Multilingual Search: what’s the big idea?

World map

One of the biggest areas of growth at Blueclaw is multilingual search. Over the last two to three years we have seen increased demand for strategies that have a multilingual dimension – and implemented numerous successful campaigns around the world.

As Head of Business Development I am constantly asked by companies: where is the international growth online? And where should our focus be?

So I decided to put together a few stats that will help alleviate some myths and hopefully pose a few questions that will help you decide whether multilingual PPC and SEO should be part of your strategy. Last year I posted about how it is easier than ever to enter into an international marketplace because of the internet. Being able to offer your product abroad via PPC is a total no-brainer. You can switch the campaigns on and off, run trials and even outsource the work without even having to open a store in that country.

So what are stats? According to there are 196 countries in the world, 193 of which are members of the United Nations. According to the BBC there are approximately 7,000 different languages spoken around the world and 90% of these languages are used by less than 100,000 people. Approximately 150-200 languages are spoken by one million people; Papua New Guinea has no less than 832 different languages and 46 languages have just one speaker!

Where is the growth? The UK government has said that the UK is unlikely to see any significant economic growth until 2015, but It has been widely reported by many economists that global growth lies with the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China). JP Morgan reports that India will outperform all of them with emerging market equities giving you a return in excess of 15% in 2013. Asia has approximately 2,200 of the world’s languages, while only 260 can be found in Europe.

So should we be throwing all our ad budgets at Asia? Out of the top ten largest economies in the world Europe is on an equal footing with Asia, listing four sovereign nations each. However in comparison, the US and Brazil currently account for approximately 35% of the total wealth generated by those top ten.

Forty-five per cent of all online users come from Asia compared to 34% from Europe and North America combined, and the fastest growing economies of 2012 (excluding China who were 3rd) came predominantly from  the Middle East and Africa, with Iraq being the Number 1 and Sierra Leone number 2.

So what languages should I target? The British Council report that 1 in 4 people in the world speak some form of English, which is clearly a huge advantage to UK business and other English speaking countries. It is also recognised that English is the second language of choice in India after Hindi, and Portuguese is the official language for ten different countries including Brazil. If you were to add Russian, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, French and German to the list you would be covering the majority of the speaking world along with nine of the world’s largest economies. That would involve just translating your website into eight different languages other than English.

So after I have blitzed you with the stats and pointed out there is global growth outside the UK, what do you do next? Identifying the opportunities and translating your site are only the first steps. You now have to look at optimising your site in regional versions of Google and local search engines such as Baidu (China), Naver (South Korea) and Yandex (Russia). And that is worthy of another blog post – or twelve!

If you’d like to talk about multilingual search at Blueclaw please get in touch.

about the author: "Blueclaw is a search marketing agency that provides data-driven SEO, PPC and content marketing solutions for mid to large sized businesses in travel, finance and igaming as well as a number of other sectors. Founded in 2004, Blueclaw has a wealth of experience and expertise that spans both the creative and technical aspects of online marketing."
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