Managing multi-language and multi-regional sites

This post belongs to a series about search engine optimization (SEO) with Magnolia CMS. Today we look at managing multi-language and multi-regional sites.

Multi-language sites offer content in multiple languages, and allow you to extend your reach to a global audience. Estimates are that 73% of web users do not speak fluent English. Regional sites target specific geographic locations, and normally have a country-specific domains such as .de, .co, or .uk.

For multilingual sites, best practice is to ensure that your content appears in search results for the appropriate language:
  • Use the targeted language consistently throughout the page. Render all content and navigation in that language.
  • Serve language-specific content at a separate URL. Use Unicode encoding.
  • Avoid cookies to display translated versions.
  • Avoid automated redirection based on the user's perceived language, as this could prevent a crawler from viewing all language variations.
For multi-regional sites, best practice is to ensure that your site appears in search results for the targeted country:
  • Use a country-code top-level domain name such as .de or .cn. This is a strong indicator to users and search engines that the site is intended for a specific country.
  • Include local contact details, currency, and language in the site's content.
  • Host the site on a server within the targeted country.
You can manage multi-language and multi-regional sites in a single Magnolia instance, while adhering to all best practices. A multisite configuration ensures that language is used consistently across multilingual sites. Redirection based on user's perceived language is not used.

Individual sites are configured in site definitions. In the example below, demo-project is a multi-lingual site that serves content in English and German, while demo-project-de is a site targeted at a German speaking audience only. Internationalization (i18n) configuration accommodates multiple languages. Both of these sites extend the default site, inheriting common elements, facilitating rapid site deployment.


A language selection dropdown allows editors to select the content authoring language:


Since navigation is generated from content, links display in the correct language, provided the content is translated:


Where built-in precautions fail due to editor error, a fallback language can be used to ensure that at least some of the content is rendered.

From SEO perspective, it is best when a crawler finds all language-specific content in one directory. Magnolia accomplishes this by injecting a language identifier in the URL.

LocaleURL
Fallback language     www.example.com/article.html
Germanwww.example.com/de/article.html
Frenchwww.example.com/fr/article.html
Spanishwww.example.com/es/article.html

With domain name mapping, this can be easily changed to de.example.com/article.html if needed.

Content can also be exported into a CSV or Excel file and handed to translators. Other export formats are pluggable and can be written to support custom formats. The exported file includes context information and a link back to the original content to facilitate translation. Translated content can be imported back into the system with the same mechanism.