Multilingual websites – Parlez-vous Sitecore?

Multilingual websites – Parlez-vous Sitecore?
13th June 2019

Find out how multilingual websites can reach new global markets.

Globalisation has changed the way that organisations work. It’s becoming a common requirement that website content needs to be produced for multiple languages and territories. Whatever level of complexity your business is working at, a powerful website platform like Sitecore is well placed to help you get your content right.

What are multilingual websites?

Multilingual websites are simply websites that can deliver content in more than one language for its users. Languages can be added to a website platform to adapt partial content or in some cases the entire site. It’s a great cost-effective marketing tool that can:

  • Show your organisation has user experience in-mind across territories
  • Boost sales in new markets
  • Demonstrates cultural sensitivity
  • Increase your brand’s online visibility in market specific search engines

What’s the difference between multinational websites and multilingual websites?

Multinational websites take a multi-territory approach. Each territory has a separate website, usually with a unique country specific domain or a sub domain for each territory. An example would be or

Multilingual websites on the other hand contain multiple language options. A single website domain (or sub domain) that contains content in multiple languages. Examples include or

For certain territories where multiple languages are spoken, such as Belgium or Canada, a hybrid approach may be implemented: A country specific website with elements in multiple languages.

Multilingual websites with Sitecore

First and foremost, everything in Sitecore can be translated straight out of the box. You may only be entering content in English right now, but every content item you’ve created already supports you adding extra languages. Users can configure a friendly shortcut list of the languages needed for your site to target, and then just click “add a version in French” to be able to fill in the item with translated text. This can be done for pages, reusable content fragments and for media items. Sitecore also offers a set of ready-to-use translations for its authoring interface, if you want to make editing easier for people whose first language isn’t English.

Sitecore doesn’t provide translation services itself – if “French” was added to an item it doesn’t magically get translated. But, there are a collection of third-party professional translation services which provide direct workflow integrations into Sitecore if you can’t translate yourself. It can be as simple as setting up an account with one of these services, installing their integration, and then clicking “translate this” to get the right wording for your content.

What are the development and SEO requirements for multilingual sites?

Your site is likely to require some development to be properly multilingual. But, including language-related metadata in website pages and URLs will ensure that search engines understand the intent of your content after translation. Businesses should also consider UI components to allow people to change language easily, if they decide they’d rather read a different version of the page.

If you’re supporting languages with different writing systems and directions, Sitecore can happily support sending “this page needs Kanji characters” or “display this right-to-left” metadata to browsers – developers just need to make sure the UI components support this. Partnering with a digital agency that has the expertise to get:

for your site correct to get the best out of your site is paramount.

Sitecore also makes use of two other systems which can support good experiences for multi-language sites. Under the surface, Sitecore is built on top of Microsoft’s .Net Framework. This has full support for cultural differences, like date formats, calendars, currencies and the like. So, with the right code, your pages can automatically change from “dd/mm/yyyy” dates to “mm/dd/yyyy” when you’re serving up content for America.

Editors can use a friendly date-picker when they enter content, and the site will change the way the data is rendered to suit where the user came from. Sitecore also makes use of search infrastructure from services like Solr and Azure Search. These can be configured specifically to target the languages you need to support, so that searches over your content can match different tenses of verbs in foreign languages or understand the grammar of different writing systems.

Is a multilingual website suitable for your organisation?

If your business needs to communicate in Japan, or make sure that the USA understands what date your next product release is, then Kagool and Sitecore can give you the tools you need. We’re a top tier Sitecore Partner with a wide range of digital marketing specialists in our team. With over 20 years’ experience helping enterprise-level businesses to achieve their goals, we’d love to hear how we could help your organisation. Contact us to find out how we can help.