Three quarters searching in more than one language, claims study

More than three quarters of people conduct online searches in more than one language, new research shows.


Occupations most readily associated with the Internet – IT and marketing – topped the list of those who are most likely to search in multiple languages.


The study by digital marketing agency Greenlight found that Italy and Spain top multi-lingual search.


SEO director Adam Bunn said: The fact that Italy and Spain top the chart with 100% of respondents claiming to search in multiple languages, despite reasonably homogenised language use, is possibly a testament to the position of English as the quasi-official language of Europe and the relative prevalence of English language web pages.”


Data compiled by Greenlight in 2010 showed that the UK produced the most web pages per head in Europe at 17 pages per person, compared to ten per person in Spain and just six per person in Italy.


“Presumably, as well as there being more English spam on the web, this also means there is more high quality English content to be searched for by Europeans as well,” said Bunn.


The new study asked 500 people – from students, law enforcement professionals, medical staff, accountants, lawyers to the unemployed – how they engage with online advertising, search engines, and social networks, in order to gain insight into how consumers engage with marketers today, and to formulate views on what the future might hold.


Search engines use the domain extension to help them determine the geographical relevance of a site, so while a .co.uk domain stands an increased chance of ranking within the search engine results pages in the UK, it will count against it when people are searching in another country, according to the report.


Consequently, this behaviour may warrant the creation of multiple-language sites for a brand or business, according to Greenlight.


Bunn said: “The point here is that proper research, beyond just gathering a few keywords from the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, really does help to inform SEO strategy. The first step to deciding whether to progress an opportunity is to define the size of that opportunity. This data does give some food for thought.”

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