The Advantages of Multilingual Websites

By Gabriele Monti

If your business doesn’t have a multilingual website you may be letting credible sales pass you by. The fact that the world went global after the advent of the internet means that your business isn’t talking to people who are geographically close to you; it is talking to the world and you will do a much better job of it if you construct websites that talk to different people in a language that they understand and are fluent in. Unfortunately, too many small business owners assume that they can sell to anyone in English. This is a very myopic approach towards international marketing. Let’s look at the most populous nation in the world, China.

China has more than 1 billion people and they all speak Mandarin. What could happen if you provided these mandarin speakers with a website that’s built in Mandarin and got it to be seen by just 1% of the population? That’s 1 million users. Let’s be conservative and assume that 1% of these users buy your product or service. Do you see the potential in having a multilingual website?

The same goes for many other countries where there are big populations and many people who have spending power. The most obvious are Brazil and India. Translating your website into Portuguese or Hindi (or Urdu) will cost you a very small amount of money compared to the sales potential you create. Why, you may wonder, should you convert your website when so many people across the world speak and understand English?

This is a commonly held misconception. For one, English isn’t the most commonly spoken language in the world. According to research, it is the second most spoken. The other thing to take into account is that people want to be spoken to in a language that they understand. Consider that people want to spend money on products that they think improve their lives in some way. If you speak in English, for example, to a largely Mandarin speaking population, they may understand you as you introduce your product but as the sales pitch get more complex and they seek to understand how your product solves their problem, the conversation becomes fractured because they don’t really understand how what you are selling to them can improve their lives.

The other important question to consider is which languages you should translate to. Generally, you should consider translating to the languages most spoken in the world. These include Mandarin, French, Portuguese, Spanish and maybe Hindi or Urdu. If you can afford it, you can add to this list depending on your product and the target market. In addition to having a multilingual website, you should consider employing multilingual employees who able to correspond with users in their native languages. This can be a big boost towards your international marketing effort.

Gabriele is a multilingual SEO consultant in London he loves to promote businesses on an international scale.

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