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What are the advantages of a multilingual website today?

2 Jun 2017

Is your product or service meant for an international audience? Would you like to be able to communicate to foreigners in your own country? Are you running an e-commerce site and want to grow your client base?

There are many reasons to make your website multilingual, but what are the actual advantages? Take a look at the current realities and best practices that must be followed to take advantage of a multilingual website.

What is a multilingual website?

Before delving too deeply, it should be made clear that a multilingual website isn’t necessarily an international one. For example, by offering content in both English and French in Canada, I can target both the French and English speaking portions of the population.

We’re talking about a website where the content is available, depending on the language, on separate pages, not English and French on the same page!

The information will be basically equivalent between the different languages (or sometimes quite different depending on your approach).

Multilingual websites: key advantages

The creation of a multilingual website carries a number of advantages for businesses.

  1. Increase the number of potential buyers
    We’re likely to only buy what we understand!
    Translating website content in multiple languages allows you to offer your online products and services to new customers through their native language.
  2. Substantially increase sales
    Is your site’s primary language in French? Translating it into Spanish, Italian, German, and Dutch will allow you to significantly augment your online sales.
  3. Open company image
    Translating your website shows the world that you have an open approach to your business. This positive image will even be noticed by your local clientele.
  4. Customer satisfaction
    Your multilingual site will also help you create a competitive advantage. Being able to address your clients directly, in their native language, will make the entire user experience more positive.
    You show your customers that they are important to you and that you are willing to invest in translating content for them.
  5. Increase your indexing on research engine results
    With an international strategy, it is critical to have a good indexing on each of the various countries where you are active. The creation of a multilingual website is essential to be well indexed within the various search engines in your targeted countries.

Multilingual best practices

How do you create a good multilingual website? Here are some key points that you cannot miss for an effective site:

First and foremost… a good translation

You can’t settle for a translation that is almost good enough… You’ll immediately scare away the native speakers!

Use a professional translation agency, specialized in your field if necessary (for translations in fields like legal, financial, medical, etc.), to get the most appropriate translation.

Translate everything!

You cannot just have a button here in one language or a banner there in another. EVERYTHING must be translated and you should only have ONE LANGUAGE per page.

Define the proper URL structure

Ideally, you should have a different URL for each translation to allow search engines to index each of the translations of your original site.

Different domain names like mycompany.co.uk or mycomany.fr should be used if your company is implanted in multiple countries and uses different business strategies.

Localize your content

Google wants to know what region you are targeting (as well as the language you are using).

If an English person searches for a frozen goods delivery service, the top proposed sites should be located in the United Kingdom, or more specifically in his local area, not located in the United States.

Opt for the proper language selector

Why not a flag? Because the flag references a country and not a language!
On a French website, why wouldn’t you mark “espagnol” or “anglais”?
Because a native speaker would more naturally click on “Español” or “English”!

And WordPress?

WordPress allows you to manage multiple sites with a single dashboard.

How? By creating a network of the sites on a common platform. You can use the same themes and the same extension. Site management is quicker and easier.

Read also: Top 5 plugins to make your WordPress site multilingual