The Internet is a global network that allows people from all over the world to connect to each other. Any person from any location can access any website with a couple of clicks. Naturally, international websites are available in multiple languages as they target visitors from all over the world. Should your website be available in more than one language as well? In this article, we will discuss why you may want to have additional languages on your site, and what challenges you may encounter in the process of translating your content.

Five reasons to translate your website

Adding even one more language will allow you to reach millions of people.
  • Reach more people. A multilingual website will allow you to reach more people. This doesn’t necessarily mean people from other countries – a few languages can be spoken within one country as well. Users often visit websites only in the language they speak, so you can expand your audience if you add one or more additional languages.
  • Boost your sales. You can expand your client base and boost your sales. Any additional languages you add will allow you to reach new markets. It is more likely for people to order if they see content in their own language. Studies show that people value localization and they are more inclined to buy a product from a localized website no matter if the company is global or local. In addition, multilingual content will give your website a chance to appear in search engine results for a wider range of keywords. As a result, the site will receive more organic traffic, which can turn into more sales.
Source: CSA Research
  • Target specific regions. Having a multilingual website is the best way to target specific regions. Whether it will be a state/province within a country where a different language is spoken, or a number of countries that speak the same or similar languages, you can easily target them by adding a new language on your site. Your content will appear in search engine results in these regions due to the keywords in this language.
  • Improve user experience. Customers will most definitely appreciate it if they can browse your content in their native language or a language they understand. This way you can easily improve customer satisfaction. It will be more likely for people to stay on the site, which will reduce its bounce rate. It will also be more likely for them to return to the site in the future. You will show them you have gone the extra mile to make their browsing experience better.
Discover more ways to improve the user experience on your website.
  • Build trust. People will trust you more if they see your website is available in their own language or a language they understand. They will not feel confused that they don’t understand something. Using a multilingual website can help you to improve your brand recognition as well – the more people trust you, the more they will recognize your brand name among others – in search engine results, directories, ads, etc. It is also more likely for them to share your site with friends or colleagues.


  • Content management. It may be difficult to maintain the content of two or more websites, as in essence, each language you add means having a separate website. Whenever you add or update content on your website, you should update it for any other language you support as well. If you cannot do that regularly, you should either not add the new content for that language, or you should copy the text in its original language. Either way, visitors will not see such a thing as being professional. Even if you do everything by the book, though, you may sometimes miss something, especially if you have more than a few languages.
Here is an example of a partially translated website.
  • Time and cost. There are various automated ways to translate the text on your website, but unless you want to risk publishing text that doesn’t make sense in the other languages, you should go through the translations manually. If you don’t know the language well, you may have to hire a professional translator. Such a thing takes time, and often money. If you update the site often, you will either have to delay each update to make sure that you have the content in all languages, or you should publish the new content only in one language at first, while you wait for the translations.
Full localization takes more than simply translating all texts.
  • Full localization. For many people, translating a website means simply translating all texts. This is only a part of the task, though. You should also localize units, currency and date format for every language you want to support. Using the same format across all language versions may not be appropriate. In addition, there may be phrases or idioms that are specific to one language and are difficult to translate into another.
  • Difficult for SEO. There are millions of websites out there, so achieving and maintaining good SEO ranking is not easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to boost one website so that it ranks well – keywords, blog posts, dedicated audience, speed optimization, and more. It will be very difficult to do the same thing for the other versions of the site – you may not have the resources, the competitor websites in other languages will probably be different, the keywords will be different, etc.

Choosing what languages to add

There are thousands of languages out there, and you cannot add all of them. You should choose the ones that you need the most. If you are not sure what they are, there are a few things to consider.

  • Establish goals. Do you want to expand to new markets, or do you want to reach more people within the same market? Do you need basic translation, or do you want a fully localized website? Once you have a clear idea what you want to do, it may be easier to choose the language(s) you want to add.
  • Consider your target audience. Is there anything specific in the area you want to reach in terms of language? Every language has its unique phrases. Even English, being a universal language, differs in the USA and in Australia, for example. Units and date formats are different as well. Right-to-left scripts will need considerably more customization. Select the language(s) you need depending on the people/area you want to target.
You should consider your target audience to make sure you choose the correct words.
  • Check traffic stats. Looking at what countries generate the most visits can give you an idea what languages you can add to make the browsing experience of your visitors more pleasant. Here, you will focus on improving the user experience of existing customers rather than trying to attract new ones. This is still an important factor for the success of any website.
  • Check the site's popularity. This is something subjective, but you can try to find web directories, forums or websites that list your site as being popular in some industry. You can then add the language of the directory/forum or the language of most of its users. Even if you don’t get much traffic from that country yet, this is an opportunity for expanding your client base.

