I’m pretty lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most intelligent, creative experts in today’s business environment – industry-leading visionaries and brilliant entrepreneurs alike. And one of my all-time favorites is John Yunker, author of the annual Web Globalization Report Card.
John was kind enough to answer some questions for us last week after wrapping up a super interesting session on “How to Globalize Your Website” at SDL Innovate 2014, and I’d like to share his answers with you here today.
Kathleen Bostick: Byte Level Research has been publishing your highly valuable Web Globalization Report Card every year since 2005. Looking back, what best practice or technology has remained constant since you started?
John Yunker: The importance of supporting the user’s language. While this seems awfully obvious, in 2005 the average number of languages supported by the leading global brands was just 12. Today, the average is 29 languages, with many companies supporting 40 or more languages. The Internet connects computers but it is language that connects people.
The reuse of global design templates, once a relatively novel concept, is also now a firmly established best practice. As companies go from supporting a few localized websites to more than 20 or 30, global templates allow them to expand their global reach more efficiently.
KB: We know you’ve got your finger on the pulse of website language trends. Have you been surprised by any unexpected languages offered on websites recently? If so, which one(s) and why do you think they’re emerging?
JY: I’m pleasantly surprised to see a number of companies, such as Coca-Cola and Honeywell, add support for Arabic over the past year. Arabic is now supported by roughly half of the world’s leading global websites, which is exciting to see.
I’m disappointed that Indic languages are not receiving the attention they deserve. A lot of companies are hoping they can succeed in India supporting English only. I’m not sure that’s going to be true. Companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Intel do support Hindi, which is promising development, but we have a long ways to go yet. I’d love to see more companies begin supporting at least a few of India’s official languages.
KB: Let’s not name names, but what are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen in global social media campaigns?
JY: I often see localized websites in non-English speaking markets promoting social feeds that are supported only in English. Too many companies still cling to this idea that they can leverage one Twitter and one Facebook feed globally, which is driven in part by an obsession with accumulating a significant number of Likes or Follows. If you can break this mindset, you can focus more on the quality of Likes and Follows. For example, companies need to understand that when they start supporting language- or country-specific social feeds, that the raw numbers will be lower on average, but that the level of engagement will likely be quite a bit higher.
KB: Please complete the following sentence:
No matter where your organization is on the web globalization spectrum (e.g., you just went global last Tuesday, or you’ve already mastered a 30-language site on multiple platforms), one thing remains constant _____.
JY: Web globalization is an exciting journey, and one without end.
KB: How are the latest developments in the Google algorithm (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird) helping or hurting global, multilingual SEO? What should global webmasters know and do about changes in search technology when it comes to reaching a multilingual audience?
JY: On balance, I’d say Google’s algorithm has rewarded those companies that have invested in supporting country codes as well as in-depth, localized content. A company can’t simply translate its homepage and assume that Google will treat that as a newly localized website; it needs go quite a bit deeper in content and functionality.
I also find that the “freshness” of content plays a big factor in search success, either through blog posts in local languages, integration of social content, and regularly updated content on the home pages of local websites.
Finally, companies that set strict weight limits with their desktop and mobile websites to create fast-loading websites are also going to see long-term benefits from Google.
KB: On a personal note and speaking of penguins, congratulations on the success of your 2010 novel, The Tourist Trail. What’s next for you at Ashland Creek Press?
JY: Thank you for the kind words. Ashland Creek Press has been a labor of love and is now the home to an amazing collection of environmental and animal-themed novels. This fall we will be publishing the latest novel by New York Times bestselling author Gwyn Hyman Rubio, titled Love and Ordinary Creatures. It’s an amazing novel, written from the perspective of Sulphur-crested cockatoo, and we’re excited to be introducing it to the world. Those interested can download a free sample of this and all of our books at www.ashlandcreekpress.com. As for my writing, I’ve completed a few stage plays and I am (slowly) working through a new novel. Stay tuned at Ashland Creek Press!
Find out more…
Given the rapid pace of change in global website management, it’s really important to know where to look for current, relevant answers and advice. I highly recommend you include John Yunker, his annual Web Globalization Report Card, his “How to Globalize Your Website” presentation, and his Global by Design website in your global web management toolbox.
Finally, a big shout-out to John for taking the time to answer my questions and share his ideas this week. Happy 10th Anniversary of the Web Globalization Report Card, John… and many happy returns!
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Image: Judith Doyle