View Full Version : Adding second language to an existing web site
07-10-2007, 11:22 AM
I'm thinking about starting to translate my web site (no harm in thinking!) and wonder what the best approach to organizing the pages is. As far as I can tell, the possibilities are:
separate domains - www.mysite.com vs mysite.es - Registrado con Domiteca.com (http://mysite.es)
subdomain - www.mysite.com vs espanol.mysite.com
subdirectory (or something that looks like it, faked with .htaccess) - www.mysite.com vs www.mysite.com/es/
I've read the previous threads on this topic but they are a couple of years old and I wonder if people have more experience to offer at this point.
The issues - I would like to have my site found by people searching for my keywords in Spanish BUT I am only one person and probably can't translate the entire site and release it all at once. I was thinking of coming up with an organizational plan and adding the translation a little at a time. Ideally I would migrate text to a database and if someone wanted Spanish and I HAD the Spanish for a page, I'd give it to them and if I didn't, they'd get English for that page. This would mean that the page names themselves would be the same, English or Spanish, but obviously the complete URL needs to be different or both versions won't be searchable.
If I recall, incrediblehelp favored a separate domain, but this is more maintenance for me AND I just read that you have to be in Spain to have an es domain, plus I am really interested in reaching Latin and South America more than Spain, so I'm not sure what the extension should be. It also seems like a problem if there is initially a lot of content on the Spanish domain that is the same as on my English domain? I have not found any examples of multiple languages being handled this way (not to say there aren't any, I just haven't run across them).
I have found examples of subdomains and subdirectories. Many of the big sites use subdirectories, and there was an implication that this was bad somehow, though I'm not clear why. I think webnauts was going to roll something out with subdirectories - how did that work out? freetranslation.com interestingly went with a subdomain for their Spanish version. I don't see any particular difference/advantage between subdomains and subdirectories - does anyone else? Cookie issues maybe?
I've shot myself in the foot a number of times in terms of poor choices for urls and ugly stuff getting into Google and would like to make sure I've identified potential problems BEFORE I rush into anything.
Thanks for any thoughts!
It is possible to create language sensitive pages, where the web page has the content in both languages and the server then serves whatever language the user's browser is requesting. You can then specify an order of preference so that if the language the user's browser is looking for is not available the browser reverts to the default language. However, I am not sure what the SEO effect of doing this would be. But, just to give you yet another option.
07-10-2007, 01:58 PM
A second language is a lot of work both to setup and subsequently to maintain. With the continuing improvements to translation tools like Babelfish you are better off pointing your users to such tools and then your website can be in many languages not just two.
Your site should be in the language primarily used by your target audience, or if you have any doubt as to what that is, then use English.
For SEO purposes it may be sensible to have a couple of Spanish paragraphs on your home page with relevant keywords in. Aside from that I wouldn't waste time on it.
07-10-2007, 02:14 PM
I wanted to add a note to my env espanol Earth Talk Q & A, so I got to Google Translate and found English to Spanish translated. But the same Spanish to English Translation turned out something full of jumble mistake so I left the idea of using Translating tools! I don't think they're perfect so it's best to get translators who do a good job!
Maybe having a second language, you get into Spanish search sites and traffic flow too. SEO targets but most helpful if you are offering business outsourcing which may click second language benefits.
07-10-2007, 04:30 PM
We use multiple languages on our site Farm Equipment-Heavy Equipment-Construction-Grounds Care-Material Handling-ELS (http://www.equipmentlocator.com). When we first went to this format 2 years ago we tried using seperate domains for each language, since these were new domains our efforts made very little impact into the search marketing. After 2 months we brought everything back to the Equipment Locator domain and used directories to seperate the language groups. This allowed us to take advantage of our domain history and popularity to increase our traffic on the other languages.
07-10-2007, 05:22 PM
May I ask what the purpose of the second language is?
Depending on the answer you wan to consider not just language but also country and culture.
If you are selling things, a second language is not all you need. You also need a local address in countries you are selling, different currency, potentially different payment methods, etc.
If you are also advising or talking you might need different policies (min. age, corporate tax ID, etc.) to be compliant.
And in any case you need to take local dialect into account as well as culture and customs.
