Enterprises can find their websites attracting visitors and clients from different geographies, speaking different languages. The market is so huge (and international) that targeting only English speaker based users means deliberately missing out on an effective way to grow audience, ROI, customer trust, and rank on Google.

Language can be an enormous barrier, or an effective tool.

With an intent to create a great digital experience, enterprises often find themselves in a tough spot having to use and experiment with tools wrapped in an unfamiliar language.

Only it doesn’t have to be so.

In order to take advantage of the international and multilingual market with your Drupal 8 website, you need to make sure you have set your SEO just right (along with the language, of course).

But is it really that easy?

Why Opt for a Multilingual Website?

The world wide web makes it easy for the online businesses to be looked around from across any part of the world. While, the right SEO strategy will give you a place on the first page of Google, making it exclusive to one language is actually not a good idea (even for your SERP).

Smart marketers don't keep all eggs in one basket because it is bad for business. So is keeping all content in one language.


Here’s why a multilingual website will help:

Increases Your Possible Customer Base

Contrary to the common belief, not many people speak or use English outside certain geography.

Interestingly, the statistics collected by Internet World Stats reflect why your content shouldn’t solely be in English. While it dominates the scenario, English represents only 25% for internet searches.

horizontal graph with ten blue bars on a white background
source: Statista

Not a small number, however, English’s relative share of cyberspace has shrunk to around 30%, while French, German, Spanish and Chinese have all pushed into the top 10 languages online since 2008.

Language profoundly affects the user experience on the internet. In a pan-EU survey (2011) 44% of respondents feel they are missing interesting information because web pages are not in a language that they understand.

Availability of content in different languages can also affect the user’s understanding and succeeding action.

In an interesting case study of the Tel Aviv, Israel, searching for “restaurant” locally in Hebrew, Arabic and English brought back different results for each language. 

three blocks with a map image and text written on top

Gets Loyal Customers

According to Gartner, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. And language is the secret trailblazer.

“The web doesn’t just connect machines it connects people”


Native language helps companies connect, forge more trust and increase customer satisfaction. In fact, 74% of consumers are more likely to repurchase if after-sales care is offered in their native language.

In fact, there is an undeniably strong link between in-language content and a consumer’s likelihood of making a purchase.

Improves Your SERP

Search engines value quality content and user engagement. By providing your website in different languages, traffic coming from either version will improve the search engine ranking for the whole site, given you are using the right hreflang tags.

It also helps search engines understand your site, as it’s clear which languages you’re providing the content in.

Google doesn’t view the content in different languages as a duplicate, because it has multiple version of itself too.

Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative

The multilingual initiative (started with D8) aimed to rebuild language support from the ground up so that everything in Drupal understood the language from the start.

Drupal 8 offers much more out of the box for building multilingual sites. More powerful than Drupal 7, it has greater flexibility, all without the need for any contrib module.

Providing content translation in an additional 94 languages, the number of modules have reduced from 22 (as in Drupal 7) to 4.

  1. Language: This is the base module needed to allow Drupal to add and choose the language of choice. Natively, it is available in 94 languages.
  2. Locale (Interface Translation): It helps to translate the interface, from both core and contributed modules and themes. It also provides built-in translation UI for easier editing.
  3. Content Translation: This module translates all the content types and content entities including site content, pages, taxonomy terms, blocks, etc., possible with its inbuilt API. Providing the language selector, you can choose your preferred language by selecting the checkbox.
  4. Configuration Translation: Allows you to translate configuration interface, such as of field labels, views, field settings, blocks, panels, etc. It also has a built-in responsive translation interface.

“Drupal 8 is easy and efficient for multilingual businesses.”


Other than the core modules, developers can also take hreflang into consideration. While the core Content Translation module adds hreflang tags only to translated entity pages hreflang module, on the other hand, adds hreflang tags to all pages.

An example of a Drupal 8 multilingual website: 

 Drupal-North-en-Srijan

The Drupal North Website in English

Drupal-North-fr-Srijan

The Drupal North Website in French

Drupal Multilingual SEO Challenges

Multilingual SEO can be intimidating. In fact, it is the elephant in the room, if not addressed, can potentially deflect your overall SEO efforts.

Language and cultural differences, website architecture, content duplicacy are amongst some of the challenges. Understanding these challenges can help marketers come up with better strategies to tackle the problem.

Here’re some of the multilingual SEO challenges and how Drupal helps you fight them off.

Multilingual and Multi-Geo are Different


A multilingual site must not be confused with multi-regional website. A multilingual site can create a ripple effect in the sense that a mistake in the original site will be replicated in all the duplicate sites.

A multilingual website is any website that offers content in more than one language. For example, a Canadian business with English and French versions of its site. Google Search tries to find pages that match the language of the searcher.

A multi-regional website is one that explicitly targets users in different countries. For example, a product manufacturer that ships to both Canada and the United States. Google Search tries to find the right locale page for the searcher.

Some sites are both multi-regional and multilingual: for example, a site might have different versions for the USA and for Canada, and both French and English versions of the Canadian content.


  • Site Structure, Navigation and Menu

    Navigation isn’t just for the viewers. If the navigation structure prevents visitors from easily finding the information it might also be blocking the search engines from indexing the content.

    It’s difficult to determine geo-targeting on a page-by-page basis, so it makes sense to consider using a URL structure that makes it easy to segment parts of the website for geotargeting.

    In Drupal, Entity translation solves the issues related to site structure, navigation and menu by default.

    Each variant has a language assigned and is called an entity translation. It allows (fieldable) entities to be translated into different languages, by introducing entity/field translation.

