How to approach internationalisation

How to approach internationalisation

5 Make each language version easily discoverable

One language, one page

If you offer your website in multiple languages, use a single language for content and navigation on each page, and avoid side-by-side translations.

Flag language in your URL

Keep content for each language on separate URLs and flag language in the URL. For instance, an URL ‘www.mysite.com/de/’ would tell a user the pages are in German.

Language target

Show Google which language(s) you're targeting through hreflang — or language — meta tags. (In HTML, ‘href’ stands for ‘hypertext reference’ and is used to code all HTML links, while ‘lang’ is short for language.)

Cross-link

Display a gateway button on the top right of all pages for customers to select their region or language of choice , whichever version of your site they originally land on.

Dynamic content

Although Google recommends using separate URLs for content in different languages, we have adapted to deal with dynamic, personalised content, where a website recognises where a user’s IP address is located, and automatically displays relevant content and language. So, if your site uses a dynamic structure, don’t worry about rewriting it. It will be found in online searches, and dynamic content providers won’t be disadvantaged.


Habits to avoid

Boilerplate-only translation

Don’t translate only the boilerplate text of your website while keeping the rest of your content in a single language (as often happens on pages featuring user-generated content such as forums). It may create a negative user experience, if the same content appears multiple times in search results with various boilerplate languages.

Automatic translation

Automated translations don’t always make sense and could harm customers’ perceptions of your site. Block search engines from crawling automatically translated pages on your site by using robots.txt.

No cookies

Don’t use cookies or scripts to show translated versions of the page. Google can't crawl that type of dynamic content to index your site’s content correctly, and users may not be able to see it either.