Thinking global? Check out these leading websites with international reach

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Much has been made of a hyperlocal approach to news, but on the other end of the spectrum there are sites with global aspirations and brand managers navigating country-specific content. A new report by The Common Sense Advisory, an independent research firm specializing in globalization issues, outlines some details on what brings global websites higher international revenues. The report, titled "The Top-Scoring Global Websites ", ,," uses 20 scoring areas to rate the world's 100 Best Global websites in 2011. Here are some of their findings:

Language and the global website

Do you aspire to make your publication a global brand? The report had some interesting findings, particularly relating to language and global web practices.

The total available global Internet audience is 1,887,709,391, calculated for 2010. According to the report, only 23.2% of that global online population can read an English-only site. "There's no doubt about it -- Web globalization is now a mainstream business activity," explains Ben Sargent, the lead author of the report. "Monolingual websites fail to reach even 25% of the world's Internet users. It takes 11 languages to pass the 80% mark."

This leads us to the underlying theme of the report, co-authored by Sargent and Nataly Kelly. In order to communicate with a global audience, companies, brands and non-profits have to speak a minimum of 16 languages if they want to be the among the best.

Granted, most small or even medium-sized publishers don't have the resources to translate their content across 16 different languages. A more modest proposal for a publisher wishing to expand its market is to look at other vibrant English-language populations with expanding wealth. That having been said, the number that really should stand out to publishers is 23.2%, and how limiting that number actually is in terms of a brand's global aspirations.

Scoring

Human researchers culled names of companies in the study from the Forbes Global 2000, Alexa's Top 500 and Interbrand Best Global Brands. From that, 1,000 brands were ranked, inluding Yahoo (#20), MTV.com (#70) and Starbucks.com (#83).

In the end, it was Google that scored first place, with a 9.56 out of 10 (The Olympics would be an example of "a perfect 10" in global web practices according to the report). Facebook came in second, scoring a 9.53; YouTube came in third at 9.51. Rounding out the Top Five on their leaderboard was Wikipedia, at number four, with a score of 9.43, and, finally, at number five, Mozilla, scoring 9.30.

Expectations for 2012 and global web evolution

What did the study find studying the top scoring web brands?

The authors of the study have four expectations as to what they will find in 2012. One, they expect that among the Top 100 sites scored, a more widespread adoption of geolocation and zero click strategies will be evident by 2012.

Two, video and spoken media will increase because they create an immediacy among audiences. "Companies will leverage more corporate video assets for local markets by repurposing with subtitles or local language voiceovers," predicts the study.

Three -- no big surprise -- there will be more social media on global sites. More interesting than that, though, will be watching how companies and brands create and leverage country and culture-specific social networking platforms.

Finally, the study expects better content filters next year. 

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