Localization or localisation? Correct grammar vs. SEO

Roy Pedersen

It was a good end to the day, apparently. Just before switching off, I had suddenly gotten the urge to google ‘poker localization’. I wanted to see if the SEO from our new website had kicked in. And there it was...

poker localization google

We had reached number 1.

A rush of endorphins came to life. I had to do another search. Let’s try… casino localization. This time we had the top 2 results.

casino localization google

I kept going and the good times kept flowing. Bingo localization – number 1. Betting localization – number 1. Slot machine localization – number 1.

We were number 1 or high up for almost all of the keywords in each of the 22 localization service specifications we had written SEO articles about. Eureka! I thought to myself, before a Facebook message from Ivonne Montealegre, Tournament Director at Pokerlisting, slapped me back to reality with a backhand.

Ivonne: “Hi! On your website you have an error. Localization should be localisation when it comes to language - regional adaptations :)”

Me: “hmm are you sure about that? we had a discussion here and it really varies. I think it's z in US English and s in UK English, but when you search on Google z is much more popular. But if you have more information I would be very interested.”

Ivonne: “I am sure. I had this argument at xxxxxxxxxx and they changed everyone's titles to localisation specialist. Localization: geography localisation: regional adaptation of language”.

The company which Ivonne speaks of is one of the biggest gaming companies in the industry, and I know for a fact that they would not implement a change like this without proper research.

Also, Wikipedia backs her argument. On their page about localization, the spelling switches to localisation as soon as they start talking about language localisation, as opposed to localization in mathematics, engineering, physics and biology.

Still, my spellchecker in Word, which for some reason now has automatically switched to US English, acts like my 4th grade English teacher and adds an angry red line each time I write localisation. Also, a Google search for ‘language localization’ gives 10 million hits vs. 8 million hits for ‘language localisation’.

So what do we do? As a language service provider the last thing we want is to have a spelling mistake on our website. That is like being a doctor and prescribing the wrong medicine. But apparently more people will search for the term which is actually wrong.

Should we mix it up, and write the term differently here and there? It is tempting, but inconsistency is almost as horrifying as spelling mistakes.

So let us take this to a vote, or a survey if you will:

If you were to search for ‘language localisation services’ would you write localization or localisation?

We encounter similar issues in our daily translation work for gaming companies. A good example is the term ‘casino’. In many languages it is not written as ‘casino’, but rather as ‘kasino’ or kazino’ or similar.

But ‘casino’ is such an international term which is often subject to Anglicism and it seems likely that people would use the international version when searching for it online.

For an online gaming company, online hit rate usually weighs heavier than grammatical correctness, as long as the correctness does not damage the trustworthiness. We have taken this into consideration and always ask our clients whether they want us to translate in a traditionally correct manner, or if they prefer a more trendy approach that sometimes might be less correct.

You can see the full stylistic preference form which we send out to new clients here.

The scenario is however a bit different for the online presence of All-In Translations, considering the fact that we are a language service provider specialising in gaming. Or are we specializing?

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  • Michele

    I was in the bath last night and suddenly noticed that my bubble bath (it’s a really nice pink bubble bath that makes lots of bubbles) had the word “Energizing” written on it and sitting right next to it was my shower gel telling me that it was “Energising”.