by Terry Young
More languages, more customers...
Anyone who goes into a store knows that pretty much everything you see on the shelves is labeled in more than just English.
From a simple business standpoint, this makes a lot of sense, since many people likely to be buying the product do not speak English as their first language.
Similarly online, only around 35% of Internet users are English reading, with Spanish readers around 12%, German around 7% and French around 5%.
If you are a company that does business in other countries, can sell anywhere, or has staff who can speak other languages, it makes much more sense for your site to be multi-lingual.
You can increase your share of the marketplace by almost 25% by simply making your site available in the three languages above.
If you do speak other languages, why not make your whole site also use that language to reach those visitors also? I find it amusing when I see sites that are fully in English, and just claim 'Hamblamos Español' somewhere on the page.
Even if you do not speak those languages, you do not have to pay an expensive translation company to go through your site and translate every page into several languages. There are many free, automated translation methods out there, which while not entirely perfect, at least make your site more readable to non English-speaking visitors.
These translation methods, such as Google (translate.google.com) and Bing (www.microsofttranslator.com) can also be used to help you read any non-English emails that may come in.
For companies with dynamic sites that they can edit themselves, it is definitely worthwhile having their developer write a real-time translation program for the site. Dynamic sites like our new WebUpdate 5 sites actually perform the translations as the page is created or edited. This means that the site is already stored in those other languages, and is not trying to convert the content on-the-fly each time the visitor loads the page.
Handling the translation this way also means that the visitor doesn't need to install special toolbar software to see the other languages.
Furthermore, our new sites also appear to create several different domains, one for each language. For example, if you visit one of our new sites, www.BaySunsets.com, and click the flags at the top, you will see that the www. becomes fr., es. and de. for each language.Therefore, each language version of the site is treated as a unique, language independent site by the search engines. This means that if someone searches in their native language, you have a much better chance of being in the results they see.
Also, while it may seem that using this method would involve paying for four sites, it does not, since each site runs from the same server, and all versions are updated at the same time, from the same control panel.
If you are ready to grow your business, now is the perfect time to consider our WebUpdate systems, which employ advanced marketing, promotion and security features designed to give businesses the best competitive edge online.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design. Since 1997,