Mastering Sitecore Multilingual: Best Practices, SEO Tips & Implementation Tricks

*Updated on 12/14/23

Sitecore supports multi-lingual capabilities out of the box with the ability to easily set-up, manage, and render content in different languages.

I will not discuss the technicality of how to set-up a multi-language site, instead this post will be focused on the tips & tricks for things we found useful in our numerous implementations.

As a general rule of thumb, plan, and define with the business stakeholders the architecture and rules such as tree structure, custom languages & regions, and language fallback.

In this article, I will list some tips about common situations and features we have implemented for our clients.

Amercaneagle.com is the leading expert in creating powerful and engaging customer experiences. With over a decade of experience in Sitecore implementation and hosting, our team's in-depth knowledge of the platform's latest features and capabilities – combined with our strategic expertise in UX design, digital marketing, and more – allows us to deliver comprehensive and impactful digital solutions.

When it comes to Sitecore, we are the ideal partner for your needs. Check out more details about our expertise on our Sitecore Development page!

Tips & Tricks for Sitecore Multilingual Implementations 

Add Custom Languages

In several cases, you will need to add custom languages that are not defined in the OS or Sitecore. For example, you may need to add a region (ex: EN-EU) and fallback other languages to this custom language.  I found Freddie’s article very helpful and it covers the topic well: "Sitecore Custom Language Registration and Fallback."

Enhance the Content Editor Experience

One feature I found to be very handy for the author is filtering the Content tree based on the selected language. You can do this by extending “Sitecore.Shell.Applications.ContentManager.ContentEditorForm”.

filter current language only

 

Enable Sort Language

When you have a long list of languages, consider enabling a sort language in the content editor and in the forms. Authors will love it and it is very easy to implement!

Content Editor

<!-- CONTENT EDITOR SORT LANGUAGES Indicates whether the Content Editor show languages in the language selection dropdown in the same order as /sitecore/system/Languages child items. Default value: false -->

<setting name="ContentEditor.SortLanguages" value="true" />

Forms

To help extend Sitecore’s OOTB Form module, please refer to this article which we have found very helpful: "Sort languages in Sitecore 9 Forms Builder language dropdown."

Copy Language Script

This is a handy PowerShell script that enables the authors to copy any items and its descendants from one language to another. When you add a new language for an item, it doesn’t carry over data from another language; this script provides a quick way for authors to start with an existing language’s data.

copy language

SEO Considerations for Multilingual Sites

Language and SEO consideration (Hreflang and Canonicals)

This topic can be one of the most important from the business and marketing prospective as doing it incorrectly can damage a site’s search engine ranking and might lead to being penalized for duplicate content.

Language is a highly relevant signal to search engines about how and where to rank content, the site should utilize the proper tags (rel=”alternative”) to serve up the appropriate language / translated content based on the selected location and language by the user.

Quite often search engines have difficulty differentiating similar languages (US English vs UK English) which can result in duplicate content problems and potentially lead to being penalized. To prevent this, you will need to ensure that the same or similar content served on different URLs in the same language utilizes the proper canonical tagging to show search engines which content is preferred. 

Hreflang alternate tags are used to identify all language variants of each page on a site. These tags are placed in an array in the <head> section and list out each variant of a given page, including the page itself.

This can be tedious for the author to maintain manually so it should be handled in code.

In the quest for customers, one thing is crystal clear: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is everything. At Americaneagle.com, we take a comprehensive approach to ensure results. By crafting compelling content and leveraging technical strategies, we catapult your keyword rankings and put your brand at the top of search results. Check out our search engine optimization services page for more details.

Sitemap Generator 

Similar to Hreflang & Canonicals, having an up-to-date, well formatted sitemap is essential for any successful SEO strategy.

We use an Extended Sitemap engine originally based on the Sitecore market place sitemap module. It automatically generates the sitemap.xml & robots.txt, virtually, for each country, and maintain its content for each language separately.

The author should have the option to include/exclude specific templates and items in the generated Sitemap.xml

templates


At the item level the author should also have the flexibility to exclude it or to set-up the frequency and the priority.

sitemap

url

 

Post Implementation Check

After adding a new language, it would be a good idea to review the schema.xml to double check the dynamicField mapping. Otherwise, Solr will not operate correctly for that specific language.

I hope you found these tips about features we have implemented for our clients helpful!

Sitecore Multilingual FAQs

What is Sitecore Multilingual and why is it important for global businesses?

Sitecore Multilingual is a feature within the Sitecore Content Management System (CMS) that allows website administrators to easily create, manage, and deliver content across multiple websites, locations, and languages. For global businesses, it ensures that content is culturally relevant and accessible to a diverse audience, enhancing user experience and expanding market reach. 

What are some best practices for implementing Sitecore Multilingual?

Best practices include: Setting up a language fallback strategy for efficient content translation. Another best practice is using shared content and templates to ensure consistency across all language versions of the site. It’s also important to keep SEO in mind so the website site is easily discoverable by users in different countries and languages. Sitecore multilingual allows you to track user behavior across different language versions of your site. By using language-specific analytics, you can gain insights into how users interact with your site in different languages and tailor your content and marketing campaigns accordingly.  

How can I optimize my multilingual Sitecore website for search engines (SEO)?

To optimize a multilingual Sitecore website for SEO: Use a proper URL structure. Each language version of your Sitecore website should have its own URL. Use Hreflang tags, they are HTML attributes used to indicate to search engines which language and regional versions of a webpage should be displayed to users based on their language preference and geographic location. Also, you should optimize content, meta tags, and alt text for each language. Finally, build language-specific backlinks to improve domain authority in different regions.

Are there any common pitfalls to avoid when implementing Sitecore Multilingual?

Yes, common pitfalls include: Multilingual Sitecore implementations can be complex, and failing to plan properly is almost always a recipe for failure. If you don’t set up proper language fallbacks, it can lead to content gaps. Neglecting to update all language versions of a page after making changes is another common pitfall. Overlooking the importance of localizing not just the content, but also the design, images, and cultural references is another issue. Use consistent naming conventions, avoid unnecessary complexity in your site structure and content organization, and ensure that translated content is handled in a straightforward and easy-to-manage way.

How do you get the most out of Sitecore Multilingual?

Leverage Sitecore's personalization features to deliver language-specific content based on user behavior and preferences. You can integrate it with third-party translation management systems for streamlined content translation workflows. Use Sitecore's analytics to track and analyze user engagement across different language versions and, finally, implement a content approval workflow to ensure quality and consistency across translations.

What's Next? 

Americaneagle.com is an expert Sitecore development partner with 10+ years of experience developing Sitecore websites. If you're considering switching over to the Sitecore platform or need with your current Sitecore website, please get in touch with us at (877) 932-6691 or fill out our short contact us form. 


About Author

Naim Al
Naim holds a Bachelor Degree in Information Technology and an MBA in Finance. He started his career in programming in 2001 building desktop financial applications. In 2004 he shifted his focus to develop websites. In 2016 Naim joined Americaneagle.com as a Senior Sitecore Developer. In 2020 Naim won the 1st place in Sitecore Hackathon 2020 competition with American Eagle XTeam Winner, over 82 teams from more than 23 countries were participating. When he is not coding, he likes to spend time with his wife and two kids, watching TV, or relax in his backyard.


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