With globalization and the rise of the internet, having a multilingual website has become increasingly important for businesses and organizations to reach wider audiences. Website builders provide an easy way to create and manage multilingual websites without needing to know how to code. In this guide, we’ll walk through the key considerations and steps for creating multilingual websites with popular website builders. This includes translating content, managing multiple languages, enabling language switching, localization for regional audiences, and optimizing for multilingual SEO. Follow this guide to build an effective multilingual presence that grows your global reach.
The Importance of Multilingual Websites
Having website content available in different languages provides many benefits:
- Expand your reach to international audiences that prefer to engage with content in their native language. This increases website traffic and brand awareness globally.
- Provide better user experience by serving content in the language visitors are most comfortable with. This improves engagement and conversion rates.
- Tap into new international markets and strengthen relationships with local communities. A multilingual website shows you respect and value different cultures.
- Gain higher visibility and search engine ranking in foreign markets by optimizing content for local languages and locations. This attracts more organic traffic.
- Stand out from the competition by being more accessible to global website visitors. A multilingual website signifies you can support global customers.
The alternative of only providing content in one language puts you at a disadvantage competitively and causes you to miss out on connecting with wider demographics.
Choosing Languages for Translation
Deciding which languages to translate your website into depends on your target markets and audience reach goals:
- Identify countries and regions that are most relevant for your business. Focus on languages with the greatest number of speakers in your key markets first.
- Consider emerging markets with growth opportunities even if smaller audiences currently. Supporting their language shows commitment.
- Look at your existing website analytics to see the breakdown of visitors by location and language. Translate to languages commonly used by your visitors first.
- Research your industry to see which languages competitors support. Match or exceed their language offerings.
- Evaluate languages of stakeholders in your community or customer base. Prioritize translating to languages they use.
- Assess languages used on social media channels where you have an audience presence. Cater to their language preferences.
- Consult with international employees or units of your organization to identify key languages they recommend.
Ideally provide content in 3-5 languages to start, then expand from there once your multilingual website strategy matures. Focus on languages that maximize your reach while keeping translation costs manageable.
Translating Website Content
For translating your website content into other languages, you have a few options:
- Hire professional translation services to have your content translated. This provides accurate high-quality translations but can be more costly.
- Use machine translation tools like Google Translate or DeepL to automatically translate. This has a lower cost but quality may suffer.
- Collaborate with bilingual employees or community members to assist with translations. This leverages internal resources.
- Employ a combination of professional and automated translation services. Use professionals for key content and automation for secondary pages.
When translating, properly convey the meaning and intent of text rather than direct word-for-word translations. Adapt content to be culturally relevant in each language and locale.
Also designate someone to review translations for quality, accuracy, and consistency before publishing live. Continuous proofreading helps refine multilingual content over time.
Managing Multiple Languages
With a website builder, you can create translated versions of pages and publish languages side-by-side. Here are tips for managing content in multiple languages:
- Duplicate existing pages and translate content in each language needed rather than starting from scratch. This expedites launching multilingual pages.
- Organize pages or sites into separate categories for each language. Assign page URLs and site structure accordingly.
- Maintain a consistent page name, URL, navigation, and content structure across all languages. This helps align translated versions of the same content.
- Reference the primary language when translating to replicate page structure. Reuse images/media across languages if visual elements do not require localization.
- Review translations across pages and languages for terminology consistency, branding continuity, and localization. Ensure cohesive user experience.
- Update multilingual content simultaneously whenever you make edits to original pages. Keep all language versions in sync.
- Leverage translation management systems to streamline sending content for translation and republishing translated versions.
Thoughtful content planning and organization empowers managing and scaling languages more efficiently.
Enabling Language Switching
Make it easy for visitors to toggle between languages on your site with navigation language switching:
- Use website builder features to add a language selector, dropdown menu, or toggle buttons to page headers or footers.
- Clearly label languages using both country flag icons and translated language names when possible.
- Ensure language switching functionality remains visible as users navigate across all pages of the site.
- By default display pages in the detected visitor language if available to minimize switching needs.
- Maintain the same page layout and interface when switching languages for usability. Only translate actual text content.
- For larger sites, implement language URLs like “domain.com/es/” to navigate versions by language.
- If using subdomains like “es.domain.com”, redirect visitors automatically or include language selection.
- Allow switching languages at any point and prevent dead-ends. Offer toggling on error or unavailable pages.
Enable effortless language switching with website builder tools. Test across pages and devices to ensure functionality remains consistent.
Localization for Regions
Adapt your multilingual website content to connect better with local visitors in each target region:
- Tailor examples and references in content to be relevant to the region’s culture and common knowledge. Avoid idioms that may not translate well.
- Adjust formatting of dates, times, addresses, and phone numbers to conventions commonly used in a region.
- Incorporate local currencies, units of measure, and numerals formatted appropriately for the audience.
- Ensure imagery and colors will be perceived positively and align with local aesthetics.
- Modify navigation and menus to use accepted taxonomy and terminology in the region.
- Follow local laws, regulations, and compliance for web accessibility, privacy, and required disclosures.
- Review regional SEO and marketing best practices to optimize conversion rates.
While maintaining brand consistency, localize content across elements like imagery, examples, formats, colors, terms, and structure.
Optimizing for Multilingual SEO
Search engine optimization for multilingual sites involves making content accessible across languages and locations:
- Research keywords and phrases for each language to incorporate into pages targeting those regions.
- Include alt text and image titles in multiple languages using HTML attributes.
- Leverage hreflang tags in page source code to indicate alternate language versions of pages.
- Submit XML or HTML sitemaps with translated versions of pages for indexing.
- Add metadata like title tags, descriptions, and structured data in each language.
- Get a separate top-level domain for each language and country-specific domains if targeting regions.
- Link to geo-specific versions of pages using geographic rel tags.
- Avoid duplicate content penalties by using canonical tags if reusing any un-translated content.
- Enable geotargeting in Google Search Console for gaining visibility in local searches.
Optimizing technical elements on multilingual pages signals relevancy to search engines for each language and locale.
Building a multilingual website is a smart strategy for engaging global audiences and expanding your reach. Using a user-friendly website builder simplifies the process of launching and managing translated content. Focus on core languages for your target markets first. Localize content and optimize for regional relevance. With the blueprint covered in this guide, you have the foundation to make your website accessible and engaging to more users worldwide.