Creating an International Website: From Translation to Optimization

Imagine this: more than half of all websites are written in English, yet English speakers account for only a quarter of all internet users worldwide.

Creating an international website to open doors to foreign markets is the logical next step for companies looking to scale, Lizzie Kardon — head of content and engagement at Pagely, a WordPress hosting provider — told me in a recent interview.

Translation plugins

Even if the majority of your audience speaks English, translating your website into other popular U.S. languages will significantly boost your potential to build an audience of engaged and loyal followers. According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, by translating your website into Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish, you’ll be able to reach nearly 44 million people who speak these languages at home in the land of the free. Add Tagalog and Vietnamese, and you’ll extend your website’s potential reach by another 3.2 million.

For all WordPress.com sites, regardless of plan, the Google Translate Widget automatically translates your content into any language supported by Google Translate. But it could potentially lead to a tsunami of spelling and grammatical errors when translating languages that use different syntax structures and word orders.

Creating an international website is no major task with WPML, the WordPress Multilingual Plugin, used en masse by approximately 600,000 websites. Compatible with most WordPress themes, WPML translates your self-hosted WordPress site or WordPress.com Business site into more than 40 languages and even regional variations, such as Mexican Spanish and Canadian French. You can add a language-switching option in the navigation menu or as a sidebar widget.

WPML Setup Page from https://wpml.org/features/

If you don’t trust artificial intelligence, you can do the translation yourself or even have your users do it for you in the WPML Translation Editor. Send them content in need of translation via the Translation Dashboard.

WPML Translation Editor from https://wpml.org/features/

Acclaro, which specializes in translating and localizing websites, offers a free video training course on building multilingual WordPress sites with WPML.

As this tutorial on setting up a multilingual site shows, the translated versions of your content can appear:

  1. In the same domain in language directories, using one site with a different post in each language
  2. In sub domains, such as CNN.com and Arabic.CNN.com
  3. In country-specific domains, such as Lollapalooza.com and Lollapaloozabr.com (Brazil) or Amazon.com and Amazon.com.uk.

Audrey Strasenburgh, SEO strategist for LogoMix (LogoMaker.com), explained in an interview that keeping each language version of the site in directories — for example, logomaker.com/de/uber-uns/ — is better for search engine optimization than using country-specific domains.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for in WPML, consider these six other translation plugins:

  1. Babble

  2. Lingotek Translation

  3. MultilingualPress

  4. Polylang

  5. Prisna Translate

  6. qTranslate-X

Local content delivery networks

If your website is hosted in Los Angeles, a user reading it in Timbuktu could wait ages for your content to load. To avoid this, use a content delivery network (CDN), which stores your content in servers around the world. Users retrieve data from servers closest to them, thereby speeding up load times. There are as many CDNs to choose from as there are Eskimo words for snow (it’s true, there really are 50), including the following:

  1. AWS CloudFront

  2. Bootstrap CDN

  3. Cloudflare

  4. Cloudinary

  5. Google Cloud CDN

  6. Incapsula

  7. MetaCDN

  8. Microsoft Azure CDN

  9. Photon by Jetpack

  10. Swarmify

Optimizing for multiple browsers and devices

Both Google Analytics (for WordPress.com Business websites) and Site Stats (for WordPress.com websites not on the Business plan) show traffic data by country. Google Analytics also shows you which web browsers are most popular with your users. You can test your site across multiple browsers with Browsershots, CrossBrowserTesting, and BrowserStack.

Most themes these days automatically adjust to users’ devices and have a dashboard that shows just how your site appears across multiple devices. If not, check your site’s display on other devices with Screenfly or Responsinator.

Creating an international website serving multiple countries and languages should be the status quo in a globalized world. Your site should also be flexible and fast enough to accommodate numerous devices pinging your site from all corners of the earth. Then, you’ll be ready to confidently take on foreign markets and grow your business across the globe.

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Ky Trang Ho

I'm a business and financial writer, content marketer, PR consultant, and author of "Humans of Shark Tank." (https://amzn.to/2LvinfK). My work has appeared in FA Mag, Forbes.com, Institutional Investors, Investing.com, Investor's Business Daily, Guru Focus, Plan Sponsor, Seeking Alpha, The Street, ThinkAdvisor, WordPress, etc. I have been quoted in Inc.com, Thrive Global, and many blogs. See what a communications Jedi Master can do for your business. I will build your brand as a thought leader and influencer. I produce articles, presentations and much more. Count on me for press releases, content marketing, WordPress website development, social media marketing, copywriting and SEO. I have journalism experience in print, TV, radio and online. Past clients: 1. Aberdeen Asset Management 2. Advisys 3. Endowment Wealth Management 4. Focused Wealth Management 5. Pristine Advisors 6. Shippabo.com 7. TradeLog Software 8. WordPress.com 9. Utavi.com 10. And many others. Ky Trang Ho website: https://kytrangho.com Ky Trang Ho book, “Humans of Shark Tank”: https://amzn.to/2LvinfK Ky Trang Ho WordPress business articles: http://kytrangho.press Ky Trang Ho portfolio: http://kytrangho.net/ Ky Trang Ho Medium blog: http://kytrangho.org Ky Trang Ho Online business card: http://kytrangho.us Skills: - Excellent verbal and written communication skills: Able to translate complex topics and financial jargon into plain English that appeals to experts yet engages novices with strong knowledge of English language, grammar, spelling, punctuation and Associated Press (AP) style - Experienced in covering SEC filings, earnings releases, economics, breaking news - Experienced in content editing and copy editing - Boosting Website traffic and SEO (search engine optimization) ranking on key terms - Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. - Proficiency in Wordpress content management system (CMS), Google Analytics, Web development with HTML and CSS - Increasing Website traffic using social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. - Experienced in managing projects and teams working on deadlines - Experienced in managing and mentoring interns Location: Los Angeles, CA Education: BA, UC Berkeley MA, The Ohio State University Work history: Key Financial Media, LLC (2014 - present)

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