Building A Multi-Language Website

In today’s diverse world, there’s a growing need for multi-language web pages. Especially for many Canadian small businesses, having a web page in English and French is almost required. However, managing multiple sites can add complexity to already stressed resources. But the rewards of reaching your audience in the language they prefer is worth the effort. So to help streamline the process, we’ve put together some tips for creating multi-language websites.

Building A Multi-Language Website

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

If you’re thinking of adding multi-language functionality to your existing website, you’ll want to take the time to prepare appropriately. Without getting stuck in a paralysis by analysis situation, have your team set aside a week to comb through your current site fixing any problems, updating old or broken links, updating SEO, etc. Start from a good place before expanding into a different language.

Use a Sub-Domain URL

You have a few options for setting up your multi-language web pages. One option is a Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD). This is good if you have offices in the country you’re targeting and you have the resources to manage two websites. ccTLD have URLs like http://www.website.fr, and http://www.website.es.

However, the simplest structure to separate sites and products is to use a Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) to give you URLs like website.com/ca/fr, or website.com/ca/en, etc.). gTLDs are less expensive with fewer restrictions than ccTLDs because it’s easier to set up and allows you to consolidate all your SEO activities into a single domain. gTLDs also allow you to use Google Webmaster Tools to geo-target different subcategories.

Avoid Automated Language Translators

If you work on SEO, you know why it makes sense to use the native speaker language than to rely on a translating tool like Google Translate. Use the copy and SEO in your native language, then a marketing professional with SEO and messaging experience through a service like Upwork, to do the translation into the new language using their native language.  Have them also provide you with SEO for targeting your content, products and services.

If you want a quick-fix until this process is complete, embed the Google Translate widget into your current page as a quick stop-gap measure. Just be sure you don’t stop here.

Starting From Scratch

If you’re just getting started creating a web page and you’re targeting multiple languages, you’ll want to start with a website builder that easily enables multi-language websites. Luckily there are many that are available, often requiring little to no coding experience and many that are free. If you’re on WordPress, there are several plug-ins to help you build a page in another language. If you like something a little simpler, Squarespace allows you to quickly drag and drop elements into its builder and they have several multi-language templates like Marquee, Pacific, or Adirondack to get you started.

Creating multi-language websites or functionality doesn’t have to be difficult with the right tips and tools. Share with us some of your favorite in the comments below!

Image: Photospin

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