One of the biggest advantages of having a website for your business is that its reach isn’t limited by geographic location. Anyone with access to Internet service can visit your website, learn about your business, and discover your products and services.
But what if the person who clicks on your website isn’t proficient in English?
If you want your brand to go global or if you’re targeting a specific region to sell your products to, the additional investment to have a multilingual website will be worth it.
What Is A Multilingual Website?
A multilingual website is one where the web pages are translated into other languages. For example, if you’re thinking of visiting Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan, the amusement park’s website has the option of having its pages translated into English.
You might be thinking “Why do I need my website translated to another language when English is the most popularly spoken language in the world?”
Yes, you’re correct. According to Ethnologue, English is spoken by over 1.4 billion people worldwide. Chinese-Mandarin is number 2 at 1.1 billion people and Hindi a distant third at 600 million people.
However, when it comes to online behavior, the following statistics show language preferences do matter.
- 60% of online shoppers prefer to patronize websites that are available in languages other than English.
- 73% of online shoppers will choose a website that can be translated in their language over another that’s available only in English.
- Quick Sprout saw a 47% increase in search traffic after shifting to a multilingual website design.
- 50% of websites are written in English but 70% of their visitors prefer to view the site in their own language.
Thus, even if your website doesn’t sell products or services to other regions, from a brand-building perspective, converting to a multilingual website design could be worth the investment because your website can be appreciated and be found useful by a larger audience.
There are other benefits to having a multilingual website that will make the transition worthwhile.
- Reduce Bounce Rate – By having pages available in other languages, more visitors will stay on your website. Reducing the bounce rate will give your website a boost in the search rankings.
- Stay Ahead of the Competition – You need every advantage to your side in order to remain top-of-mind with your target market. Having a multilingual website will clearly differentiate your business from the competition.
- Enhance Customer Experience – Don’t be surprised if your site analytics reveal that you have a good number of visitors from international locations. They’ll be pleasantly surprised if they find out your website can be translated into their language.
- Generate More Leads – People who feel comfortable exploring a website will more than likely sign up for your newsletter service or avail of your onsite promotions. You’ll be able to generate leads from other countries, not just your own.
- Improve Sales Conversion – And if you can generate more leads, it follows that you improve your chances of converting interest into sales.
Having a multilingual website improves user experience. If users are happy using your website, they will continue to patronize it for years to come.
Even the site visitors who don’t speak a second language will be impressed that you made the decision to go multilingual. It shows that you’re invested in growing a global business.
If we’ve convinced you to go with multilingual web design, be ready to take the next step and have your site optimized for search.
Why Your Multilingual Website Needs SEO
To reap the benefits, it’s not enough to just go multilingual. Like any other website, it has to undergo SEO in order to be found by search engines.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of using different techniques to increase the visibility of a website on the Internet. The objective of SEO is to drive traffic from the targeted audience to the website.
Thus, the focus of SEO is increasing organic search traffic – getting views from those who are genuinely interested in your business.
You can learn more about SEO by reading this article we wrote “The Basics Of SEO”.
In fact, that’s an example of an SEO technique – embedding internal links on our content. By clicking on the article, you’ll land on another page on our website and spend extra time reading the content.
The challenge with optimizing multilingual websites is that translation is involved. You have to identify the pages that need to be translated and the languages you want them translated to.
It’s not as simple as translating an English copy into another foreign language. At the heart of SEO is customizing content to a targeted audience. The content has to remain relevant, useful, and informative to their search inquiries.
If your current English copy has been optimized for the English-speaking population and you’re targeting the Japanese market, then you must optimize the content to be searchable by your target market in the Japanese-speaking population.
And you’ll have to follow the same process if you’re targeting buyers in Germany, France, and Spain in addition to Japan. You have to translate your web pages to German, French, and Spanish and optimize their content to be searchable by your target market in those countries.
The good news is that the task isn’t as challenging as you might think. Other than translation, you’ll have to change up a few things on your website but the principles of SEO will largely remain the same.
SEO Techniques For WordPress Multilingual Websites
The fact that you’ve gotten this far in our article tells us you’re:
- Interested in converting your current website into a multilingual website;
- Interested in setting up a multilingual website;
- Believe in the effectiveness of SEO;
- Using WordPress.
WordPress is always an excellent choice as your website platform and Content Management System (CMS). It has thousands of plugins that you can use to upgrade your website.
Here are 10 WordPress plugins you can use to translate your content into other languages:
- Weglot Translate
- WooCommerce Multilingual
- Multisite Language Switcher
- Lingotek Translation
- Google Language Translator
- BuddyPress Multilingual
If you want to learn more about the best WP plugins to convert your website into a multilingual website, give us a call or drop us an email. Let’s have a quick meeting to discuss your business and how we can make your website friendly and accessible to users from other countries.
5 Best SEO Techniques For WordPress Multilingual Websites
Now let’s discuss some of the SEO techniques we use to get multilingual websites visible to their target market.
Let’s start with an important consideration that falls under Technical SEO or optimization actions done on your website’s internal structure.
1. Improving the URL Structure
In order to help Google’s search bots find and index your website for users coming from international locations, it’s important to have a URL that’s dedicated to the country and its language.
