Multilingual SEO: Setting Up Your Website for SEO

multilingual seo

The content on your website is important and marketing it with SEO requires a lot of time and patience. This is especially true if you have a website that is multilingual. You may wonder if adding another language to your website will help or hurt your SEO efforts. There are multiple takes on optimizing your multilingual websites and many people will tell you that it depends on each specific case.

So how can you set up a multilingual site and boost your SEO results? Today, we will take a look at the right approach to adding another language to your website and a few things you can do to help with your multilingual SEO efforts.

Adding a second language to your website means that you will be essentially creating a copy of your content in different languages. If you have endeavored into SEO before, you may be skeptical because Google frowns upon duplicate copy. However, Google is constantly improving to become a multi-dimensional search engine that can change results based on demographics. For example, a country like Canada has natives that speak in different languages. Parts of Canada are predominantly English-speaking and others are French-speaking. For the best experience, Google wants to deliver results that can accommodate the right people in the right location.

Google does not ding you for SEO just because you have duplicate copy in different languages; however, your website does need to be set up properly. But how do you do this with multilingual SEO? Here are a few tips:

First, you want to set up your website in a way that helps Google’s algorithm crawl the site and see your multilingual content properly. What you need to do is pick out a URL or domain structure that allows Google to use geo-targeting. This can be done in three ways: with a top-level domain for each region you are targeting, generic subdomains that allow you to keep your current URL — sp.domain.com, for example — but can hinder geo-targeting or generic subdirectories; for example, domain.com/sp/about.

multilingual seo

Once you add the URL and domain structure as part of your website, add the new version in a foreign language to Google Search Console. This alerts Google that your website has multiple versions.

So what does this do to your SEO? If you already have an established English version of your website, it shouldn’t affect much of anything. Remember that by creating a version of your website in a different language, it’s like creating a new website. The website may rank differently in another language than in English. This is a good thing because it means Google views each version separately and not as one site having duplicate content. As long as the content that the user sees and that Google’s algorithm sees are the same, multilingual websites are not viewed negatively.

Once you create two different versions of your website, you need to remember a couple of things:

1. Using Google Translate is not a fool-proof solution. It is a far-from-perfect method of translating, so it’s best not to rely on it. You can use Google Translate to quickly translate your copy in a short amount of time, but someone fluent in the language should edit that translation to ensure its accuracy. Leaving it all up to Google Translate can leave flaws that can lead to higher bounce rates from the foreign version of your website.

2. You now have a second version of your website. This means that both versions of your website need to be updated and maintained. It’s important that you follow SEO best practices on both versions of your multilingual website, from on-page SEO to linking to branding and everything in between.

Part of SEO that doesn’t change no matter what language your website is in is the need to have a website that functions properly and loads quickly. As with English websites and standard SEO practices, people may never see how relevant your content is to their searches if they have a bad user experience because your website’s pages do not load quickly, for example. If this is the case, most, if not all, of your site visitors will head back to the search results to look elsewhere.

There are many things to consider when you start a multilingual website and start producing and translating content in order to follow SEO guidelines in multiples languages. However, if you stick to SEO best practices and maintain proper diligence before launching the website for search engines to index, you will get two quality versions of your website that can produce results internationally.


If you are starting a multilingual website or want to know more about multilingual SEO, let 1Digital Agency be your guide. We follow specific SEO practices in our digital marketing plan that set you up for success in achieving rankings and increased organic traffic.

Contact us today to learn more about our search engine optimization (SEO) services and how we can help you get the results you want.