Language/multilingual sites

“We do not need a Dutch website. All our visitors speak English.” This is something you hear a lot, and it does seem logical at first. But if you know how search engines work, you will know that a large number of potential visitors will not be able to find you if you do not have any Dutch webpages. Even if there is just one Dutch word in a search query, users will not be directed to an English website. 

BASIC RULES

PAY ATTENTION TO SEARCH ENGINE REQUIREMENTS: THIS IS HOW MOST OF YOUR VISITORS WILL FIND YOU

Do not underestimate the importance of being easy to find. 60-80% of the visitors of many websites arrive at the site via a search engine. So it is really important that users are able to find you easily. Search engine optimization is a discipline in its own right, so we have created a whole page dedicated to this topic.

KEEPING LANGUAGES SEPARATE

One of the most important rules of search engines is that different languages must be kept completely separate on a website. 

If not, then there are strong consequences. In the best-case scenario, your page will decrease in the search engine’s ranking. However, in many cases multilingual webpages do not even appear in Google’s results. Users will not be able to find your website at all. 


Professors sometimes call us because users cannot find their webpage via Google. The answer is simple: if you use multiple languages on one page, then there is a chance that Google will block the page.Online Media/WebHare servicedesk

IN WHICH LANGUAGES DO YOU WANT TO BE FOUND?

Think carefully about which users you want to be able to find you. If your department is called ‘Public Administration’, but you want users in the Netherlands to be able to find you if they search for vakgroep bestuurskunde or onderzoek bestuurskunde, then you need a Dutch website, consisting of at least one page. For more information, see the section on creating a website for each language below.

HOW MUCH IS PERMITTED?

A list of a few keywords in a different language is not a problem, and project or article titles may also be written in a different language. However, it is better to avoid writing complete sentences or paragraphs in a different language.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MAKE YOUR WEBSITE EASIER TO FIND?

CREATE A WEBSITE FOR EACH LANGUAGE

For your website to be found by users searching for Dutch terms such as bestuurskunde, bedrijfskunde, wijsbegeerte, scheikunde and ondernemerschap, you need to have a Dutch website. You cannot place a Dutch page on an English website, because Google views the English menu and the Dutch content as a multilingual website, which is not permitted.

The managers of WebHare can create a separate Dutch website for you. In most cases, a page containing the most important search terms with which you want users to find you will be sufficient. See, for example, the Philosophy department’s Dutch landing page.

USING THE RIGHT SEARCH TERMS ON THE WEBSITE

Think carefully about what people will google if they want to find your website. What will they search for? For example, the University of Twente used to have a webpage about healthcare for students. This page was not found because students searched for ‘general practitioner’. There is also a page about courses for staff, but the word ‘course’ is not even mentioned once on the home page. This means that users are not able to find the page when they search for ‘University of Twente courses’. You therefore need to compile a list of search terms that you would like to lead to your page. You may want to include the names of well-known professors, projects and educational programmes. Make sure these words feature prominently on your page - do not just mention them once in a body of text, but make sure they are repeated and include them in headings, titles, subheadings or bullet points. 

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY PAGE CAN NO LONGER BE FOUND?

Make sure your page meets the requirements described above. Delete any text written in a different language. Once you have done that, go to www.google.com and search for ‘submit page to Google’. The first result will give you the option to paste a URL in the box and resubmit it to Google. With a bit of luck, users will be able to find the page again within 15 minutes. Otherwise, this should take a maximum of 1 to 2 days. 

Please send any questions to onlinemedia (@) utwente.nl.