If you want to reach customers around the world, a multilingual website is essential. But, creating one can be tricky. There are so many things to think about, from how to structure your URLs, to the best way to organize your content by language.
Before you begin putting together your multilingual website, it’s important to consider several factors. Which languages will comprise the bulk of content on your website? Which website translation services should you choose? While English might seem like an obvious choice given how widely spoken it is, many other languages deserve equal consideration when deciding what should appear most prominently on a site.
What languages will be used in marketing materials related to a particular product or service? A lot of companies choose to go multilingual here as well—in fact, some brands even use specific hashtags across social media platforms, like Instagram and Twitter, (e.g., #multilanguage) so users can find them easily regardless of whether they speak just one language or multiple ones.
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about building a multilingual website: from choosing the right CMS and working with translators, right down to ensuring search engines can easily and correctly crawl your site.
1. Choose Your CMS
Once you’ve decided to build a multilingual website, the first step is choosing your content management system (CMS). This serves as your website’s foundation—it provides the structure that makes it possible for you to easily publish content in multiple languages.
Since there are so many different CMS platforms, it’s helpful to understand what each one offers before deciding which one best fits your needs. For example, some can handle multilingual websites better than others; others might be more user-friendly for non-technical users; or, some may require more technical know-how than others. Also, some may not offer all of the features or functions necessary for building a truly international site.
2. Choose Your URL Structure
The next step is to decide how you want to structure your URLs. There are many different options here, including:
1. Use a single domain for all languages. This means that if you have a website called ‘http://www.example.com,’ it’ll be available in every language you support.
2. Use a subdomain for each language (i.e., www.espanol-example-com). The advantage of this method is that it’s more secure than using subfolders because there’s less chance of having duplicate content issues when crawling through multiple languages on the same server. However, this can get confusing since users have to know which URL they need based on where they’re located and what language they speak.
3. Use directories within your main directory instead of subdomains (i.e., /Espanol/index2html_spanish_portuguese), but this isn’t recommended, unless you already have separate physical servers or web hosts set up specifically for each site’s needs. This way, you won’t overload them with too many requests at once. which might cause slow response times or even cause them to crash altogether due to overloading resources.
3. Create The Content
Create a translation workflow that’ll help you manage multiple languages on your site. You can do this by creating some sort of master document in Google Docs or another similar platform, then setting up folders where translators can submit their work once they’ve finished working on a particular page/paragraph/sentence.
A good translation workflow includes:
1. A documented style guide to help translators understand how to translate content into particular languages. Style guides can be as simple as a few bullet points or as elaborate as an online resource with detailed explanations of each element of your content structure.
2. A glossary of relevant terminology that you use in both the source language(s) and target language(s). This ensures all parties know exactly how certain words should be understood when translated into another language, and it eliminates potential misunderstandings later down the line if there are any differences in meaning between source-language terms and target-language equivalents.
Use a translation service to maintain consistency throughout all translations. If there’s one thing you don’t want happening with any kind of website or app, it’s having confusing translations pop up here and there, especially if those errors occur in important places like search results. Translation services allow you to easily check over all translated content before publishing it so that nothing slips through the cracks during the process.
4. Add Hreflang Attributes And Separate Sitemaps
Hreflang attributes are a great way to tell search engines which language a page is in, and also to let them know that you have multiple versions of the same page for different languages. For example, if you have French and English versions of your site, then you can use hreflang attributes so that Google knows which one to rank higher in search results.
It’s important to keep in mind that your website has a separate sitemap for each language. The easiest way to set up your site is by using separate sitemaps for each language, and this will be the case in most cases.
Multilingual websites are a great way to reach customers globally. They allow businesses to communicate with their customers in their native language, which is essential for companies trying to grow internationally. The process isn’t always easy, but maintaining a multilingual website doesn’t have to be complicated if you follow these steps carefully and make sure everything works seamlessly together.