6 Steps To Build A Multilingual Website
The main goal of any business is to sell its products or services and generate profit. One way to reach this goal is by reaching a wider audience.
There are many marketing strategies you can use to achieve that, and one of them is building a multilingual website. When your site is in multiple languages, you can communicate more effectively with visitors and customers.
Besides reaching a wider audience, there are other good reasons you may want your website to be multilingual.
They include improving your brand image, search engine optimisation (SEO), reducing bounce rates, and building a competitive leg over other businesses within your niche.
This article will guide you on the simple steps to build a website that visitors can access in various languages and boost your business’ geographical reach, diversity, and inclusivity.
1 – Identify and define your language goals
The first step is identifying the languages you want for your audience. You need to consider the geographical locations you’re interested in reaching and the available budget.
You need to decide early on in the project if you’ll hire a translator or invest in translation tools or apps. For example, an app helps site owners add languages to Shopify instantly and effortlessly. It detects and translates store content.
Other apps may not work the same way, so there’s a need to find reputable translation tools that will work for your site.
The point is to identify the direction you want to take when defining your language goal. Here are some questions that can help you decide on the language goals and to create measurable targets:
- Is your target a particular region, or do you only need common languages
- Is the region a good market for your products?
- How many languages do you plan to translate your website to?
- Do you need to hire translators, or are translation tools good enough?
2 – Pick your domain strategy
There are two approaches to building a multilingual website: a subdomain, subdirectories or a different domain strategy.
This means you can choose between building a website on a single domain and linking it to other languages or building separate domains hosting versions of your web content in various languages.
Both of these strategies have their benefits and drawbacks. For example, the subdomain/subdirectory strategy is more cost-effective because you won’t need to pay for many URLs and domains. Google’s best practices for multilingual SEO also favour it.
If you go by the different domain approach, you pay a higher price and will need to manage multiple domains, which can be pretty challenging.
3 – Choose your software
You need a Content Management System (CMS) to help you create, update, and manage your multilingual web content more easily.
There are two types of CMSs: those inbuilt multilingual features and those where you’ll need to install a plug-in. However, the most important thing is ensuring that your software will serve your needs and budget.
4 – Translate your web content
The next crucial step in the process will be to translate the contents of your site. This is where you employ the approach you chose in your goals, where you either use professional translators or online translation tools.
You want to ensure that you translate the website to make contextual sense and be engaging to gain the benefits of translation, including increased web traffic.
Sometimes, not everything will get translated when translating content from one language to another.
Ensure you haven’t overlooked any part of your site and the visual content. The visual content needs to match the context language you’re translating your site to.
It would be best to consider where to locate your selection menu for visitors to switch languages easily.
Whether you choose to place the menu at the top or bottom of the page, ensure that it’s visible and easily navigable.
While you can use flags to indicate the language, the best option will be to use text instead. Typically, flags represent countries and not a language.
6 – Optimise content for SEO
It’ll be useless to spend time and resources building a multilingual site that visitors won’t know exists. You need to go a step further and optimise your site with multilingual SEO to attract traffic from the regions you need.
Conduct proper keyword research for languages on your site, which you can achieve with keyword research tools.
You should also not forget to use hreflang tags properly, which tell Google of a targeted language on a web page.
Alternatively, you can set International Targeting on the said search engine’s search console for each of your languages.
Building a multilingual website isn’t easy, and it involves careful planning and execution. But it’s achievable if you take the proper steps.
A multilingual website will help you reach a wider audience and improve customer experience and satisfaction, lowering bounce rates and helping you maintain an advantage over your competitors.