How the Forbes Global 1000 Companies are Using Website Internationalization and Localization to Do Business Globally

by Julia Litvin

The team of IDMspot.com (International Digital Marketing Spot) performed a full digital audit of the first 1000 company websites from the Forbes Global 2000 list, in order to figure out to what extent the top public companies in the world are using digital marketing to communicate with their audience around the globe.

The Forbes Global list is an annual ranking of the top 2000 largest, most powerful, and most valuable companies in the world by Forbes magazine. Ranking criterias include: sales, profit, assets, and market value.

When available, the IDMspot team analyzed the international website version which typically uses a generic TOP Level Domain such as .com. For cases with no international website version, the company’s native website version such as the .de site for a German company or the .it site for an Italian company was used for the research.

The team working on this research include specialists in Inbound & Outbound Marketing, SEO, SMM, and Content Marketing.

The most burning questions which the research team wanted to answer include:

~   How many companies use language targeting

~   How many companies use country targeting

~   How well do brands retain global brand consistency

~   What are the most common URL formats

~   How is language and country selection designed and implemented

~   The usage of global gateways for multi-regional sites

~   What are the most popular languages for multilingual websites

~   What are the most popular countries for multi-regional websites

~   What are the most frequent localization mistakes

~   What are the best practices in website localization

~   How often are social media accounts localized

~   How often is language negotiation used

~   How often is partial localization used

The detailed list of all 20 research metrics can be found in an appendix document below.

After reviewing these websites and analyzing the research data, the team at IDMspot developed a best practice checklist for website localization and internationalization, as well as articles, presentations, infographics, and other assets.

About IDMspot.com

IDM Spot [International Digital Marketing Spot]  is an international digital marketing agency that specializes in the global marketing issues and international marketing strategies for today’s global digital marketplace.


Appendix


Metrics:

1.  Company Type (according to Business Transactions)

2.  Design Score

3.  Global Consistency (Brand Consistency)

4.  Global Gateway (Global Entry)

5.  Language Negotiation

6.  Countries Names

7.  Languages Names

8.  Language Trigger Type

9.  Language Selection Type

10.  Language Trigger/Selection Position

11.  Number of Languages (lingual site versions)

12.  Country Trigger Type

13.  Country Selection Type

14. Country Trigger/Selection Position

15.  Number of Countries (countries' localized websites)  

16.  Mistake

17.  Social Media Accounts Localization 

18.  Account in Local Social Network

19.  Country URL Format

20.  Language URL Format


Company Type (according to Business Transactions)

Options:

B2B

~  B2C


Design Score

Websites' design was estimated by the marketers team according to their subjective opinion. 

The scale was taken from 1 to 10, where 1 meant "awful" and 10 - "awesome!" accordingly.


Global Consistency (Brand Consistency)

How the brand follows the standards of its style and design, does it admit any possible changes according to a localization strategy.

A consistent brand includes standardized colors & design styles, imagery characteristics & illustrations, uniformed typography.

Options:

Consistent - all website versions are consistent with the brand

~  Mostly consistent - most of the websites versions are consistent with the brand

~  Somewhat consistent - some versions are consistent with the brand

~  Little consistent - minority of versions are consistent with the brand


Global Gateway (Global Entry)

Initial page used to select country-specific website version. Generally, such page contains all available countries for selection. 

Usually, URL of this page has '.com' address, what indicates international version and does not include any country codes.

Options:

Yes - global gateway is presented

No - global gateway isn’t presented


For more information on global gateways click here to read our detailed report.


Language Negotiation

Example of the website's version for Visa Hong Kong 

After opening a website it automatically redirects you to the website version in your native, or preferred language according to the URL and on preference information sent by the browser.

Options:

Yes - language switching happens automatically after website has loaded

No - website opens in its native language despite your location


Countries Names

Country name in accordance of its correct spelling in English.


Languages Names

Language name in accordance of its correct spelling in English.


Language Trigger Type

Graphics or a text link which triggers (opens) available language selection.

Options:

~  Language Code - Standard 2-letters language code (EN, DE, RU, FR)

~  3 Letter Language Code - 3-letters language code (ENG, RUS, POL, SWE)

~  Name in Local - a language name in its own language (中文, Hrvatski, Français, עברית)

~  Name in English - a language name in English (German, Italian, Russian)

Country Flag - used a country flag

~  Flag & Language Name - used a flag with a language name

Flag & Language Code - used a flag with a language code

Flag & Country Name & Language Name - used a flag with a country name and a language name

Flag & Country Code & Language Code - used a flag with a country code and a language code

Globe Icon - used a globe icon

Globe Icon & Name in English - used a globe icon with a language name in English

~  Globe icon & Name in Local - used a globe icon with a language name in its own language

Globe Icon & Language Code - used a globe icon with a language code

Globe Icon & Country Name - used a globe icon with a country name

Map & Name in Local - used a map image with a language name in its own language

Map & Name in English - used a map image with a language name in English

Map & Flag - used a map image with a country flag

Map & Country Code - used a map image with a country code

Map & Country Name - used a map image with a country name

Other - some unordinary cases


Language Selection Type

A language can be selected via next options:

Language Code - a language can be selected via a language code

3 Letter Language Code - a language can be selected via its 3 letter code

Name in Local - a language can be selected via its native name

Name in English - a language can be selected via its name in English

Language name in current language version - when language names are translated in the current website language

Name in local & Name in English - a language can be selected via its name in English and its native language

Language name & Language code - a language can be selected via its name together with its code

Country name in English - a language can be selected via a country name in English

Country name in Local - a language can be selected via a country name in its native language

Country Flag - a language can be selected via a country flag

Flag & Name in English & Name in Local - a language can be selected via a country flag with language’s name in English and its native language

Flag & Name in English - a language can be selected via a country flag with language’s name in English

Flag & Name in Local - a language can be selected via a country flag with language’s name in native language

Flag & Language Code - a language can be selected via a country flag with language’s code

Other -  some unordinary cases


Language Trigger / Selection Position

Location of the trigger for language selection or the direct selection of languages on the web page.