Best practices

Now that you have selected one or a few languages to add, here are some best practices that you can follow to make sure that you translate your site the right way.

Top - a menu item switcher; bottom - a floating switcher.
  • Add a good language switcher. You will have some way of switching languages on the site in all cases. You should pay attention to the actual switcher, though. Unless you target specific countries, try not to use flags. If your website is available in Spanish, for example, it may not be appropriate to use the Spanish flag if most of your visitors are from South America. Of course, this isn’t a rule and there are exceptions.

    You should also consider if you will use a floating language switcher, or if you will add a menu item on top of the site. Usually, the switcher is on the right-hand side, but the exact position depends on the position of the rest of the content and on your preference. An alternative is to use autodetection software that will display a certain language based on the IP address of the visitors.
  • Test thoroughly. This is valid for any change on your website, and translations to other languages are not an exception. You should pay attention to any language version of the site as long words may break the layout. Sometimes you may have to change the wording of a sentence to make sure it fits, while keeping its original meaning.
  • Make sure all content is translated. This includes not only text, but also URLs, image names, meta tags, etc., whenever it is possible. Due to high translation costs or insufficient time, you may be tempted to leave some of the content in its original language. Of course, sometimes you may just miss something, especially if you have a lot of content/pages. Such untranslated content will look unprofessional, though, as it will seem your site is not completed. You can also unintentionally affect the search engine ranking of your website as you will have double content or inconsistent URLs/image names. This can be a problem especially if you use different domain names for the different languages.
Mixing languages does not look professional.
  • Maintain all languages. Translating a website is not a one-time task, and managing several languages is like managing several websites. All the money and efforts you have spent on adding more languages will be in vain if you keep adding new content only in the main language. People will see you do not maintain their preferred language, so they may get discouraged to order from the site.
  • Adjust formats if needed. We mentioned that full localization involves changing date formats, currencies, etc. These are small details, but you have to pay attention to them. Sometimes using a certain language without updating formats may look odd to visitors and may discourage them from browsing the website. Paying attention to details will leave a good impression on the site visitors.

How to translate your site

Now that you have decided to translate your website and you know some of the best practices and the possible challenges of such a task, you should consider the actual translation process.

The most basic option is to translate the site manually. If you have a single-page website or a few pages, it will be faster and easier simply to translate all the text (content, buttons, etc.). If you don’t know the language, you can hire a translator and then simply add the translated texts. The only challenge here is to copy your site and to make sure everything is translated.

If you use a Content Management System or some e-commerce platform, you can use a plugin. For WordPress, for instance, you can check Polylang, TranslatePress or Weglot. ConveyThis is an alternative that offers lots of integrations – WordPress, Prestashop, Joomla, Magento, Shopify, JavaScript, and more. You will probably find other options as well, depending on the platform you use. Most such plugins/modules rely on machine translation and/or AI translation in real time.

If you use a custom platform, you or the developer you work with can create a separate system where you can manage translations for every language you support. Instead of hardcoded text, you can use variables across all versions of the site and use the system to add and edit the translations. This option is more advanced in terms of building and supporting the translation system.

Domain vs. Subdomain vs. Subfolder

One thing you should consider is the structure you will use – top level domains, subdomains or subfolders. You can have a separate instance for each language, or if the software allows it, you can manage all versions in one place. WordPress Multisite, for example, allows you to create and manage different versions within the same WordPress installation:

There is no convention which structure to use, so you should weigh the pros and cons of each one for your specific case.


So, do you need a multilingual website? The short answer is – probably yes. Unless you want to have only one language on the site for some reason, you should have at least one more additional language. It is usually the second most popular language among your visitors. Find out what it is and follow the good practices we have mentioned above when you add it.

While maintaining multiple versions of your website may be challenging at times, there are significant advantages of having a multilingual website. You can expand your audience, boost your sales and improve the overall user experience on your site. Additional languages will allow people from all around the world to access your content or to order your goods/services.


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