There are 3 ways you can improve the URL structure for an international audience:
ccTLD stands for Country Code Top-Level Domains or assigning a specific domain name for each language.
Here are examples of ccTLD:
- mountaintopwebdesign.es (Spain)
- mountaintopwebdesign.fr (France)
- mountaintopwebdesign.jp (Japan)
By providing each language or country its own domain, it will make it easier for Google to find, index, and retrieve your multilingual side for an international audience.
However, adding domains will increase your cost and require more time and resources in managing multiple sites. If this isn’t your preference, there are other approaches you can consider.
B. Using Subdirectories with gTLD
This approach means adding subdirectories for each language within a single domain or Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD).
Here are examples of URLs with subdirectories for each language:
The risk here is that it might cause confusion among site users. Some users might think the subdomain indicates the primary language used for the site.
C. Using Subdomains with gTLD
A subdomain is a section of the original domain that’s dedicated or assigned to manage a specific function.
Think of Google and how it designates a subdomain for its Gmail service as “mail.google.com”.
For the additional languages, the subdomains will appear as follows:
Similar to using subdirectories with gTLD, this option might also cause confusion among site users. However, the last 2 options are much more cost-effective and can give site speed a boost.
2. Perform Keyword Research
The strategic use of keywords remains the cornerstone of effective SEO. Keywords are the words or phrases used by searchers to refine their search inquiry.
For example, if searchers are looking for running shoes, they might use the keywords:
- Running shoes
- Best running shoes
- Cheap running shoes
- Running shoes near me
- Running shoes flat feet
But searchers from other regions might have different search inquiries regarding running shoes. For example, searchers from busy Tokyo, Japan might prefer shoes that offer the best comfort and use different keywords to frame their search queries:
- Most comfortable walking shoes
- Soft walking shoes
- Best walking shoes near me
- Comfortable running shoes for walking
- Walking shoes wide feet
Thus, if you’re targeting the Japanese market for your collection of footwear, you’ll have to edit your content to include high-ranking, high-volume keywords that feature the words “walking shoes” and “comfortable”.
Thus, you might want to consider outsourcing the content creation task to a native speaker who can do both keyword research and writing.
When working with native speakers who will translate and create content:
- Clarify which pages or sections are vital for SEO.
- Give clear instructions or guidelines on how to use the keywords.
- Frequently review the translated page to check if it’s written correctly.
This way, you can assure your site users of grammatically-correct content and the use of words or terms that are commonly used by the region.
And speaking of content…
3. Write Specifically for the Region
People from another region might be searching for content that’s different from the ones currently posted on your website. In addition to keyword research, you’ll have to research the region or country you’re promoting your business.
Learn about their culture. Find out what drives their interests toward a business such as yours.
What common problems and issues are they dealing with and why are they searching for products that are similar to what you’re selling? What topics about your industry are of great interest to them?
Here are 5 helpful tips to keep in mind when creating content for a multilingual website:
- Use clear titles for your blogs and web pages.
- Include subheadings that best describe each section.
- Write in a simple, clear, and easy-to-understand manner.
- Provide useful information that’s relevant to the search queries of the users.
- Make navigation easy for your site users so that they’ll know the next steps to take.
You might not have to overhaul the content that’s currently on your website. However, you might have to run minor edits on a few pages and add more localized content as blogs.
The golden rule of creating high-quality content remains unchanged regardless of language or region:
Content must be unique, fresh, relevant, useful, engaging, and compelling enough to initiate your intended course of action.
4. Reworking Your Tags
Let’s include 2 more technical SEO techniques that can surely optimize your multilingual website for search. These techniques involve adding hreflang tags and translating metatags.
Hreflang tags are bits of code that inform search engines of the language a specific webpage is using. It will help Google distinguish your webpage by the language it’s written in.
Another benefit of hreflang tags is that it prevents the occurrence of duplicate content which is viewed as a red flag by search engines.
Adding hreflang tags is definitely a job for a professional web designer especially if your webpages are translated in more than 2 languages because the process is time-consuming.
Metatags are also small bits of code that help search engines understand what your website is all about. Therefore, it makes sense to translate the metadata to the language of the region you’re targeting.
It’s not a good idea to translate the metadata word-for-word. You must include the most searched-for keywords in the region in the revised metadata.
5. Use a Language Selector
A Language Selector allows the site user to switch the page to his preferred language.
This feature is particularly beneficial for e-commerce websites as it makes shopping easier and more convenient. Shoppers on an e-commerce website want to learn more about a product before buying it. He won’t purchase it if he can’t understand the product description.
Having a language selector will improve user experience and site usability. It can also help search engines understand what your website is all about.
In a world where the Internet connects regions across oceans, it’s possible for small businesses to grow in size and scale by clicking with potential buyers and customers in other regions.
Check your website or social media analytics. You might be surprised to find some visitors coming from far-off places that you never thought would be interested in your content.
Having a multilingual website for your business is a smart, strategic move to grow your business globally. The investment will be worth it because you’ll be able to maximize the potential of your business.
If you’re interested in taking your business to the world stage, give us a call now. It’s never too late to start targeting foreign markets because there are always opportunities on the Internet.
But your multilingual website has to be properly optimized for search.
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