Aileach Digital

Best practice for Bilingual sites in Irish

Considering a bilingual site in Irish? Here are some things to look out for...

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Bilingual SEO Best Practices


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Are you using a multilingual site? Perhaps your are a business based in Ireland looking to use Irish on your website to connect with you audience? Or you run an educational or charity organisation with the Irish language at its core? If so, how much thought have you given to how you site operates compared to a monolingual site? Perhaps you are relying on Google translate to switch between languages on your site? Maybe you’re displaying both languages on the one page? Did you know that both can have a negative impact on your SEO and seriously decrease your page ranking, simultaneously decreasing your site traffic

Google translate - a poor substitute

SEO aside, Google translate is at best, a rough estimate that fails to grasp the complexities and structure of grammar and syntax. If you’re a bilingual or multilingual organisation, poor translation can have a seriously negative impact on your brand, not just your site traffic.

Why do you need to be concerned with SEO in the first place? Maybe you’re a small school or club and all you want is to start your online presence but have no need for the exposure that an extensive SEO campaign can bring.

Fine, but that doesn’t mean your site shouldn’t have SEO features baked in from the start. At the very least, you’ll want to feature on Google – and if you want to feature on Google, chances are you’ll want your site to feature on the first page of the Google search

Most studies show that between 80-90% of users fail to venture past the first page of a Google search. You may quickly realise that SEO may be more relevant than you thought.

SEO and multilingual Web Design

If you’re lucky, and you have a site already, your web designer will have considered the basics for you when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation – metadata, indexing, xml sitemaps, maybe even a few backlinks – although, often this is not the case, with some web designers charging a hefty fee for these ‘extras’.

Many web designers, especially those catering for Gaelscoileanna, claim to create sites that support both Irish and English. Schools often find that these ‘bilingual’ sites are less than ideal and are forced to compromise their content in several ways:

  • adding a mixture of 2 languages on single pages leading to an overload of content, content being duplicated or one language having priority over the other.
  • Using a Google translate bar to automatically translate their content. As discussed above, this can have a negative effect on your site especially if you have displayed the 2 languages on the one page. Google also penalise (ironically enough) automated content – which is “text translated by an automated tool without human review or curation before publishing,” This includes sites translated by Google translate.
  • Pages are sometimes duplicated without use of the hreflang attributes. Duplicate pages that do not follow Google guidelines on multilingual SEO can see their page rankings fall.

Things to keep in mind...

If you are going out of your way to run a multilingual site, chances are you want to be seen and understood. To create a successful, useable bilingual/multilingual website that will perform well from a SEO perspective, there are some important questions you might want to ask your web designer (many of the bilingual websites researched for this post failed to include any of the points below!):

  • Hreflang tabs used in the website’s code to define the language of the site
  • A dedicated language switcher on the site
  • Translated content to be ‘reviewed’ or ‘curated’ by a human before display
  • One language per page
  • Dedicated URLs for different languages on your page
  • Your sites metadata translated for each language


At Aileach Digital, all the above can be taken for granted, at no extra cost. We have dedicated, fluent translators that can accurately translate your content to Irish if needed and our sites are designed to work with any language, if you wish to undertake the translation yourself we can work closely with you to ensure your site operates as it should in whatever language.

Talk to us about your bilingual webdesign project