Options:

Top Right - language selection or the direct selection of languages is located on the top right side of the page

Top Left - language selection or the direct selection of languages is located on the top left side of the page

Footer Right - language selection or the direct selection of languages is located at the right bottom of the page

Footer Left - language selection or the direct selection of languages is located at the left bottom of the page

Other - other locations


For more information on language selection click here to read our detailed report.


Number of Languages (lingual site versions)

The number of available language versions for selection on the website ( when 2 or more).


Country Trigger Type

Graphics or a text link which triggers (opens) available country selection.

Options:

Name in Local - used a country name in country's own language

Name in English - used a country name in English

~  Country Name & Language Name - used a country name with a language name

Country Code - used a country code

Language Name - used country’s language name

Other - used not standard form

Region Name - used country’s region/continent name

Region Name & Language Name - used country’s region name with a language name

Country Flag - used a country flag

Flag & Country Code - used a country flag with a country code

Flag & Language Code - used a country flag with a language code

Flag & Name in English - used a country flag with country’s name in English

Flag & Name in Local - used a country flag with country’s native name

Flag & Language Name - used a country flag with a language name

Flag & Name in current language version - used a country flag with a country name translated in the language of the current website version

Map Icon - used a map icon

Map & Name in English - used a map icon with a country name in English

Map & Name in Local - used a map icon with a country name in its own language

Map & Name in current language version - used a map icon with a country name translated in the language of the current website version

Map & Country code - used a map icon with a country code

Map & Language Name - used a map icon with a language name

Map & Region Name - used a map icon with a region name

Map & Language Code - used a map icon with a language code

Globe Icon - used a globe icon

~  Globe Icon & Name in Local - used a globe icon with a country name in its own language

Globe Icon & Name in English - used a globe icon with a country name in English

Globe Icon & Region Name - used a globe icon with region’s name

Globe Icon & Language Code - used a globe icon with a language code

Globe Icon & Country Code - used a globe icon with a country code


Country Selection Type

A country can be selected via next options:

Country Code - a country can be selected via its country code

Name in Local - a country can be selected via its native name

Name in English - a country can be selected via its name in English

Name in Local & Name in English - a country can be selected via its local name with English translation

Country name in current language version - a country can be selected via its name, translated in language of the current website version

Country name & Language Name - a country can be selected via its name with a language name

Region Name - a country can be selected via an appropriate region

Region Name & Country Name - a country can be selected via a country name with a region name

Region Name & Language Name - a country can be selected via an appropriate region with a language name

Language Name - a country can be selected/switched via an appropriate language name. Example: “Spanish website” can be a link to the Mexican website

Language Code - a country can be selected/switched via a language code

Country Flag - a country can be selected via its flag

Country Flag & Language Code - a country can be selected via its flag with an appropriate language code

Country Flag & Language Name - a country can be selected via its flag with a language name

Country Flag & Country Name - a country can be selected via its flag together with its name

Country Flag & Country Code - a country can be selected via its flag together with its code

Other -  some unordinary cases


Country Trigger / Selection Position

Location of the trigger for country selection or the direct selection of countries on the web page.

Options:

Top Right - country selection or the direct selection of countries is located on the top right side of the page

~ Top Left - country selection or the direct selection of countries is located on the top left side of the page

Footer Right - country selection or the direct selection of countries is located at the right bottom of the page

Footer Left - country selection or the direct selection of countries is located at the left bottom of the page

Other - other locations


For more information on country selection click here to read our detailed report.


Number of Countries (countries' localized websites)

The number of available country-specific website versions, which can be selected on the main reviewed website (when 2 or more).

Note: if there are several website versions for one country, we count the country once 


Mistake

Mistakes in localization, that can confuse users.

Options:

Yes - there are some mistakes in localization on the website

No - there are no mistakes in localization on the website  


For more information about website localization mistakes click here to read our detailed report.


Social Media Accounts Localization

Presence of links to social media accounts on the main (or localized) web pages

Options:

Common social media account - all localized websites have common social media accounts  

Localized social media account - 70-100% of all localized websites have their own social media accounts for each country

Mostly localized - 40-70% of all localized websites have their own social media accounts

Somewhat localized - 0-40% of all localized websites have their own social media accounts, and the majority has common social media accounts


Account in Local Social Network

Presence of links to local social accounts. Social media used only in specific countries/regions. VKontakte for CIS or WECHAT, WEIBO for China.

Options:

Yes - links to local social accounts are present on local websites

No - links to local social accounts are absent on local websites


For more information on social media accounts localization click here to read our detailed report.


Country URL Format



Identification method of website's direction towards specific country - an option for majority of localized websites (in case if some options are different).

Options:

~  ccTLD

~  ccSLD

~  Subfolder

~  Subdomain

~  URL parameters

~  Mix URL formats

~  Country/region name/code inside domain name (if the initial site’s name doesn’t include this country/region name)


Language URL Format


Identification method of a website lingual version - an option for majority of lingual versions (in case if some options are different).

Options:

~  SLD

~  Subfolder

~  Subdomain

~  URL parameters

~  Mix URL formats

~  Language name inside domain name


Images credit: @williambout, @jontyson | unsplash.com 

Information Request

Success. Thank you!