I think we have to live in a country or region where there is more than one official language to understand the importance of linguistic impact. Canada Posses 2 official languages and who knows one day, perhaps some will be added in the future.
In Quebec, Montreal and in Ottawa we can feel in our exchanges, restaurant or business this impact. This is however less noticeable in the central provinces. While traveling, we see the influence of using a language or another on hospitality, openness, and often on a particular demand as insignificant it may be.
On the Web, it’s exactly the same, except that you are not directly speaking with your visitor unless in chat mode. The website becomes the only way to reach individuals in their own language on the web.
It takes no extensive studies to realize that a visitor prefers to visit a website in its natural language. His interest is raised to not attempt to decode the text and indications and foremost, he feels privileged.
The local factor
Local influence of a language in the development of a business and its marketing can not be ignored. Although many acts by “obligation” because the the law states it, the local factor can hurt you as much as propel you into a total success.
We must not take lightly the translation of a website and even less trust free tools or online tools. Have you ever clicked on a link “translate this page”?
If you understood something it’s probably because you know somewhat of the language in which it is translated. Try it and you will see by yourself. Online translation tools are far from professionalism to rely on them to propel your business.
In Quebec, we must follow some laws on the web by the guidance of the Office Québécois de la langue Française. How to do web advertising, communications and all the rules for employers and workers are available.
Outside Quebec and Canada? Learn about the state laws in your area or country.
The target audience
You must determine what audience you are targeting with your multilingual website. If you are in Quebec and decide to offer a Japanese translation on your site, is that something specific will take you to it. You do not offer 18 languages on your website unless you have an international company that has branches in all these countries, or that your company is globally open as would be an online dating website.
Even after your site is translated , multilingual site is not something “easy” to develop. You will need to invest time, money and human resources to maintain and verify the information.
Google Translation Tool does not offer the quality that you would expect to translate a page. You will have to look at it manually to be sure that no disparities in your communications is present.
A language is an identity and it is highly valuable for an individual. You should be part of providing a great relationship with your customers based on their identities.
Checking for mistakes
The verification of the original text by a specialist should be your path in order to have a good quality of words and sentences. It is necessary to check the spelling mistakes, the fluidity of the text and its position in the document.
We must do the same in other languages and especially understand the particularities. An expression can return a negative image when translated into another language. To minimize impact on your brand or business, be aware of that.
To get real benefits of a multilingual site, you must look at the current structure of your site, its limitations and its functions. Not all websites allows easy integration of another language.
We must therefore make the best possible choice in the situation. If you already have 1000 pages to be translated, it will not happen without effort and without costs. The same if you build an online store with thousands of products.
Site analysis and basic decisions
You can not put multiple languages into a single page. In fact, you can do it but it will penalize you in the search results.
Google tends to determine in wich language is a page. To do this, either the page is referenced by a particular language tag, or it is in a clearly identified in a language folder.
If you put several translations in one page it’s difficult for the search engine robot to properly identify the language. It will result in no indexing your page in most cases.
You can take several directions:
a) A site pointing to a language: http://www.monsite.fr
b) a subdomain: http://fr.mondomaine.com
c) a folder: http://www.mondomaine.com/fr/
d) a flag in the URL: http://www.mondomaine.com/?lang=fr
The choice is very personal at this stage although there are better choices than others. Choices A and B requires you to have 2 website structures. This can be tedious to have to interact in multiple platforms. You have to invest a lot of time by taking this direction and you will need to duplicate common tasks such as site updates.
The choice C, seems most suitable for most web masters as long as your website accepts that kind of structure. The choice D, though less good in appearance, if well integrated into the website will be just as effective.
The choice D is mainly used when there is automation engines in a website or external modules ( api ). If your page tags are referenced by the web developer, you can trust this choice like any other.
The main language
You need to determine what language the site will appear to users. There are several tools that can detect the language of a browser, but in a context where many want to protect themselves with proxies and vpn, these geographical analyzers do not provide what we expect from them.
Take your decision according to your experience with your customers, legislation or characteristics of your area, what language is most suitable to serve your visitors on your website.
Do not just translate keywords from French to English for example. Search the most relevant and exact keywords used in English for what you want to rank.
The benefits of a multilingual website are:
1. An enhancement of your competitiveness as you enter an enlarged circle on the market;
2. You earn reputation, because adding support in multiple languages means a human investment;
3. Opening more opportunities because it connects you with people from everywhere.
Put in practice
We suggest you use the services of a professional SEO and web designer to transform your existing site in a multilingual website. There are many factors to consider and impact on your SEO, especially when changing the URL structure of your website.
Our technicians are available for you anytime!