During the early years of the internet, English used to be the predominant language on the web. Native English speakers accounted for the majority of the online population, but with the global spread of internet usage, they now only account for 26.5% users on the web.
During the last decade, the global growth of the Internet has resulted in increasing use of local languages online. Just last year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) launched Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs), which are domain names in a language-specific script such as Arabic, Chinese or Russian. A total of 21 countries including China, India and Korea have already been granted language script-specific IDN’s and this is an indication of the changing online landscape.
As most bloggers are focused upon English, they could potentially be missing out on a vast readership right now and even more so in the future. A multilingual blog will increase global reach and cultivate a strong international following.
- Creating a Multilingual Blog
Major blogging platforms like WordPress (Read multilingual WordPress) have a number of plugins that can be used to create a multilingual blog easily.
The available plugins have varying features, and it is good to assess them first in order to find a suitable one that is appropriate for you. For this purpose, a test site should be used to verify everything and a suitable plugin selected to provide content in different languages.
- Which Languages to Select?
Language selection is very important and many bloggers would ask which languages should be selected for their blog?
Bloggers should choose languages based on the following factors:
Internet users by Language: The larger the internet base for a language, the more valuable it is for bloggers to target. Languages like Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese have grown considerably online; even regional languages like Telugu (one of the national languages of India) are being encoded for the internet so that Telugu speakers (74 mil worldwide) can access content in their own language.
Traffic can be vastly increased by targeting the top languages on the internet, and it would allow a blog to gain high visibility amongst a good percent of web users worldwide.
Languages of existing blog audience: Website analytic tools provide data on visitors by country/territory, and this information is very useful for creating content that is relevant to your audience. If you have a high amount of visitors from a specific country and/or region, it would be appropriate to select languages that are spoken there for content translation.
- Translating Content
Once you have the ability to provide multilingual content, the main and reoccurring requirement of translation should be addressed. Online tools like Google Translate and Yahoo’s Babelfish are adequate to convey simple messages to a personal audience. However, if your blog is client-facing then they are not suitable because of the higher risk that the translations are inaccurate or convey a different meaning from that intended. The best possible solution for translation are to use a native speaker in the language being translated into with professional experience as a translators. As blogs have content posted on a regular basis, it’s advised to work with a single translator who develops an understanding of the writing style and the topics that are written about on the blog to provide accurate and consistent translations.
If the blog is managed by a person or a group of individuals who can speak different language(s), then it is good to provide blog content in those specific languages. Content is very important, and it is essential to have grammatically correct content.
The process of localization extends further than just translation; it encompasses cultural, social and legal norms to adapt a service or product for the target market. The translated content should be specific to the market it is aimed at so the images, examples and other illustrations used should resonate with the target audience. This would allow you to retain readers because localization has a positive impact on web users who prefer to read locally relevant content.
These simple steps are all that is required to create a multilingual blog, and the blogs which are able to provide multilingual content will lead the way in an increasingly multilingual web.
Have you tried making your blog multilingual? Please let us know in the comments below.