Localize or go global?

Sometimes it is very difficult to decide what to do when you are writing an article that you wish every Spanish speaking person around the world could connect with immediately. Looks like mission impossible?

Well, just the fact that you stopped and thought about your target audience is a huge step forward.  It means you are aware that writing online is not like writing for local or national media.

1. Being aware of your target is the first step.

Now that you realized that  you want your article to be read in Bolivia or Spain without lifting eyebrows you might review your topic. Remember El Quijote or any Shakespeare play. Those guys had their books translated into many languages and have survided for centuries because they were all about universal values. Think how your article about the Day of the dead in Mexico can connect with the Argentinian audience, for instance, and go for it.

2. Find universal values in your story

Of course, the connection needs to be made through the topic and the language and visuals you use to depict the content. Then, be careful with the language. Try to move away from words that are too popular for a single audience but senseless for others. “Platicar” may be very common in Mexico but not in other countries. “Conversar” is common to all Spanish speaking countries. Or between “carro” o “coche” there is always “auto”.

In the same way, you have to be very careful with some words that could be offensive in some Spanish speaking countries. “El culo” is pretty common in Spain, but completely unacceptable in Latin America. “La teta” means the baby bottler but is a pretty vulgar way of calling the female breasts in Spain.

3. Watch your language

There are times where you cannot be global. This is a problem with SEO. Natural search screams for globalization but the way it goes for us editors is not very global: When you create a title for your story that you would like to match with a url you start asking yourself if you should go Colombian, Mexican or Chilean.

This is where the SEO tools come in very handy. Take for instance Adwords. Do a search and find out what the majority is using when entering a query in Google.

4. When in doubt, look for the highest common denominator

“Yes but what if in my target audience pie, the biggest slice is for Venezuela although there are big chunks of Argentinians and Equatorians?” and what happens when we have an audience like the one  in Spain that is very tech savy and uses Spanish the most part of the time versus the Mexican audience, that is very used to search in English? This impacts SEO as well although it is a matter of time, SEO tools are very blind. So what I do is goolgle the words to see what type of website content comes up with that particular query. And I find out what my competitors are using as well.

5. Do your homework and double check.

Clarisse Céspedes

Journalist and Content Strategist. SEO, sponsorships and video. Follow me on Facebook and @ClarisseCespede.

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