Website Content In Different Languages

Website Content In Different Languages

Only about a quarter of the world’s population speaks English, and only 5% of people consider it their native language. However, the majority of content on the Internet is, in fact, in English. This gap is has become a subject of study for modern day linguists, some saying English is becoming a means of global communication, others saying the Internet is killing the world’s languages. Both might be true. But what does this huge divide mean for businesses?

Almost every business has a website, and the majority of them have blogs and social media accounts. The language you speak fundamentally changes the way you behave on the internet, and this has significant consequences for ecommerce and online marketing. A study from the Common Sense Advisory found that 72.1% of customers spend most or all of their time on websites that are in their own language, 72.4% are more likely to buy a product if there is information about it in their own language, and 42% of Europeans never browse in a language other than their own (Harvard Business Review). When looking at these facts compared to the number of foreign language pages on the internet, one thing becomes overwhelmingly clear – there is huge demand for online content in languages other than English, and it is not being met.

In an increasingly global world, it is becoming easier to expand your business internationally. If you do create content in a foreign language, it automatically has a high probability of ranking well, simply because it faces far less competition. Google also does not recognize duplicate content if it is written in different languages, so you could easily repurpose content you already have (if it is relevant to foreign consumers). Social media in foreign languages is another area neglected by most businesses. Social media has become an incredibly powerful force, and people want to interact with social media platforms in their own language – which, for most of the population, is not English.

There are potential pitfalls associated with creating content in foreign languages, the most obvious being translation failures. If translating, you need to be 110% confident that you are translating correctly. For example, John F. Kennedy’s famous line “Ich bin ein Berliner” might sound great to Americans, but to Germans it sounds like “I am a jelly doughnut.”

If you’re not sure about the need for foreign language content, consider these facts: from 2000 to 2008, web use among the Chinese grew by 755%, and it grew 2,064% among Arabic-speaking people. Web use among English speakers grew by a paltry 204% in comparison (Content Marketing Institute). English might be the Language of the Internet for now, but it won’t be for long – so what is your business planning to do about it?

Lucid Agency
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1Comment
  • Liz
    Posted at 09:38h, 05 January

    So interesting. We have clients, specifically with ecommerce sites, that want to consider “going international” but I think we sometimes forget what this means for content. Will a buyer that doesn’t speak English feel comfortable purchasing on a site in their non-native language? Is simply throwing a “translate” button on the page enough? I think this all boils down to needing to have a more well-considered discussion on strategy when we’re thinking about our international audience. Thank you!