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Multi-language Websites

We get occasional requests from clients to create multi-language websites or to adapt existing content into additional languages. We love the idea of sharing content across the world, and of opening new markets for our ecommerce clients. But there is a fair amount of planning to make this work well.

The translation itself needs to be spot on. It’s definitely important to have a speaker fluent in the translation language review the translations. You want to make sure the context and not just the literal words make the language jump.

The best way to deliver this translated content is often with language specific pages. However, dealing with these pages creates a few technical hurdles to overcome.

First, you want the search engines to feed the correct pages to the right viewer. If your page is ranking in English but the person searching for your site is speaking German you, want them to find the German version of your page.

Next, you may want to target different regions that use the same language. For example, French is an official language in Belgium, Benin, Burkina, Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, France, Haiti, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Togo, and Vanuatu.

Finally, there can be negative SEO impacts of feeding the same content on multiple pages. Unless Google understands that you’re feeding the content to the user in their native tongue they may reduce your ranking.

Correctly implemented hreflang architecture can assist with all of these issues. Yoast recently wrote a great article on hreflang support and how to implement it on your site.

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