Jun 19

IN THE NEWS: Do people conduct online searches in more than one language?

Photo Credit: Guttorm Flataba (flickr.com)

Like many other second generation Asian Americans who are born and raised in the states, I know enough Mandarin Chinese to converse with my relatives or travel around China. However, reading traditional Chinese characters is not exactly my strong suit. And because they speak so rapidly (and dramatically?) I honestly cannot understand a single word actors say on those Chinese soap operas.

I only conduct online searches in English. But according to results from a global survey conducted by digital marketing agency Greenlight, 76% of people search for information in more than one language.

The survey asked 500 participants about their interactions and usage of search engines, social networks and online advertising. The participants had diverse backgrounds, ranging from students to lawyers to medical staff. The objective of the research was to understand how consumers engage with marketers today.

Belgium, Italy and Spain came out on top with the number of respondents who searched in more than one language. Italy and Spain were especially surprising because these countries have a relatively homogenized language. Belgium was not as surprising because it has more than one official language.

Taking SEO into consideration, international brands and organizations should look into establishing multiple language sites for their business. However, PR Newswire states that “This of course runs counter to traditional SEO logic which states that duplicate content is bad – which it is – so this would have to be undertaken with some caution, ensuring that all content is properly localised so that search engines know that one version is intended for region A, the other for region B.”

An article on Search Engine Watch said that for brands to be truly global and effective with social media, namely Twitter, they should be tweeting across multiple languages. 9 out of 10 European internet users prefer browsing in their own language. Therefore, if you want to engage consumers in other countries, you need to converse with them in a language they’re familiar and comfortable with. Although English is spoken in many different countries, it does not mean it is the preferred language.

The article gives five tips for companies who wish to create multilingual Twitter accounts:

  1. Have separate feeds/follows
  2. Integrate with a translation service
  3. Don’t forget LOCAL content (the old adaptation-standardization debate)
  4. Post regularly
  5. Interact with followers

Do you online search in more than one language? We’d like to know! Leave a comment here or direct message us on Twitter (@the_RPG).