So, you already have a great US website that is search engine optimized for the US market and successfully transmits information about your products and services to Americans. However, you would like to offer the same level of service with a French market website. How does the US website need to change to accomplish this? The most obvious difference is language. However, there are many other not-so-obvious ways that the French version of a website needs to change to stay relevant for its target market.
According to James Brockbank, 75% of Internet users will not make purchasing decisions in a language different than their primary language. Also, for 70% of Internet users, English is not their primary language. Therefore, it is imperative to offer a native language website to international customers, regardless of whether or not they know English.
Search engines will reject sites translated by a computer as not important. As a result, your site will become buried under sites deemed more worthy. Therefore, a professional, human translation by a native French speaker of all pages and posts is imperative to make the pages acceptable to search engines. You will need to translate every piece of text on the site. This includes the site title, URL, metadata, meta description, header tags, image alt text, image file names, and image tags.
French words are, on average, 25% longer than their English equivalents. Therefore, direct translations will need more page space and may require more pages for your site. In terms of content management systems, WordPress is the most agile website platform available to date. Its Multilingual Plugin can help you to build and run a French market website.
Remove or replace text and graphics containing references to objects, actions, or ideas that may be subject to misinterpretation or viewed as insensitive in France. Over time, reevaluate what works best in the French market. To add context to your products and services, provide a list of French clients and case studies. Adjust information about guarantees, shipping methods, and legal policies to match those prevalent in France.
Begin contact information with a physical address located in France and a French phone number, formatted in the French way. For example, in France the zip code is listed before the city. Also, for all calendar date references, the day should precede the month, and the year should follow. Following French protocol, list opening and closing times for your business in the 24-hour format, such that 2pm is shown as “14h.” Set any time or clock plugins to the French time zone. Show prices in Euros that include VAT (sales tax is included in the sales price in France).
Turning a US website into a French market website means designing and developing in a way that removes barriers to international deployment. Especially important, enable the use of Unicode, or ensure the proper handling of legacy character encoding. Accommodate for international character handling with UTF-8 compliant content management software. Also, choose a globally used font for your website, such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Verdana.
Automatically redirect customers to the right local country site by setting up a dedicated Internet protocol (IP) address and selecting a browser language. With simple coding, you can provide alternate text translated into French for the French market website. Also, you can create domain extension country-specific sites, or redirect to a sub-directory.
You can use country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), such as www.domain.com versus www.domain.fr, to structure your sites. However, they require a lot of resources in terms of both time and money. Sub-folders are a good compromise. They provide flexibility to become country specific without setting up a whole new site, such as www.domain.com/us versus www.domain.com/fr. This is a more affordable and manageable option for small to medium sized enterprises.
Content delivery networks (CDNs) are servers across the globe that help to speed up delivery of large files to users of international websites. However, it is advantageous to set up your site on a local French server. If your company is based in the United States and you have a .fr extension of your site, have the .fr domain extension site hosted on a server in France for the French market website. Apart from these options, you may set your site location to France in the Google webmaster tools.
Search Engine Optimization
Build a separate keyword list for each country or language with the help of a native speaker to understand the terminology and cultural differences. Also, the Google Adwords Keyword Planner can help you do research in a different language. Long-tail keywords with less competition will increase traffic. Make sure to target popular search engines. For example, Google dominates the French market 95%, followed by Yahoo!/Bing and Qwant.
Once you have a French market website up and running, you can test how it responds to an international audience with WebPagetest. Google Analytics and similar services can keep track of visitors, including what country they are from. As can be seen from this review, setting up a French market website is not as simple as just translating the text. A good marketer must align a wide array of factors on a website to make it competitive in France. This is why choosing an experienced provider like ADEXMA is key.
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