I want to create a blog where posts can be in various languages. In the current version, I have 209 posts total, with 29 in English and 1 in Italian (the rest is in French).

I've read that Google prefers if you don't mix two or more languages on the same page; so I'm guessing that showing a blog post in Italian means that the interface (links, pagination, title, etc.) has to be in Italian as well.

Most (all?) websites seem to let the user choose a language at the beginning and then allow him or her to switch between translations (ie. Wikipedia)

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My problem is that I would like visitors to see all posts; even those in other languages, even if they don't fully understand it.

I want to do this because :

  • even if most of my users are French, they have a basic level of English, especially since I mostly write about technical stuff.
  • Trying to understand a short paragraph in another language is fun :)
  • Someone who speaks English and French will want to see all posts

But if I mix all the posts together, the user will be very confused when the navigation links switch from English to French, for instance...

Is there a solution to my problem, or should I just compartmentalize languages like every other site ? How can I separate languages without hiding them completely from view ?

  • 2
    "showing a blog post in Italian means that the interface has to be in Italian as well." => It won't be enough : google won't like that the language change from one page to another.
    – Julien N
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 13:45
  • You might want to ask on Webmasters as well in regards to SEO, I'm not sure what Google will think of your site with multiple languages like that.
    – Zelda
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 23:27
  • @BenBrocka: why would Google care about multiple languages on a site, or even on a single page for that matter. I am pretty sure dictionary.com etc. are well regarded by Google. Probably all they care about it correct declaration of languages used. And that might be challenge when using a standard CMS. But only because most CMS's don't cater for multi-language pages or sites (not out-of-the-box anyway). Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 8:58
  • @JulienN: Do you have links to back up that statement? I don't see why Google would care about multi-language sites/pages as long as the headers/meta correctly reflect the language(s) of each page. Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 9:00
  • 2
    I found this: "Although Google can recognize a page as being in more than one language, we recommend using the same language for all elements of a page: headers, sidebars, menus, etc." googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/03/…
    – Manu
    Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 9:02

3 Answers 3


You can provide a short snippet of text for posts that are not writen in the current language and a link labelled "see full content in Italian".

In this way multi-language audiencies interested in the topic do not lose information, and single-languaged people do not get the impression of being lost in the Tower of Babel.


The Home page could display just the post titles as below:

No matter what language certain posts are written in, you can have all post titles in English. Then you could indicate the language of the post alongside as a link to the actual post.

That way the Home page will stay uniformly in English and actual posts would be under the respective language.

  • 1
    Yes. Choose a language that "your blog" is in, regardless of the languages of some individual posts. Keep that consistent and signal the deviations in individual posts. Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 17:02

Depends on the audience, and secondarily on the subject matter. If it has been determined, or it is presumed, that the audience would not be disconcerted by the presence of multiple languages on the same page, whether or not they are able to read every one of them, then at worst there is no disadvantage in doing this.

At best it makes life easier for those in your audience who are versed in the different languages you will be using.

Lastly, this may also be part of your "brand", in which case it will be important to keep it. To borrow some literary examples, one is not surprised when reading, e.g., Jorge Luís Borges, Umberto Eco, Lev Tolstoy, or even Dante, to find sometimes extensive, untranslated passages in a language different than the work's main vernacular.

As far as Google are concerned, they claim not to "use any code-level language information such as lang attributes", and they appear to assign each page to a single language. Whether this would penalise pages on a search or not, however, is not clear. If fact, given the higher entropy of non-trivial multilingual text, I would expect that searches may become more accurate.

In any case, assuming one will be using HTML, it provides extensive support for multilingual content, such as through the use of lang, hreflang, and translate attributes.

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