Why Build A Multilingual Website And How

As a multilingual marketing agency based in Cape Town, South Africa, we often get quizzed about multilingual website options. A multilingual or multi language website is a website which features several languages and therefore attracts a variety of target markets outside South Africa. A well positioned multilingual website potentially allows access to lucrative markets and assists lead conversion. Foreign language recruitment agencies, business process outsourcing companies, international e-commerce companies, tour operators and tourism companies are just some of the sectors that benefit from multilingual websites.

We have looked at the pros and cons of different multilingual website options based on the following criteria:

  • Professional translations of content: Content should be easy to read and understandable in all languages.
  • Multilingual SEO: Websites should incorporate country specific keyword research and link building, so each different language can feature in search results with their different language version.
  • URL structure: Language websites should allow for separate URLs.
  • Maintenance: Multilingual websites should be easy to maintain

At One Click Media, we can’t stop raving about WordPress Websites. The WordPress Content Management system is one of the leading content management systems worldwide. In fact, according to ManageWp’s latest research, 74,6 million sites depend on WordPress. Besides, there are 29000 WordPress plugins available to users, with awesome functionalities. WordPress is a good starting point to any website development task.

Ok enough praise. Here are your top three multilingual website options to attract international website visitors and ultimately make the circle of paying clients bigger.

Multilingual WordPress Website: MLWP

Turning a website into a multilingual master piece is straight forward with the help of popular WordPress plugin: WPML (WordPressMultiLingual). Here are the pros and cons at a glance.


Hosting: Hosting all language versions on one domain saves you monthly hosting costs.
Here is an example of what your domains will look like:

The English version of your website: www.site.com
The German version of your website: www.site.com/de
The Italian version of your website: www.site.com/it

Registration: Hosting all language versions on one domain saves you international domain registration fees.

Search Engine Optimisation: You can target country specific niche keywords with high search volume and low competition.

Country/Language Recognition: A useful and recommended function in WPML is the automatic recognition of the language of the visitor browser. WPML automatically displays the matching translated pages.

Positive Spill Effects: You can benefit from positive spill effects, e.g. if your www.mydomain.com gains traffic your www.mydomain.com/de benefits too

Updates: Plugins and software can be comfortably updated through one web interface.


Cost: You usually pay extra for a multi language plugin such as the WordPress’ WPML plugin

Complex: Handling a multilingual admin backend with different language options can be overwhelming and confusing

Developing Websites On Separate Language Domains

The second option is to register domains for each language and manually translate the content of each domain. Again there are pros and cons to this.


No keyword dilution: Keeping each language completely separate on its own domain prevents any crawler confusion as to which keywords the website should be listed for. Plus you can target country specific niche keywords with high search volume and low competition.

Country specific email addresses:  Running languages on separate domains, you are able to set up country specific email addresses which might be handy if you are running big operations in each country.

Straightforward WordPress admin backend: Keeping each language on a separate domain keeps the WordPress admin backend simple.

Branding: Separate country domains are good for branding, as they tell visitors immediately that the business is focused on a specific country.

Geotargeting: Country domains are internationally targeted (previously called geo-targeting) to the country, meaning, for example, that .fr websites receive a ranking boost from France and .de websites receive a ranking boost from Germany.


Hosting: Hosting each language on its own domain will raise the bill of your hosting account. Here is an example of what your domains will look like:

The English version of your website: www.site.com
The German version of your website: www.site.de
The Italian version of your website: www.site.it

Registration: Featuring each language on a separate domain requires you to register, you guessed it, different country domains. This can be easy and straight forward if you are a resident of this country, but complicated if you are not.

Monitoring & Reports: You will need to monitor separate google analytics accounts for each domain

SEO: You are not able to use positive SEO spill effects: Even if you have a website that appears top in the search results in English, there’s no guarantee that if you translate it into French or German (for example) that the foreign versions will perform as well.

Software updates: More maintenance in terms of software updates.

The Google Translate Widget

Google translate is considered the best online tool for translations but replaces by no means a professional manual human translation.


Time: You save time on manual translations and set up.


SEO: Potentially harmful for your SEO, since there is no provision for language specific meta tags.
Readability: Bad readability. Google translate is one of the best computer-aided translations out there. Its often struggling with complex sentences and simply cannot replace a human translation.
URLs: Lack of country specific URLs. This makes sharing of country URLs difficult and hinders link building.

An accurate website translation, even though it requires more effort will generate far better results than a standard translation that ignores these crucial elements. Thorough keyword research and link building need to be part of the multilingual website development.

We specialise in multilingual marketing. Should you need a website aimed at the overseas market featuring multiple languages please contact us.

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