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Multilingual SEO: How do you optimize your site in several languages?

Isn’t your website aimed solely at French customers?

Can your product pages be available in several languages? So how do you rank a multilingual site?

The advantages of a multilingual SEO site

Today, multilingual websites are becoming increasingly common. As well as the obvious advantages of reaching a wider audience, multilingual websites also offer advantages in terms of natural referencing.

But what are the advantages of having an optimised multilingual site online?

  1. Increase your potential audience: By offering your site in several languages, you can reach a wider audience and increase traffic to your site. It can also help you reach international markets and extend your reach.
  2. Improves the relevance of search results: Search engines take into account the language of content to determine the relevance of search results for users. By offering pages in several languages, you can increase the relevance of the results.
  3. Increase the quality of your backlinks: Backlinks are a key element in search engine optimization. By offering content in several languages, you can attract backlinks from international sites, which can improve your link building.
  4. Improves user experience: By offering your site in several languages, you can provide a more personalised user experience for your international visitors. This can improve user satisfaction, increase the time spent on your site and reduce the bounce rate.

In short, a multilingual site can offer many advantages in terms of natural referencing and help to strengthen your online presence on an international scale.

How do you rank an international site?

Search engine optimization (SEO) for a multilingual site is the same as for any other domain, provided that certain rules are followed.

Careful content in each language

Translating dozens or even hundreds of pages from French into another language is time-consuming work. So it’s tempting to use an automatic translation tool to save time.

However, if you are targeting international markets, this is not a good idea. The main reason is that the automatic translator knows neither the context nor the subtleties of each language. The result is likely to be very approximate, and ultimately to your detriment.

It is therefore essential to design and write original content, optimised content for each country. It helps to increase the conversion rate, strengthen your brand image and avoid any negative interpretations by Google (spam, duplicate content, etc).

Internal linking

More than for any other site, internal linking needs special attention.

It is important to link pages with identical content, but in different languages. This helps to:

  • Strengthen and improve the general indexing of the site;
  • To let GoogleBot know that the site exists in several versions that may be of interest to users in different regions. For the record, Google considers a region not only geographically, but also in terms of the language used.
Automatic redirection based on browser language

Using automatic redirection based on the browser language is not a good idea because :

  • A French Internet user consulting your multilingual site from a browser in another language will not be able to access the French version easily;
  • If there is no version for a language, your prospect is automatically redirected to the default version.
Report each language version to search engines

Finally, using sitemaps or the hreflang tag, it is possible to indicate each language version to search engines, making it easier for them to index the site.

Launching a website in another country or language can clearly affect your future business, and this type of project requires support to avoid making mistakes (duplicate content, poor indexing in the target country, etc.). Our agency offers help and will provide you with advice and support for this delicate project.

Multilingual sites and SEO

Designing a multilingual site is an obvious choice for many companies wishing to export or sell abroad via their online shop.

In fact, a number of statistics support this view:

  • More than 7 out of 10 Internet users only spend time on sites in their mother tongue;
  • Only 42% of potential customers take the plunge and make an online purchase from a shop that does not offer a version in their own language.

To increase conversion, it is therefore essential to offer a version in the language of the country in which the company wishes to establish itself.

However, this means separating the different versions. For unambiguous organisation, both for Google and for web users, there are three possible structures:

  • Domain names with geolocalised extensions such as, or;
  • The use of explicit sub-domains such as, or;
  • The use of sub-folders. Examples:, or

While each of these 3 solutions has its advantages and disadvantages, and should be considered on a case-by-case basis, we would advise against alternative solutions such as displaying several languages on the same page, or using URL parameters to display a different language (?=lang_en).

Mistakes to avoid

Multilingual optimization of a site is a delicate process that requires careful attention to detail. Although it can be very beneficial for your natural referencing and your audience, it is important to avoid certain common mistakes to avoid damaging your search engine rankings.

  • Not translating properly: Your website must be translated accurately and professionally. Mistakes in translation can affect the quality of your site and cause comprehension problems for your audience.
  • Not using hreflang tags: hreflang tags tell search engines the language and country targeted by each page of your site. Without these tags, search engines may have difficulty understanding which version of your site to display to your target audience.
  • Not adapting the content for each language: The content of each page of your site must be adapted to the language and culture of your target audience. Not adapting the content can make your site less attractive to your audience, which can adversely affect your search engine ranking.
  • Not using a suitable domain or sub-domain: Using a suitable domain or sub-domain can help search engines understand that your site is aimed at an international audience. Avoid using domains or sub-domains that are not linked to your target country or language.
  • Not taking into account differences in culture and search behaviour: Differences in culture and search behaviour can have a significant impact on your natural referencing. It is important to take these differences into account and adapt your strategy accordingly to maximise your visibility and traffic.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can effectively optimise your multilingual site for better natural referencing and a better user experience for your international audience.

Tools and resources for an optimized site

Setting up a multilingual site may seem complex and time-consuming, but with the right tools and resources it can be done simply and effectively. Here are some useful tools and resources to help you:

There are several CMS that offer integrated translation functionality, allowing you to easily manage the different versions of your site. Among the most popular CMS for creating multilingual sites are WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and Magento.

To translate the content of your site into different languages, you can use online translation tools such as Google Translate or DeepL. However, it is best to use professional translators if possible.

You can use traffic analysis tools such as Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of your multilingual site. This tool allows you to track the number of visitors, the time spent on the site, the most popular pages, etc. for each language.

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