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20 Best Practices for Multilingual Websites

Only 18% of the world’s population speaks English; 1.5 Billion out of 7.8 billion speak English, so a multilingual website will help you reach a wider audience isn’t an exaggeration.

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If you follow some best practices for multilingual websites, creating one would be a more straightforward process for you.

The key to creating a successful multilingual website is optimizing the website for multiple languages. A website that is not multilingual can be at a disadvantage compared to its competitors. However, a multilingual website can reach a larger audience with its translated content.

Suppose you have a travel website and want to target both English and Spanish speakers. The first step is to ensure that your website can be translated into multiple languages. This can be done by using a translation plugin or hiring a professional translator.

Once your website is available in multiple languages, you need to optimize it for search engines. This means creating separate pages for each language and targeting the right keywords. It would help if you also created backlinks from other websites in the same language.

20 best practices for multilingual websites

01. Use a Translation Plugin

Many translation plugins can help you translate your website into multiple languages if you’re using WordPress. Some of the most popular plugins are WPML and Polylang.

When using a translation plugin, don’t forget to:

  • Choose a plugin compatible with your WordPress theme: Not all WordPress themes are compatible with all plugins. If you’re unsure which plugin to choose, ask your theme developer for recommendations.
  • Configure the plugin properly: Most translation plugins have a lot of settings that need to be configured. Make sure you take the time to configure the plugin properly so that it works correctly.
  • Translate all your content: Don’t forget to translate all your website content, including the pages, posts, menus, and widgets.

02. Hire a Professional Translator

To ensure that your website is translated accurately, you should hire a professional translator. An experienced translator will be able to translate your content into multiple languages and can also help you with the SEO of your multilingual website.

When hiring a professional translator, make sure to:

  • Choose a translator who is a native speaker of the language: It’s essential to choose a translator who is a native speaker of the language. This way, you can ensure that the translation is accurate and natural-sounding.
  • Choose a translator with experience: Experience is essential when it comes to translations. Make sure to choose a translator who has experience translating websites.
  • Ask for samples: Before hiring a translator, ask for samples of their work. This way, you can be sure they can translate your website accurately.

03. Create Separate Pages for Each Language

Creating separate pages for each language is essential when creating a multilingual website. This way, search engines will be able to index your website correctly, and people will be able to find the correct version of your website.

04. Target the Right Keywords

If you want your multilingual website to be successful, you need to target the right keywords. This means doing keyword research for each language separately.

When doing keyword research, make sure to:

  • Use the right tools: There are many tools available that can help you with your keyword research. Some of the most popular tools are Google AdWords Keyword Planner and SEMrush.
  • Target long-tail keywords: They are usually easier to rank for and can be more specific to your product or service.
  • Use different keyword forms: Don’t forget to use different keyword forms, such as singular and plural forms, when doing your research.

05. Optimize Your Website for Search Engines

Once you’ve created your multilingual website and translated all your content, it’s time to optimize it for search engines. This means creating separate pages for each language and targeting the right keywords.

When optimizing your website for search engines, make sure to:

  • Use the right plugins: As we mentioned before, many WordPress plugins can help you with your SEO. Some popular plugins are Yoast SEO and Rank Math.
  • Optimize your titles and descriptions: Make sure to write unique and keyword-rich titles and descriptions for each page of your website.
  • Add alt text to your images: Don’t forget to add alt text to your images. This will help search engines index your website correctly, and people will be able to find your website when they are searching for images.

06. Use the Right Domain Name

When you’re creating a multilingual website, it’s essential to choose the right domain name. This means selecting a domain name that is relevant to your business and easy to remember.

Some tips for choosing the right domain name are:

  • Use keywords: If you want people to be able to find your website easily, you should use keywords in your domain name
  • Keep it short and simple: A shorter domain name is usually easier to remember than a long one. And, if you can, try to avoid using hyphens or numbers.
  • Make it easy to pronounce: If people can’t pronounce your domain name, they will not remember it. So, try to choose a domain name that is easy to pronounce.

07. Choose a flexible website template

When you’re creating a multilingual website, it’s crucial to choose a flexible website template. This way, you’ll be able to add new languages and pages to your website easily.

WordPress themes like Elementor and Beaver Builder are the most popular flexible website templates.

However, when choosing a template, make sure that it is:

  • Mobile-friendly: With more and more people using mobile devices to browse the internet, it’s essential to ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
  • SEO-friendly: A good template will also be SEO-friendly. This means optimizing your website for search engines will be easy.
  • Easy to use: Choose a template that is easy to use. This way, you’ll be able to add new content and pages to your website easily.

08. Use a Content Management System

You should use a Content Management System (CMS) to create and manage a multilingual website effortlessly. A CMS will allow you to add new content and pages to your website easily. It will also make it easy to manage your website’s translations. Some of the most popular Content Management Systems are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

09. Cater to different browsing habits

When creating a multilingual website, you must cater to different browsing habits. This means understanding how people in different countries browse the internet.

For example, people in China tend to use search engines like Baidu and Sogou. And, people in Russia tend to use search engines like Yandex and Mail.ru. So, if you want to ensure that your website is accessible to people in different countries, you need to optimize it for suitable search engines.

10. Use transcreation when necessary

To appeal to a global audience, you may need to use transcreation. Transcreation is the process of adapting content to a different culture. You’ll need to consider things like slang, idioms, and cultural references.
For example, if you’re translating your website into French, you’ll need to consider that the French tend to be more formal than people in other countries.

