Alacrify Ltd

Setting Website Language for International Websites


9th April 2010

Setting Website Language for International Websites

When you're setting up a multi-language website there are many pieces of the jigsaw that need to be put in place in order to get the site picked up as relating to a particular language.

First it's important to make sure that all the text (as far as possible) on the site is actually written in the relevant language. If too many words creep in from another language (usually the designer's mother tongue!) then the search engines will be less convinced by the authenticity of the translation.

Once this is done then it's important to get the header tags right. These are the document identifiers that tell the visitors which language the site is written in. The search engines use these to establish the language of the site.

Each language reference is two characters - EN for English, CZ for Czech, FR for French etc. A full list of these ISO 639-1 language codes can be found here:

They are then used in headers like so, replacing the {ISO} element with the relevant ISO language code.

<html xmlns="" xml:lang="{ISO}" lang="{ISO}">
<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="{ISO}" />

These then indicate to the search engines and your visitors' browser which language your site is written in.

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