    It synchronizes taxonomy and fields across translations of the same content. Translation fallback for menus is not configurable by default

  • Content revision and publication workflow

    Content revisioning, proofreading, and approval are part of the critical content editing process.

    The Workflow module allows to create arbitrary Workflows, and assign them to Entities. Transitions between states can be allowed as per the role. For example, a workflow with states of Draft, Review, and Published could be assigned to the story node type. Only users with the role of 'chief editor' can set Stories to the published state.

    You can set up the Workflow to alter states from form, page, comment, a special block, and workflow tab.

    However, the module follows a linear approach. It would need revision if it is not one way.

    Another module, the Workbench moderation suite is modular, allowing site builders to build the workflow that best suits the content administrators on their site. The Workbench suite provides authors, editors, and publishers with a unified interface for managing content relevant to them.

  • User permission and role for different editorial teams

    Since a number of users (read editors) are involved with the content editing a multilingual website, chances of accidents on the website are high. Editors can be clubbed together with set access limits.

    The Group module allows you to create arbitrary collections of your content and users on your site and grant access control permissions on those collections.

    All of the functionality this module has to offer is based on custom entities, opening up the door to various extensions or alterations that the user sees fit. The relationship between a group and its content or users is also an entity, allowing you to easily add metadata to that relationship.

  • Dealing with Duplicate content

    Drupal 8 provides schema out of the box. It is semantic markup text that provides search engines with a basic blueprint to categorically divide and simplify the information by breaking it into simpler blocks for easy description and discovery.

    Schema, in multilingual and multiregional SEO provides each and every language content with same content id letting the search engine know that variations of same content, thus, cancelling out the content duplicacy issues.

    While this feature was part of Drupal 7, it was in the form of separate entity translation plugin, which wasn’t part of the core.

    The main challenge, however, remains how to concatenate content so search engines don’t think it’s duplicate.

    This can be solved with the Entity Translation module which allows entities (such as nodes) to be translated into different languages. It provides field-level translation, so that site builders can select which fields should be translatable. It provides a UI for users to translate these fields into other languages.

  • Path alias

    As a foundational element of the global SEO, URLs need to be determined your multilingual URL structure strategy early on in the process.

    While pathauto module automatically generates URL/path aliases for various kinds of content (nodes, taxonomy terms, users) without requiring the user to manually specify the path alias.

    By default, Drupal doesn’t allow the same URL over translated pages. It can be done by applying the patch and it will run.

  • Content Relevance Building unique vocabulary

    it is vital that you get the translations right. Seldom content relevance can get lost during translation, like the adventure in mistranslation costed HSBC $10 million for rebranding.  

    While the above instance is hilarious, it can be avoided for your digital property. You can build your custom vocabulary with Taxonomy. It is a core module in Drupal 8 and gives your sites use of the organizational keywords known in other systems as categories, tags, or metadata. It allows you to connect, relate and classify your website’s content. In Drupal, these terms are gathered within "vocabularies".

    The Taxonomy module allows you to create, manage and apply those vocabularies. translation module allows translation of taxonomy vocabularies and terms. 

funny-translationExito in Spanish means success, not exit

A word of caution, translate only when the logic prevails. Use separate vocabularies, translated vs untranslated, for different languages to begin with.

Building Multilingual LMS for Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder is a global leader in prestige beauty — delighting its consumers with its transformative products and experiences. It takes pride in focusing solely on prestige makeup and beauty care with a diverse portfolio of 25+ brands distributed globally through eCommerce channels and retail outlets sold in 150 countries. 

We built an open-source, multilingual, decoupled learning platform where beauty advisors could consume a vast set of learning resources.

The Multilingual Challenge

To ensure an effective product training and delivering the information fast knowledge exchange needs to be user-friendly, structured, and in their own language. With more than 25 languages, the LMS needed to provide complete translation of the entire system.

The lack of direct connection between the LMS user and the language demanded that each language be provided for different geography.  

Discover the La Mer Connection LEVELS CONTENT  CHS   La Mer Learning Experience

A video quiz in Japanese

learning level content   La Mer Learning ExperienceA video quiz in English

When designing the solution, we created a relation between market and language, and this worked as a bridge between available language for user selection. With a language and market segmentation/ filter, we could now access information about user activity based on their preference. 

We also helped Estee Lauder reduce 30% cost in classroom training and provided them with solution to track ROI from the learning and training initiatives.

Other Drupal Modules You Can Use

  • SEO Checklist: It uses best practices to check your website for proper search engine optimization. It eliminates guesswork by creating a functional to-do list of modules and tasks that remain. 
  • Real-time for SEO: This module helps you optimize content around keywords in a fast, natural, non-spam way.
  • Taxonomy title: It update the heading tag at the top of the taxonomy term page
  • Menu Attributes: It allows you to specify some additional attributes for menu items such as id, name, class, style, and rel.
  • Search 404:  For pages that do not exist (404), it performs a search based on the keywords in the URL, and shows the relevant result instead of the 404 page. It also includes search engine keywords detections as well as regular expression based term filtering from the URL.
Best Multilingual Practices to Consider from Google 

  • Use different URLs for different language versions
  • Make sure the page language is obvious
  • Let the user switch the page language
  • Use language-specific URLs
  • Targeting site content to a specific country (geo-targeting)
  • Using locale-specific URLs (.in for India)

Conclusion

Multilingual SEO is one of the most complicated and ignored fragments of web marketing. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to provide broader language support. With their adroit skills, our experts save you from the stress and build the best and provide you with innovative multilingual services.

Contact us today, if you are looking to build or modernize your multilingual website without losing the SEO prowess. Drop a mail at business@srijan.net.

Share Your Thoughts

Posts You May Like...