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Business needs multilingual website

Five reasons why your business needs a multilingual website

Revised: May 2021

If, as a business, you’re looking to expand your client base, launching multilingual variants of your main website could be one of the most efficient ways to do so. Whilst there’s no denying that translating your site into another language, or in many cases, numerous different languages, is a time-consuming task, it can also be a very rewarding one.

As such, here you’ll find five reasons why we believe translating into other languages should be right at the top of your marketing department’s ‘to do’ list.

1. Not all of your potential clients speak English

Whilst the internet certainly started its life as an innovation which was dominated by English speakers, and the early chapter of the web saw very few other languages represented, times are changing.

We’re now 26 years on, and whilst English still accounts for more than 50% of the content online, we see other languages growing at a fairly rapid rate. As of 2015, the top five languages online are:

  • English – 54.9%
  • Russian – 6.1%
  • German – 5.3%
  • Spanish – 4.8%
  • Chinese – 4.4%

We could almost guarantee that, for the majority of businesses, there are potential clients who don’t speak English as a first language and that, as a result, a conversion from these users would be far more likely if they were served a variant in their native language.

2. The adoption of the Internet is growing in other countries

Further to the above, it’s also interesting to note that, whilst the usage of the internet in the traditional ‘strong holds’ of the UK, USA, Germany and Sweden appears to have hit a peak and levelled off, in the likes of France, Hong Kong, Italy and Japan, usage continues to grow substantially year on year.

This, as such, presents strong opportunities to develop a long-term plan to introduce different language variants of your main website on a rolling basis which is in-line with the adoption of the internet in countries where growth has historically been a little slower, like Egypt and Brazil, where 46 and 29% of their respective populations don’t have an internet connection

3. You’ll struggle to launch in other territories without one

Let’s say you’re an established online retailer, here in the UK, who is looking to launch in a new territory, for example France. You may well have put in place the infrastructure and logistics to facilitate orders, however without a website which has been developed to specifically serve your new target market, in their native language, you’ll likely struggle to generate the traction you were hoping for.

Trust plays a large part in a consumer making a purchase online and it’s important that you do all you can to build this up and present yourself and your business in the very best light. As such, by serving an English-only version of your website across all territories, you’re likely alienating those who aren’t as comfortable buying online as others and, as a result, losing out on the sale to a competitor, even in instances when you have a far stronger USP.

In fact, it has previously been reported that “75 percent of Internet users prefer not to make important purchasing decisions unless the information about the product is presented in their native language.

If at any stage in the near future your business plan is to roll out into new territories, you need to start considering a multilingual website now, looking at having professionally translated copy put together by a native speaker.

If you use assets such as video on the website, it’s important that you also consider your options for video translation to ensure no areas are left in the original language; something which breaks continuity.

4. It can be a quick win from a search engine marketing perspective

If you already have a website which ranks well on the search engines, launching in different languages could well prove to be a quick win in terms of generating traffic from new markets.

Google and the other main search engines continue to rank websites based upon both relevancy and authority and if you’re already ranking well across English terms, you can be confident that you have the authority box ticked. With this in mind, translating your website into another language will see the relevancy box ticked against translated search terms and, if elements such as the correct geo-targeting tags are implemented correctly, there’s no reason why you couldn’t see a strong increase in organic search traffic relatively quickly, using the site’s overall authority as the main ranking boost within the new market.

5. The competition haven’t yet got one

The best business brains are always spending time analysing what the competition are doing and looking at ways in which they can better their efforts. As such, it’s interesting to take note that, at this stage, with the exception of big brands, very few websites are multilingual.

It was reported back in 2013 in a survey by Content Marketing World that “over 60% of global marketers do not have a strategy for multilingual content marketing” and two years on, we see very little to demonstrate that these figures have changed much. Taking this into account, launching a multilingual website presents significant opportunities for you to better what the competition are doing and, over the coming months, develop a full-scale multilingual content strategy off the back of it.

Don’t forget that localising and adapting your website into another language will demonstrate to your audience that you’re a trustworthy, reliable, and culturally in-tune brand, which will undoubtedly set you aside from competitors who haven’t taken the same steps. 

There’s plenty of research to justify the decision to roll out a multilingual website and the above looks at only five main points, however, they’re ones which we believe can convince even the strongest doubters.

Adopting a multilingual approach to online marketing activities can, if implemented correctly, be one of the most cost effective ways to grow a brand or business online, and whilst 60% continue to ignore this as a top priority, the opportunities on offer are almost endless.