Some companies have clients all over the world who speak many different languages. What language should the company’s website be in? Today, Google has published their recommendations for international websites in their webmaster central blog.
There are three options cited that are supported by Google, although the site owner must take measures to ensure certain configurations are utilized depending on which option is used.
The first option is to have one website in one language for everyone. There’s not much language configuration here because there’s only one language, however, you could have links to other webpages that would be more beneficial to those who speak different languages.
The second option is to bring all users to a choice box page. In this scenario everyone is brought to the same page, but it is not the home page, it is a precursor page that prompts the user to choose which language he/she would like to be in.
If this is the option you choose then Google recommends that you put a snippet of code in the header of all the webpages that are not in your primary language that tells Google this is the alternative version of the primary webpage. These are the rel, alternate, and hreflang tags (<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es” href=http://es.yourprimarysite.com/>).
This is recommended for every page in every language, so whereas the above example has the hreflang=”es” (for Spanish) you would potentially have another one that reads “de” (for German). For every single page.
The last option is to automatically serve the version to the user based on that person’s location or language setting. It may seem like this would be the simplest, but Google still recommends that you use the same rel, alternate, and hreflang tags for this option so that they can help serve your customers through their search results page.
It’s a lot of leg work, but it will help Google give the right page to the right person who is searching for your service.
This reminds me, I used to work for an international company that wanted their opening page to display seven different flags, one for each language they did business in. Then the user could click on the language of choice and be taken to a whole unique website. That is, until they found out the price tag for it.
For budget reasons we ended up going with option one. We simply hired a trusted website design company to create one website in one language, and put it on a CMS for us. That way, we knew we could go in later and add simple informational pages in all the languages we wanted, then promote those pages to prospects in those countries.
This may not work for your business, however. You may need forms, and interactive pages on your website to be in multiple languages. Whatever option you chose you should go with a company that has the experience and capacity to handle your business needs. Call Infront for a consultation on a new website today.