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Multilingual Website - Things To Consider

Published on March 18, 2013
Tags: Internet Communication

Thanks to the internet, smartphones, tablets and other technological advancements and devices, the world seems to be getting smaller by the day.  People in Asia can just as quickly get in touch with you as people in the UK. Even if you’re a small business, this means that you have to take other countries – and therefore, other languages – into consideration when creating a website. Making your site accessible to a wide range of countries can help build your brand and increase profits considerably – if you do it right. Many things can get lost in translation, and the language barrier is just as present online as anywhere else.

So, aside from the actual coding and building of the site (which professional web development companies can help you with), what are the main things to consider when creating a multilingual website? Here are just a few pointers.
1. Be Aware Of Cultural And Language Differences
If you want to attract customers from all over the world, you’re going to have to offer your website in a variety of different languages, but make sure you take cultural differences into consideration. For example, using one version of Spanish to appeal to both Spanish and Latin American people is showing a lack of knowledge concerning the intricacies of the two languages – they’re not the same, and a Spaniard could be insulted by Latin American Spanish and vice versa. It’s the same with China – with such a big and important market, you should know the differences between the languages spoken in various different parts, as mixing them up could cost you business.
2. Take SEO Differences Into Account
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is an invaluable tool for marketing your business online, but care needs to be taken when you’re reaching out to a world market. You can get programs that will translate your content into several different languages (although you’ll need to make sure that it is done properly and won’t insult foreign businesses with a seemingly poor grasp of their native tongue), but you can’t assume that popular keywords will be translated correctly. Instead, use Google Trends to match the English word against popular translations. 
3. Do Research Into Social Media
While it’s true that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are used the world over – and used to promote businesses and market products, as well – you shouldn’t assume that all of your potential customers will be signed up to them. For example, the governments of some Asian countries block websites such as Facebook, so trying to reach out to, say, potential Chinese customers using popular social media probably won’t be money well spent. Instead, spend a little time doing research into the country’s own similar social websites, or adjust your marketing budget to accommodate the differences in internet usage in different countries.
Creating a multilingual website or international brand can be a difficult and time-consuming process, but if you do it right, it could be the best move your business ever makes.

By Chelsey Evans

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