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By Margaret Sankey
June 13, 2019

Six Reasons Why Your Website Should be Multilingual

The number of people on the internet is hovering at around 4.3 billion, these days. This figure has been steadily increasing all over the globe, drawing us all into an international, connected world. If you haven’t yet reacted to the changing business environment, now is the time to start adapting. Your competition may already be ahead of you.

Here’s why your website needs to be multilingual:

1. You’ll acquire more customers

When people enter search terms for the products or services you offer, they tend to do so in their own language. If you want your website to be highest up in the search engine results when those customers are searching for you, you need content in that language. Special attention should be paid to the localization of keywords.

Making your website appealing for an international audience means that you will reach out to more people. Connecting with new customers by making your website accessible to them can allow you to expand your business activities outside of your current market.

A study by Eurobarometer, a research wing of the European Commission, found that 90% of EU internet users prefer using sites in their own language, and 44% have felt that they’re missing something interesting online when websites are not in a language that they understand. Only 18% of EU internet users surveyed said that they buy online in a language besides their own “frequently or all the time,” with 42% stating that they never do so. Increase your conversion rate, turning casual website visitors into paying customers, by having your website translated into multiple languages.

2. You’ll keep more customers

Offering high-quality website content to your customers in their own language shows them that they are important to you. That helps build trust, respect, and loyalty, meaning that they’ll keep coming back.

Poor writing is a factor that increases a website’s bounce rate, that is, the percentage of site visitors who leave after visiting just one page. You don’t want to attract visitors to your site only to lose them again when they’re confronted with a low-quality translation. In fact, if you opt for the laughably awful results of a machine translation, you may even end up offending or alienating potential customers. So choose a good translation agency, and let the professionals take care of it. It may cost less than you think.

3. Attracting international clients is a smart move

Customers living in countries with growing economies, such as China, India, Malaysia, and Poland, are a particularly valuable asset from the point of view of long-term strategic thinking. If you get a foothold now, the gains you make in those markets can pay off later when increases in spending power become significant.

But even within the borders of most English-speaking countries, immigration ensures that there are plenty of customers who are most comfortable in another language even if they do speak some English. Attracting them is a great way to expand your future client base.

4. Social media

Would you share a website link with colleagues or post about it on Facebook if you knew that most of your connections wouldn’t be able to read its content?

Encourage social media sharing by making it easy for your clients to recommend you to their family, friends, and colleagues and get the word out—in their own language.

5. Quebec’s language laws

Quebec is the province with the second-largest population in Canada: 8,455,402 people. If you’re doing business in Canada, you’ll want to do business here.

The issue: section 52 of Quebec’s Charter of the French Language states that “Catalogues, brochures, folders, commercial directories and any similar publications must be drawn up in French.” This has been interpreted to mean that the websites of all companies with a physical location in the province must have a French version of every part of their website. It may even apply to company Facebook pages, although this is a grey area of the law at present.

The Office québécois de la langue française (Quebec Board of the French Language), which is responsible for applying the law and, at times, enforcing it, operates on a complaints-based system. According to La Presse, around 10% of the complaints they receive concern websites; a total of about 350 per year. People here tend to care a lot about the French language.

There are also French speakers in many other parts of Canada outside of Quebec whose appreciation of the courtesy of a French translation is also related to their feelings about the entire history of the country and their place within it, not just simple practicality. What this means is that translating your website into French is a no-brainer if you’re operating in Canada, whether or not you are concerned about running afoul of a law. And, again, a bad translation won’t do the trick here.

6. Look like the real thing

Having a multilingual website is also a sign that your company is serious about doing business. Major companies have multilingual websites with good translations. They don’t spend money on their logo and graphics and then cut corners on the content.

If you want to look like you mean business and get taken seriously, go multilingual with high-quality translations in several major languages.

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