I’m excited to announce the publication of The 2017 Web Globalization Report Card. This is the most ambitious report I’ve written so far and it sheds light on a number of new and established best practices in website globalization.
Here are the top-scoring websites from the report:
For regular readers of this blog, you’ll notice that Google is yet again ranked number one. But Google isn’t resting on its laurels. While many software companies are happy to support 20 or 30 languages on their websites, Google continues to add languages across its many products. Consider Gmail, with support for 72 languages and YouTube, with 75 languages. And let’s not overlook Google Translate, now at 100+ languages.
Google could still stand to improve in global navigation, though I am seeing positive signs of harmonization across its many product silos. But I do maintain the recommendation that Google present a more traditional global gateway to visitors across its sites and apps.
Other highlights from the top 25 list include:
Consumer goods companies such as Pampers and Nestlé are a positive sign that non-tech companies are making positive strides in improving their website globalization skills.
IKEA returned to the list this year after making a welcome change to its global gateway strategy.
Nissan made the top 25 list for the first time. BMW slipped off the list.
As a group, the top 25 websites support an average of 54 languages (up from 52 last year); if we removed Wikipedia from the language counts the average would still be an impressive 44 languages.
GoDaddy, a new addition to the Report Card, wasted little time in making this list. Its global gateway is worth studying.
Luxury brands such as Gucci and Ralph Lauren continue to lag in web globalization — from poor support for languages to inadequate localization.
The average number of languages supported by all 150 global brands is now 31.
But as you can see here, the rate of language growth, on average, is slowing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Companies are telling me that they are investing more on depth and quality of localization — which is of huge importance.
The data underlying the Report Card is based on studying the leading global brands and world’s largest companies — 150 companies across more than 20 industry sectors. I began tracking many of the companies included in this report more than a decade ago and am happy to share insights into what works and what doesn’t. Time is often the greatest indicator of best practices.
I’ll have much more to share in the weeks and months ahead. If you have any questions about the report, please let me know.
Congratulations to the top 25 companies and the people within these companies that have long championed web globalization.
Remember not very long ago when social media experts were preaching the value of a Facebook page over a website?
It was not uncommon to be told to dump your website altogether in favor of a Facebook page and Twitter feed. Why bother with HTML when you you could simply hashtag your way to global success?
My how times have changed.
I find it telling that, according to Marketing Land, Super Bowl ads displayed website URLs over hashtags for the first time in several years:
Perhaps hashtags aren’t as a sexy as they once were.
And Facebook is not the generous landlord it once was; anyone who wants to get their message out to all followers is going to have to pay to do so. Facebook and Instagram were mentioned in only 6% of those Super Bowl ads.
And what about mobile apps? Remember when everyone needed one?
According to ComScore, people only use about 25 apps a month, while they will visit 100 websites. So if you’re not among those top 25 mobile apps, you’re far better off investing in your website.
Websites continue to be the best bang for your marketing dollar. Not just in the United States but around the world.
I’m hard at work on the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card and I’ve noticed an increasing number of companies asking visitors to join their mailing list. I believe email was dead once as well not very long ago.
Email is still here. So are websites. The more things change the more things stay the same.
It’s hard to believe that this is the twelfth edition of the Report Card. Over the past decade I’ve seen the average number of languages supported by global brands increase from just 10 languages to 30 languages today.
And, of course, the top 25 websites go well beyond 30 language. Google supports 90 languages via Google Translate and 75 languages on YouTube. And Facebook stands at 88 languages.
But it’s not just languages that make a website succeed globally. Companies need to support fast-loading mobile websites, locally relevant content, and user-friendly navigation.
Notable highlights among the top 25:
Wikipedia is far and away the language leader, with content in more than 270 languages. The company also now supports a mobile-friendly layout that is considerably lighter (in kilobytes) than most Fortune 100 mobile websites.
NIVEA provides an excellent example of a company that localizes its models for local websites — one of the few companies to do so.
Nike made this top 25 list for the first time, having added languages and improved global consistency and navigation.
As a group, the top 25 websites support an average of 52 languages.
For 2016, we studied 150 websites across 15 industry categories — and more than 80% of the Interbrand Best Global Brands. Websites were graded according to languages supported, global navigation, global and mobile website architecture, and localization.
Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes has been studying corporate communications strategies of the Fortune 500 for the past eight years. Key findings include:
Twenty-one percent of the Fortune 500 has a corporate blog (103 corporations) (21%); a decrease of 10% from 2014.
Twitter is more popular than Facebook with the Fortune 500 (78% vs 74%).
Glassdoor (87%) has joined LinkedIn (93%) as a popular business tool.
The use of Instagram has increased by 13%. A total of 33% of the Fortune 500 having an Instagram presence, pointing to a continued growth in interest in visually rich platforms.
I have noticed that fewer companies are publishing blogs these days — particularly globally. I view this as a missed opportunity, though I understand why it is happening. Creating content that people actually want to read is hard work. It’s not as sexy as chasing the latest new social network, like Snapchat or Instagram.
Blogs, well produced, can be an amazing source of leads, search engine traffic and customer engagement — even with mobile users. And if you support blogs across a variety of languages you will only multiply the traffic you receive.
I’m not suggesting that companies not support Twitter, Instagram, etc. In fact, blogs provide foundational content for Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.
One company still invested in blogs (and other content) is Capgemini:
And here is an excerpt from the German site — local-language blogs:
Perhaps I’m a bit biased about blogs, as I’ve been writing this one for more than a decade.
But I suspect companies will one day come full circle on this.
Any company with global aspirations cannot afford to ignore the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. It’s a region that includes more than two billion people across more than 20 countries, ranging from Australia to Indonesia to China and Japan.
This article (the second of two) offers a few web localization tips to keep in mind.
Don’t Be Colorblind
Colors carry cultural and emotional significance. And sometimes colors mean very different things depending on the culture. At a Chinese wedding, for example, the bride typically wears red, not white. This alone should underscore just how important red is in the Chinese culture.
White is more often associated with death, and some companies go so far as to avoid packaging their products in white (though Apple seems to have done quite well in spite of this perceived hurdle). One key point to keep in mind is that red is positive and green is not so positive, at least so far as the stock market is concerned.
Shown here is a daily summary of the Shanghai Composite Index. While the red text may appear ominous to a Western investor, the stock market actually finished up 12 points this day.