Language Matters September/October 2006: Multilingual Websites

Dear Language Friend,

We are back with our fall newsletter. In this issue, I will discuss HOW multilingual websites help you grow your business, WHAT keywords to use when targeting foreign language speaking audience and WHEN to utilize an email translation service.

Thanks for reading,

Lenka de Graafova
Managing Director.

Office Closed

First of all, please note that our office will be closed between 23 October and 3 November 2006. At that time, we will not be able to handle any work and projects will be dealt with either before or after these dates. Apologies for the inconvenience

Expand with Multilingual Website

Recently, there has been an enormous growth in multilingual websites. Corporations realize that a multilingual website is a powerful marketing and sales tool. But a multilingual website is not just about translation. There are many steps to consider in the process of expanding across  the English speaking border.

If you’re playing with the idea of a multilingual website, research your target market(s) well. Is your product or service suitable both for Quebec and France, for Hong Kong and Mainland China? The languages you choose, will ultimately determine your marketing and sales strategy. Since we at LingoStar are redesigning our very own website and planning to launch it in multiple languages, I’d like to share with you my experience of multilingual website development:

– Decide whether to purchase & set-up country specific domain names (.fr for France, .de for German, .pt for Portugal, etc.) – A local country extension will help customers find you.
– Locate a suitable web-developer with multilingual website development experience – Make sure the developer knows how to incorporate foreign language characters.
– Set up local contact addresses and local telephone numbers – Use Skype’s service ( to setup local phone numbers and staff your reception with foreign language speakers.
– Have your website localized and translated into more languages. Choose one language services provider if you are dealing with more than one language.
– Optimize your website for search engines and promote it in multiple languages – Once your multilingual website goes live, it needs to be promoted vigorously to show a good return on investment. Research and incorporate foreign language meta keywords and descriptions and submit your site to major foreign search engines in the target market.
– Establish email translation/relay system helping you communicate with your international customers as your customers will be contacting you in foreign languages. Staff your office with foreign language speakers or use a language services provider to handle your foreign language emails.

At LingoStar we can, of course, help with all the above! Read more about website translation, localization and email translation service.

Search Engine Optimization in Foreign Languages

So you have internationalized your website – great! What comes next? SEO – search engine optimization. A pure translation and a content copy in multiple languages will not do the job for you. You will need to optimize your website for foreign search engines and thoroughly research which foreign language keywords will bring more traffic to your multilingual web pages.

Since Google has been developing the capacity to run searches in foreign languages, your site will likely be picked up by the search engines if appropriate foreign language keywords are present. However, a straightforward translation of English keywords is not sufficient – you still need to find out what your foreign language readers actually search for. Below are some tips to get organized with SEO.

  • Think of words and phrases that are relevant to your service or product
  • Establish target keywords in master language (English)
  • Develop list of keywords in target language (e.g. German)
  • Poll search engines in each language market (e.g. German) by asking the search engines how many times they have been queried for a particular keyword
  • Rank keywords according to popularity, relevance and level of competition
  • Incorporate keywords at specified rate in body text
  • Develop optimized meta statements
  • Optimize alt tags and link titles
  • Submit your multilingual website to major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) but also to country-specific search engines

Keywords in Real Life

Keyword research can render surprising results. When researching keywords for our LingoStar website, I was interested to see what Internet users search for when looking for a Czech language course. To my dismay, the keyword ‘Czech’ produced searches mostly related to ‘Czech girl’, ‘Czech babe’ or ‘Czech beauty’! I’m flattered that women from my country are still popular but should this determine my business strategy focus?!! Good luck with you matching your products to your target markets!

Keyword Search Tool:

When Emails Look Foreign

Once you have incorporated a SEO strategy and successfully managed to gain visibility on a foreign language market, you should think of a way to respond to your customers. If you provide fantastic Spanish text on your site and promote your products or services across Latin America, you will start receiving Spanish language emails and phone calls. Your in-house Spanish speakers will most likely get very busy. But if nobody speaks Spanish in your company, you will soon realize that dictionary searches and racking your brains for grammar rules vaguely stored in your memory from a long ago Spanish class or a short trip to Mexico, are not very effective. You might feel overwhelmed by the sudden surge of foreign language emails coming into your company inbox. Don’t worry and get some help:

Hire an employee with multilingual language skills. A lot of skilled workers and newcomers to Canada will be thrilled to handle your emails and phone calls in their mother tongue. Moreover, they can often speak a few other languages as well.

Establish cooperation with LingoStar. We provide a quick and efficient email translation service in many languages. We function as your “call center” for written emails. The focus is on accuracy, quick turnaround times and cost-efficiency. Contact us to discuss the volume and frequency of your emails and the languages you might require.

Read more about Email Translation

Country-specific Search Engines

Below are some examples of search engines abroad, other than Google, MSN and Yahoo.

Japanese search engines and directories
German search engines
Thai search engines
Korean search engines
French search engines
Russian search engines
Chinese search engines