11. Don’t forget about voice search

With the rise of voice-activated assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, optimizing your website for voice search is essential.
When people use voice search to find information online, they tend to speak more naturally than when they type into a search engine. So, you’ll need to ensure that your website’s content is easily understood when it’s spoken aloud.

12. Use hreflang tags

To ensure that your website’s content is accessible to people in different countries, you need to use hreflang tags. Hreflang tags are HTML tags that tell search engines what type of your website’s content is meant for which audience.

For example, if you have a website in English and French, you would use hreflang tags to tell Google that the English version of your website is meant for people in the United States and the French version is meant for people in France

13. Use a language selector

To make it easy for people to find the correct website version, you should use a language selector. A language selector is a drop-down menu on your website that allows people to choose the language they want to view your website in.

14. Customize graphics and images on multilingual websites

Customizing your graphics and images is another way to make your website more accessible to a global audience. For example, you can use country-specific images on your website. Or, you can use images that represent different cultures.

15. Use a .global domain name

If you want your website to be accessible to people worldwide, you should use a .global domain name. A .global domain name is a top-level domain that represents the global internet community.

16. Don’t use automatic translation

You should not use automatic translation if you’re not a native speaker of the language you’re translating your website into. This is because automatic translation can often produce poor results.

It’s best to hire a professional translator who is a native speaker of the language you’re translating into. That way, you can ensure that your website’s content is accurate and easy to understand.

17. Make sure your website loads quickly

People all over the world expect websites to load quickly. So, if you want your website to be successful, you must ensure it loads quickly.

You can do a few things to improve your website’s load time. For example, you can optimize images and use a content delivery network (CDN).

18. Provide simple language switching options

You should provide simple language switching options to make it easy for people to switch between languages on your website. For example, you can use a drop-down menu or flags representing different languages.

19. Design for languages that use a different script

If you’re designing your website for languages that use a different script, you need to take some special considerations into account. For example, you need to make sure that your website’s fonts are legible in the language you’re designing for.

20. Consider cultural differences

Finally, it would be best to consider cultural differences when designing your website for a global audience. For example, colors can have different meanings in different cultures.

So, if you’re using color on your website, you should ensure that the colors you use are appropriate for your target audience’s culture.

Why It’s Important to Optimize Your Website for Multiple Languages

As you can see, there are several things you need to keep in mind when you’re designing a multilingual website. By following the best practices for multilingual websites, you can be sure that your website is accessible to people worldwide.

If you want your website to be successful, you must ensure it’s accessible to as many people as possible. And by following the best practices for multilingual websites, you can be sure that your website is accessible to people worldwide.

Some of the other reasons why it’s important to optimize your website for multiple languages include:

01. You’ll be able to reach a larger audience

If you make your website accessible to people in multiple languages, you’ll be able to reach a larger audience. This is because more people speak various languages than there are people who speak just one language.

02. You’ll be able to tap into new markets

By making your website accessible to people in multiple languages, you’ll be able to tap into new markets. This is because you’ll be able to reach people who speak different languages.

03. You’ll be able to improve your search engine rankings

If you make your website accessible to people in multiple languages, you’ll be able to improve your search engine rankings. This is because search engines will be able to index your website in numerous languages.

04. You’ll be able to improve your customer satisfaction

With a multilingual website, you’ll be able to improve your customer satisfaction. This is because you’ll be able to provide customer service in multiple languages. For example, if you have a customer service representative who speaks various languages, they’ll be able to help people in different languages.

05. You’ll be able to improve your brand image

During the past few years, there has been an increasing trend of people wanting to do business with companies that are seen as global brands.

By making your website accessible to people in multiple languages, you’ll be able to improve your brand image. This is because people will see your company as a global brand accessible to people worldwide.

06. You’ll be able to increase your sales

As you can see, many benefits come with making your website accessible to people in multiple languages. And, one of the most important benefits is that you’ll be able to increase your sales.

This is because you’ll be able to reach a larger audience and tap into new markets. So, if you’re looking for ways to increase your sales, you should consider making your website accessible to people in multiple languages.

07. You’ll be able to save money

Another benefit of making your website accessible to people in multiple languages is that you’ll be able to save money.

This is because you won’t have to spend money translating your website into different languages. Instead, you can use automatic translation services, which are much cheaper.

08. You’ll be able to improve your competitive advantage

During the past few years, there has been an increasing trend of companies making their websites accessible to people in multiple languages.

By making your website accessible to people in multiple languages, you’ll be able to improve your competitive advantage. This is because you’ll be able to reach a larger audience and tap into new markets.

09. You’ll be able to make your website more user-friendly

If you make your website accessible to people in multiple languages, you’ll be able to make your website more user-friendly. This is because people will be able to navigate your website in their language.

10. You’ll be able to reduce your bounce rate

When people visit a website in a language they don’t understand; they’re likely to leave the website immediately. This is called a “bounce.” If you make your website accessible to people in multiple languages, you’ll be able to reduce your bounce rate. This is because people will be able to understand your website and stay on it for longer.

Conclusion

As you can see, several benefits come with making your website accessible to people in multiple languages. If you’re looking for ways to improve your website, you should consider making it accessible to people in numerous languages.

Need Help with Building a Multilingual Website?

If you need help with building a multilingual website, I can help. With years of experience in the industry, I know how to make a website accessible to people in multiple languages. Contact me today, and let’s talk about your project.

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