As you are growing and developing your business, often you’ll only be thinking about one or two steps down the road, even if your five or ten year plan is much more complex than that. When planning your content management system, you can save yourself, your company, and your employees a lot of hassles and headaches if you approach your plans with best practices in mind for international expansion.
Andy Atkins-Krüger covers this topic in his article “My Dream International Content Management System”. I’m going to talk a little bit about these three topics in his article:
– World character sets,
– Managing content across local domains, and
– Translation and SEO workflow.
When it comes to world character sets, remember that there are a wide variety of characters and accents not used in the English language. Instead of getting a translation that gives a question mark or a box in the middle of a word – which is at the very least distracting and also has the potential to cause huge problems with your clients’ ability to understand your content – you want your content to be seamless, no matter what language you are using. Atkins-Krüger recommends using unicode or UTF8 for your online character coding. If you start with this standard, there will be no need to backfit or work out other solutions in the future.
With international expansion comes the issue of managing your content across local domains. Sometimes your company will be able to do this from one main location, but in that case, your resources will need to be shared from site to site. The key to success according to Atkins-Krüger is that “You also want to be able to manage the internal linking of the sites from that single interface and to manage the geo-selection tool which links one domain to all others on one single URL linked to from all pages.”
Of the three topics related to international CMS that we are talking about today, translation and SEO workflow can be the most difficult to navigate. In some cases, your company may need to rethink your online organizational strategy when going into different markets. “The best way to do this is to link it to a keyword map of all pages, so you know what needs to be targeted where and to link those keywords to glossaries to be used by the translators that support your SEO initiatives.” according to Atkins-Krüger’s article. It’s most important to note though that making web pages accessible for clients in other languages does not start and end with translation. Content may need to be different for a new market and your keywords may need to be refined, which can result in a slightly different SEO strategy.
International expansion can be a big project for your company, but if you incorporate some of these ideas into your original content management system, your company can come out ahead of the game when the time comes.