Into How Many Languages Should You Translate Your Small Business Website?

You’re probably reading this post because you have decided to offer your website in several languages. It is commendable that you have realised with a website only in one language, you’re missing out on tons of web traffic, due to the fact that your content is not translated. Research has shown that by adding one language, for example, Spanish, Geman or French your sales could shoot up even by 100%. I’m certain that this will make any business owner convinced to translate their website.

Making the decision to translate your website is however the first step to creating a multilingual website. The second step is deciding how many languages you’ll offer. I wish I could give you a magic number for the languages to have on your website, to guarantee you international success, but there is none.

You need to take time making this decision to ensure you pick the right languages because your choices will have some implications. For example, if you choose too many languages the translation costs may be too high for your business to sustain. That’s why you need to decide on the most important languages that are necessary to grow your business globally.

In this article, I will give you some tips on how to choose languages to translate your website into. Hopefully, at the end of the article you’ll have an easier time selecting the languages to make available on your website.

Questions You Need To Answer When Choosing Languages For Your Website

The information you get from the following questions will guide you on the languages you must have on your business website.

1. Where does your website traffic come from?

Answering this question will help you decide the languages your website must be translated into. A simple look at your Google Analytics will show you where your web visitors are coming from. If you find, for example, that you have a lot of traffic from Japan it is definitely a good idea to translate your content into Japanese to better reach this market.

A word of caution though, I wouldn’t advise that you translate into all the languages for the locations Google Analytics shows you have traffic from. For areas you get the most traffic, it will be absolutely necessary, but for locations, you get pockets of website visitors I suggest you do some market research to find out if translating to the local language will be worth it.

2. Which countries do you operate in?

As a business, the best way to reach your potential customers is to communicate with them in their native language. It has been found that brands that do this have built trust and loyalty among their customers over time. So, if you’re operating in a country whose native language is not English you need to translate your content into the language mainly used there to make it easier for you to succeed in that region.

When you look at your Google Analytics you may find that you’re not getting any traffic in a market you’re currently in, say China, Indonesia, Russia, etc. Having zero traffic from these areas could be your biggest indication that you need to translate your content for those markets, because people may not be coming to your site since it is not translated into their native language.

3. What are the most popular internet languages?

If you’re so eager to set up your multilingual website, or your website is new and you don’t have Google Analytics web traffic statistics to look at yet, you can begin by offering your website in the languages most commonly used to write content on the internet. What are these languages?

You guessed right, English has the most content on the internet at 54%. This is greatly attributed to the fact that it was the founding language of the internet. So, you definitely have to offer your website in English. Other top 10 languages widely used for internet content are:

  • Russian – 6% 
  • German – 5.9%. 
  • Spanish – 5% 
  • French – 4%
  • Japanese – 3.5%
  • Portuguese – 2.9 %
  • Italian – 2.3%
  • Persian – 2.0%
  • Polish – 1.7%

Many content writers have used these languages to create web content because clearly there is a need for it. So I don’t think you starting out by offering some of these languages to drive your global sales would be a wrong move.

4. Where can you get the largest market for your products with translated content?

I don’t know if you noticed in the last point, Chinese was not in the list of top ten languages widely used to create internet content. However, failing to offer you website in Chinese would be a big mistake when trying to take your business global.

Currently, there are 4.39 billion internet users, China has 19.3% of these users, which make it the country with the largest number of internet users. So, having your content in Chinese would be a good first choice. Other countries with a huge number of internet users you should target include the U.S, India, Japan, Nigeria, Brazil, France, Mexico, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, South Korea, Indonesia and Egypt.

The good news is China and some of the other countries with millions of internet users, like the U.S, France, Brazil and Russia have citizens with high buying power. Translating your website in languages with the largest number of internet users can help you attract these individuals who are willing to spend on products they like.

Conclusion

I hope when you answer the above questions you’ll be able to narrow down your list of languages to offer on your website. When you do so, I recommend that you work with a professional language translation agency.

The mistake many website owners make is using machine translation to create a multilingual site. With this form of translation, you can have your website available in many languages in minutes, but your translations will be full of errors. Low-quality translation will only confuse and push away potential customers, which is the opposite of what you want to do as a business.

So do the wise thing and work with the best human translators to create selling content in multiple languages and watch as you business conquers the international market! If translation costs are a concern for you, start with a few languages and increase the number as you grow. 

If I were to choose the first few languages for your website, I would go for English, Chinese, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese. These languages will help you reach a large number of internet users.

I wish you the best as you begin your journey to creating a multilingual website.