those that have more stringent requirements for video games. This is where game localization comes into play. Game localization is the process of looking at every facet of the game being offered. This can range from looking at the characters, their names, their outfits, the colors used, the monologues and dialogues used between players, subtitle localization, button and menu settings, and so much more. By not paying attention to game localization requirements, a business risks losing out on massive potential marketplaces which they could penetrate.
  • Software localization: last but not least on our list is software localization. Many products and service-oriented businesses today have apps to make their customers’ lives that much easier. Whether it’s a financial product, a language product, or another type, it’s crucial that software such as apps is translated and localized accurately, too. Software localization will not only benefit the user in terms of having a more favorable user experience, but it can help generate more revenue for the company if done right. 
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The Way Forward With Localization Services

There’s a world of difference between translation and localization and these differences are vital to be kept in mind when a business is considering entering an overseas market. Hopefully, by now you already have a clear idea of why localization is important. So, when choosing localization services, be sure to speak to a language service provider who can help meet all your localization needs in one place. Look for industry experience, translators’ qualifications, the history of the organization, and other factors to ensure you pick the best provider for your needs.