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How to set up a multi-language website

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People with international flags - how to make a multi-language website

If you want to expand the reach of your website, setting it up to be multi-lingual is the way to go. People will be able to browse your site, selecting from a few (or many) languages for viewing. This is particularly important if:

  • Your website content is suitable for virtually all nationalities (e.g. your site is an e-commerce shop selling stock photos worldwide)

or

  • Your website is geared toward people living in a general region of the world where more than one language is commonly spoken (e.g. Canada, the E.U., etc)

It's wonderful if you can serve up a multi-language website, where readers can browse in their own language. You'll get a lot more readers than you would have otherwise.

I was looking into this myself for one of my own websites, and here are a few things that the beginner may not necessarily be aware of:

  1. It's not quite as simple as just providing duplicate pages translated into a different language. If you do that, Google will flag your pages as duplicate content, which penalizes you in search engine rankings. Therefore, besides providing the translated pages, there is some markup you need to do to indicate to Google that a particular page is available in multiple languages, and the URL of those pages. We'll get into that below.
  2. Different language pages should have distinct, different URLs. Don't rely on cookies or geolocation to provide different translations on a single URL.
  3. Once you go beyond one language, it's super-easy to add additional languages. In other words, going from a single-language website to two languages requires a certain amount of work, but going from two to three languages (or more) requires very little extra work behind the scenes.

Assuming that you'd like to go ahead with converting your website into more than one language, here are two different ways you could go about it. Option A is for if you have some coding experience, Option B is simple point-and-click.

Option A: If you are comfortable with coding

How to set up a multilingual site - world map with binary numbers

If you enjoy coding, or are willing to learn it, then adding multi-language options to your website is ideal for you. This is because you will then have total control over every aspect of it. Google has some excellent guidelines for what needs to be indicated behind the scenes. Once you set this up code-wise, Google will understand which languages are on your website and which of your pages are in what languages, expanding the reach of your site to include those using other languages and/or in other parts of the world.

Exactly how you implement that is up to you, but in a large part will depend on the software your website uses. Some types of software are better suited than others for this; it's not going to be easy in Wordpress.

If you want to code multi-language from scratch and have not already started setting up your website, then I highly recommend ProcessWire. This is because it has built-in support for multi-language sites. Even with the built-in support, you'll need to do your own coding; they just make it a lot easier than other types of website software.

Regardless of what software your website is built on, to set up your multi-language website, you'll need to set up your code so that it incorporates the following guidelines from Google:

If you're willing to put in the time and effort, you'll have the most amount of control over it if you do the coding yourself.

Option B: If you don't want to do any coding

If you want your website to become multilingual without messing with the code yourself, and have it "just work" right away, then I would recommend using Bablic. It's website translation that seamlessly integrates with whatever site software you're using: Wordpress, Joomla, Shopify, Squarespace, and many many more.

An Easier, Quicker & Smarter Way!

You can even get a preview for your website for free - no signup required. To see the home page of your website translated using Bablic:

  1. Just navigate to the Bablic home page
  2. In the box enter your website URL
  3. Click the "try now for free" button... and enjoy the results!

Be aware it'll only translate part of it in the preview because there is a word limit to the number of words translated for the preview. I tried this for Purely.space (I picked to translate into French) and my jaw dropped! I can attest Bablic really does work!

Even if you could code yourself, it may be worth it just in the time savings to use Bablic. Their pricing plans are surprisingly affordable, especially considering what you stand to gain in revenue from expanding your audience to people using other languages. If you want to try before you buy, they have a 14-day free trial - Try now for free.

Conclusion

Making your website available in multiple languages is an excellent way to expand its reach. Here we have described two different options for how to convert your website to be multilingual, depending on if you are comfortable with coding. If you don't want to code, we recommend Bablic - it's easy and works right away. Enjoy the increased traffic you'll get when people using other languages start browsing your site!


How to get off to a great start with a side business

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Would you like to try your hand at a fun business: setting up and running a website? Let us show you how with our free illustrated tutorial. Follow along, and you'll be able to quickly set up your choice of sites: a forum, social network, blog, e-commerce store, or Q & A site. Take a look at our beginner's tutorial page and let us get you off to a fast-moving start.

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