I think local domains are favored by local search engines, like Google Mexico. So if you want to really have an impact in a different country it might be worth exploring not just a second language, but rather a local presence.
If it is only the second language, I'd favor a negotiated content approach (http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.0/content-negotiation.html), because you can fall back to the first language version with an IFrame that indicates that the page is not available in the second language. You can also piece by piece replace cultural sensitive content and even differentiate between spanish Spanish and mexican Spanish. You can also relatively easy determine if a particular page has been changed in the first language and needs updating in the second.
07-10-2007, 06:09 PM
We use different languages since more than six years without any problem. And in most of the languages we are #1 to #4 in Google for the most important search phrase.
We have a landing page:
Hotel LAGOA e MAR Salvador Bahia Brazil Hotels Beach Accommodation Playa Spiaggia (http://www.hotellagoaemar.com.br)
and sub-domains for each language:
Beach Hotel LAGOA e MAR Salvador Bahia Brazil (http://www.hotellagoaemar.com.br/ingles.htm)
Strandhotel LAGOA e MAR Salvador Bahia Brasilien Hotels Unterkunft (http://www.hotellagoaemar.com.br/alemao.htm)
Hotel de Praia LAGOA e MAR Salvador Bahia Brasil (http://www.hotellagoaemar.com.br/portugues.htm)
Hotel de Playa LAGOA e MAR Salvador Bahia Brasil (http://www.hotellagoaemar.com.br/espanhol.htm)
Hotel di Spiaggia LAGOA e MAR Salvador Bahia Hotels Brasile Alloggiamento Hotels Albergo (http://www.hotellagoaemar.com.br/italiano.htm)
Index of /frances (http://www.hotellagoaemar.com.br/frances)
We reside in Brazil, but it didn't affect our ranking at all (i.e. we are #1 in Google Germany for: 'hotel salvador bahia').
Normally you don't need to keep care of different local laws, that's only in very specific cases. But use keywords, title and so on for every language and in that language you are working with. That means normal SEO for every language.
And we use PayPal for foreign payments.
Strong warning: By no means use translation software. It is still very bad. Ask a friend or a professional translator.
07-10-2007, 07:38 PM
If you have several languages to address, then it is one of the very few times I would suggest using a splash page. However, if it is just a site that may cater to a second language, I recommend just adding a noticeable link in that language.
For instance, if it's mainly a site in English, but you have a second language, say Spanish, you could add a link that says "Se Habla Español."
In any event, keep just the one domain name.
07-11-2007, 03:15 AM
Many portal systems has integrated modules to add additional languages, content may be added from the admin side in different languages. Of course use the help of a professional translator, also post site deployment, your help desk should be able to handle online and off-line enquirers in that second or third language, having a content portal has its advantages, the most basic being the ease of managing the content as the site grows and the potential to increase the site functionality in an easy modular manner. This can be adapted for ecommerce systems too with additional change in the currency used, all automatic with the click of a flag button and faster too as only the text gets loaded each time.
07-11-2007, 07:43 AM
Add this meta tag to your <head> section on your Spanish pages:
<meta name="language" content="es">
In case the searcher requests "only pages in Spanish" in his Google search.
07-12-2007, 01:40 PM
There's software out there that will translate your website into several languages as well as Spanish.
If your website appears in Google, you can also go to another Google domain like google.es, search for your site and click on the translation link
07-12-2007, 04:36 PM
Thanks for all the information - the main purpose of my website is to sell a product and I also try to provide useful information/instruction about the subject area. I ship all over the world but currently most of my business comes from English-speaking countries or countries where it is common for people to learn some English. I have had almost no business from Latin America and I'm thinking that I could get in there better if there was a Spanish version of the website. My other reason for choosing a Spanish translation over anything else is that I know Spanish fairly well. I would probably use one of the automatic translators but check/correct the results.
It sounds like the approach to go with is subdirectories.
I know that it would be a lot of work and maintenance. I could add a translate button from one of the services to my pages but that wouldn't help people find me in the first place. Most of my pages don't have tons of text so if I could translate enough so that I would come up in Spanish-language searches, a translate button might be OK on the really text-heavy pages.
07-20-2007, 03:24 PM
I posted in another thread solutions for your issue here: