How to manage a multilingual website

For a company that wants to expand beyond its national borders, it is essential to have a multilingual website, which makes it known abroad

For a company, whether it is an SME or a large company, internationalization is one of the main roads to take when you want to find new customers and expand your business. And a multilingual website is often the easiest way to start your journey towards foreign markets.

If well structured, in fact, a portal that is not only in Italian, but also in English, French, Spanish or Chinese (and any other language that interests you) is an excellent business card to make yourself known outside the Italian borders. Thanks to the multilingual site, in fact, you can describe your activities, show what you do and provide all the information that potential customers may need to contact you.

You must be very careful when creating a multilingual site. Managing it and indexing it correctly can create more than a few problems and the results may be slow in coming. For this reason it is necessary to rely on professionals who know how to create and manage a multilingual site.

What is a multilingual site

Let's start from the base and try to give a definition of multilingual site. As stated in Google's guidelines, a multilingual site is "a site that offers content in multiple languages". It is the same site "referable" to a single web address, but available in two or more languages. Take the case of an Italian fruit and vegetable company exporting to the United Kingdom, with a site in both Italian and English; or, again, an export agency with a version of the site for each language of the countries in which it operates

Despite what you might think, creating and managing a multilingual site is not at all simple. It's not simply a matter of translating all the content already present into the new language and "flanking" this version with the original one. By doing so, in fact, you risk "confusing" the ideas of search engines, making the work done in the original version useless.

How to create and manage a multilingual site

In this case, design is fundamental. As already mentioned, a multilingual site is not a "simple" translation from one language to another. Obviously, there will also be a need for translation work but, and this should not surprise you, this is only the last step of a longer process. First of all, some technical operations will have to be done in order to create the site in the second or third language.

For example, you will have to decide whether to create a sub-domain of the main one or a third level domain; set the URL structure (which will have to be different from those of the "original" version); identify the CDNs in order to minimize the "distance" between the user accessing the site and the location of the servers and so on.

Only at this point it will be possible to translate the contents, paying attention both to the grammatical correctness and to adopt an adequate SEO strategy that allows the correct positioning of the new version of the site.

Mistakes not to be made when creating and managing a multilingual site

At the same time, it is essential to avoid making mistakes that are only apparently trivial and that could compromise the results not only in the "translated" version, but also in the original one.

For example, it will be necessary to set the "destination" language both in the Google Search Console and in the HTML code, where the attribute <hreflang> must be inserted correctly and punctually. Absolutely forbidden, then, to use automatic translators to save on the creation of content for the new versions of the multilingual site. If possible, finally, use an "international" domain (such as ".com" or similar), which does not give any geographical connotation to users who might find it with a search on Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo.

In short, it is not absolutely simple to create and manage a multilingual site independently. Unless you have specific technical skills, in fact, it is more than advisable to turn to professionals in the field, who not only know how to create the structure of the multilingual site, but also know how to offer a translation service in line with international standards. With italiaonline's "Site" service, for example, it will be possible to create a website for your company relying on the assistance and support of dedicated consultants, always ready to intervene for changes and corrections on your company's site.