Expand your online presence: guide to a multilingual strategy

Published on 10/11/2023

The rise of the Internet has broken down geographical barriers, enabling companies to reach customers all over the world. However, to really take advantage of this potential, you need to speak the language of your target audience. Internet users are more likely to stay on a website that is in their mother tongue, which means that offering a multilingual experience can be the key to keeping the attention and loyalty of visitors to your website.

Whether your aim is to sell products, share knowledge or promote your brand, understanding how to position a website in several languages is an essential part of your online strategy. This is not just about translating content, but also about a deep understanding of culture and linguistic sensitivities. A well-designed multilingual website can establish an emotional connection with visitors, building trust and commitment.

In this article, we'll explore the best practices for creating and optimising a multilingual website. 

Understand your target audience

Before embarking on the complex process of translating your website, it is essential to carry out an in-depth analysis of your target audience in each language you are targeting. Cultures, mentalities and even humour can vary drastically from one country to another, which means that your approach needs to be as diverse as your audience.

Cultural expectations play a crucial role in how your content is perceived. What is acceptable in one cultural context may be misinterpreted in another. For example, certain colours may have different meanings in different countries. For more information on this subject, please read this article: Colour, culture and marketing

Content preferences also vary according to culture. What appeals to an audience in one country may not have the same impact on an audience in a different culture. Online behaviour also differs from region to region. Understanding these nuances will enable you to adapt your content and online marketing strategy accordingly, maximising your ability to engage your audience in a meaningful way.

Choose the languages to include

It is essential to choose languages based on the geographical regions you are targeting, as well as the languages most widely spoken in these regions and target countries.

Start with the most common languages in the areas you are initially targeting. For example, if you are targeting Europe, languages such as English, French, Spanish and German are often wise choices because of their wide adoption.

However, language selection should not be based on popularity alone. It is just as important to consider the official languages and regional dialects in certain regions in order to create your multilingual content. In China, for example, Mandarin is the official language, but there are also regional dialects such as Cantonese and Shanghainese, which are spoken by millions of people. 

As you grow and understand the market, be prepared to expand your language offering. User feedback, analytical data and business opportunities can guide you in adding new languages. Sometimes, specific languages are spoken in niche markets that you might want to target for maximum impact.

Create a user-friendly website structure

When creating a multilingual website, organisation of the browsing structure is a crucial stage in providing a fluid and intuitive user experience. The key lies in the ease with which visitors can switch from one language to another.

Provide a clear and visible option for changing the language. It is important to place a language change button or link prominently on your site, usually in the top right-hand corner or at the bottom of each page. Make sure that this button is clearly labelled in the main languages you offer, so that users know exactly what to expect when they click on it.

Assigning an appropriate language tag in the HTML code of each page is essential. This not only helps search engines to index your content correctly in the relevant search results, but also helps users to understand the language in which they are browsing.

Optimise content for multilingual SEO 

SEO optimisation is an essential part of any multilingual website strategy. However, simply translating content from one language to another is not enough. A more nuanced and adaptive approach is needed to ensure optimum visibility on search engines in each language you target.

  • Research multilingual keywords

Use keyword research tools to understand which searches are commonly made by users in that language. This can help focus your content on the topics and issues that your target audience is really looking for in that language.

  • Natural integration of keywords

When creating content in a particular language, integrate keywords in a natural and contextual way. Avoid forcing keywords into the text, as this can make the content unnatural and difficult to read. 

  • Content adaptation

Adapt the content to meet the specific needs of your audience in each language. This may mean adjusting the tone, the humour or even the structure of the content to better match the culture and linguistic expectations of each group.

Use Hreflang tags

Hreflang tags are essential tools for ensuring that search engines understand the language in which each page of your website is written. They play a key role in improving the accuracy of multilingual search results, ensuring that users see the appropriate language version for their search.

By implementing these tags correctly on each page of your multilingual website, you help search engines to understand the different language versions of your content. 

Encourage quality links

Links from quality websites, also known as backlinks, in the target language play a crucial role in improving your website's ranking on local search engines. Search engines consider these links as indicators of the credibility and relevance of your website in a specific language.

To encourage these links, actively seek out partnership opportunities with local websites in the regions where you want to target your audience. These partnerships can include collaborations with influential bloggers, local news sites or corporate partners. 

By investing in quality partnerships and creating relevant backlinks, you increase the credibility of your website in the eyes of local search engines, which can lead to a significant improvement in your ranking in search results. 


Positioning a website in several languages is a complicated process that requires an in-depth understanding of the language, culture and online behaviour of your target audience. To obtain a quality translation, we recommend that you use our translation agency and avoid machine translation. By following these practices, you can create a multilingual website that is optimised for search engines, offering an exceptional experience to your audience around the world. Don't forget to regularly monitor your site's performance, adjust your strategy according to the results and keep up to date with the latest trends in multilingual SEO strategy to keep your site competitive and performing on a global scale. 

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Emeline PADIEU's picture
Emeline PADIEU

Emeline holds a Master's degree in Applied Foreign Languages, specialising in International Management and International Trade Techniques. She completed her end-of-studies internship at AbroadLink Translations and now works there as a sales and marketing assistant

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