[thelist] Multi-language site structure

Kimberley Rivero kimberley.rivero at gmail.com
Tue Dec 22 13:38:27 CST 2009

If I am keeping all languages under the same domain then I build
multilingual sites by separating the content for each language into
separate directories.  I use the two letter abbreviation for each
language as my directory name, like this /en/ (English), /es/
(Español), etc.  Keeping it short like this makes it easy on the
developer to keep track of content, but doesn't make URLs stupidly
long (leaving you room for nice SEO-friendly and user-friendly URLs).

The two-letter language abbreviations are here:

If it's critical that each language do well in search engines in
distinctly different locations then it's smart to consider using
separate domains for each language.  For example a site in Spanish
with a .com.mx domain may have better shot at ranking well on Google
Mexico than a .com would.  But I wouldn't put an English language site
aimed at  US market on a .com.mx domain.  Something to consider for
sites in highly competitive and/or localized markets (like tourism).

For proper search engine indexing be sure to set the language for each
page in the head section.

Also be sure to include buttons to switch from one language to another
and make sure those buttons are IN the target language.  So the
English button should say "English" and the Spanish button should say
"Español."  This way your users only have to find their own language
name IN their language and you not are requiring them to know what
their language is called in another language (that was confusing to

None of the multilingual sites I've built have 1 to 1 content, not
even if the the client was 100% positive they would.  So make those
language switch buttons go to the home page of the target language.
The markup is simpler this way and it's more intuitive for users too.

If you are needing a multilingual CMS there's a nifty WordPress plugin
that does a nice job with multilingual sites, it's called WPML.  Info
here: http://wpml.org/  I've used it successfully for a number of
sites and clients seem to be able to understand how to use it without
much training.

Hope this helps, Kim

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