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Information on setting up a bilingual site in Japan

Setting up a bilingual website (static site)

"It is easy, quick and affordable, and by doing it partly on your own".

You probably already own a website and like to turn it to enable other languages. And for those do not have a website can also read on to find out. What do you need? And next question will be, what's the cost? Doesn't matter which question come first to your mind.

The cost has dropped so much during the recent years that it would cost far less than the price of a one-way domestic airfare. If you are prudent, you can set it up for less than 10,000yen with some help here and there or engaging our service. Below are the steps to begin to forming your net presence.

1. First of all, you need to get a domain name.
Though there are many sites that offer you free domains, and with more new perks added, you will forever be tied to them and at their mercy. You should get a domain name of your own. If you already have one, them continue using it by adding a new directory for your English pages or Japanese pages. You can also add a Canonical Name (Cname) and host it separately.

Depending on whether there are functions on your website, you might not want to have them in the same directory, same folder as they might conflict with one another. This shouldn't be a problem at all because you are working towards building a static site at first.

Back to picking your domain name. As you may not get the domain name you wanted (someone else has already registered that domain perhaps), choose something close to your company's name or use shortform. If you can, try to add some product related names into the domain name. However keep it short and do not overdo with the product name.

If you are taking a plan offered by a webhosting company, they usually do register domain names for you included as part of the plan, but I would not recommend that as you don't want to let your webhost hijack your domain name or be held in ransom if you change webhost in the future. Do make sure you are the legitimate owner of the domain. In doubt, register it on your own. Yahoo small business plan for registering a domain cost only around $10 a year. Very simple and easy to register in less than 5 minutes.

As for choosing what type of domains ("dot com", "dot net", "dot co dot jp" or "dot jp"), it is entirely up to you. I would suggest getting both "dot com" and "dot co dot jp" if possible. Do note that you need to be registered business in Japan before you can get the "dot co dot jp" domain. "Dot jp" works just fine without the trouble of filling extra paper work. But I would really recommend that you choose the most popular top level domains(TLDs) like "dot com" if possible. Furthurmore "dot com" domain registration cost far lesser than the cost of "dot co dot jp" and "dot jp".

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2. You need a webhost.
You need to put the webpages somewhere so that it can be seen by everyone. I wouldn't recommend you to have your own server as there is too much work but if you do that is your choice. Compare the offer when choosing which webhost to use, importantly choose those that allows you freedom to switch plan and for upgrades. Below are some pointers to note and you don't really have to fuss over them at this early stage.

Ask yourself who are your customers and where are they from? If the majority of your customers are in Japan or overseas, then you should get a local (Japan based) server. If they are from the States or Europe, I would recommend you to choose a server there instead. Don't be confused with a local webhost a local server. A local webhost can have their servers (and thus your site) in an overseas server, so ask your webhost first before ordering.

Next, to take note of the plan's bandwidth and webspace. If you are planning to use some scripts and require databases along the way, make sure your webhost supports them. Also check the number of email accounts allowed and make sure you have enough for your staff.

3. Prepare the content for your website.
This is where we come in to the picture. We help you with the pages in your website. When you create the content by yourself it saves you the money. Web designers do count the number of trips made to your office to discuss the website that you want to produce. You can even attempt doing the web design by yourself, get softwares like Frontpage to setup your webpages. It is easy and if you can use word, you can use frontpage.

You should be able to a least produce a website with a few pages for products/services, about us page, contact us page and other various information at the very least. We charge a very small fee for touching up your website or add anything that you want to have to produce a professional look. Of course you might not even want to invest in web design softwares as they cost much more than what we charge.

Next regarding putting foreign language content, it is just simply including the correct characters and codes so that the foreign characters can be displayed correctly. There is nothing to worry at all if you run a Japanese site and wish to add an English site. You can get your foreigner staff to do the translation copy or can use our in-house translation service.

All these should take you no more than a week to complete on preparing the content for your website and if you do have many products to showcase at most add another week. Finally all you need is to put those completed pages in the server and your website is almost done. The last thing you need is to drive traffic to your site.

4. Advertise your site.
There are a lot of ways to get visitors and thus potential customers to your site. Small things like including your company URL on your namecard can help to bring visitors. I shall not mention any furthur the old school of advertising like using print media. Since you are now partly running your business online, you should learn about methods to do with eMarketing.

Online advertising medium like Google Adwords, submit your site (to search engines, directories), placing of ad banners, banner exchanging, sending newsletters and advertising emails, syndicating RSS feeds are all part of the work you should learn and help to promote your site.

5. Search engine optimization (SEO)
You tried submitting your site everywhere but you don't see your site being indexed by top search engines. Of course if your keywords are highly competitive like "best hotel" or "cheapest ticket", then you may need to spend a lot of effort and money to get to the top. Redo your keywords or use related keywords so that your chances of being indexed on the top of the list will be higher. All these are just part of SEO and practicing good SEO can help you in your page ranking. Please have a read on my basic SEO tips. It won't happen immediately as it takes time to get good results from SEO.

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