Website localization: Should you build a multi-domain localized website, or a single-domain one?

With our time being spent more and more online, many businesses have shifted their attention towards the internet realm, to access the global market and the numerous potential new clients. 

 

In today’s blog we’ll talk about website localization, and we’ll help you choose between a multi-domain localized website and a single-domain localized website. 

 

Intro

In this day and age, being a business and choosing not to be on the internet would mean missing out on the many advantages that the web can bring your way.

 

If you are a video game publisher or distributor, you already know what video game localization is, and you also know the importance of building an online presence. For that, you decided to build your own website to better connect with your audience. 

You probably also know about the impact of localization on consumer behavior, if you don’t, you can either check out this survey called “Can’t read, won’t buy” or our own linkedin post about it, where we summed it up just for you.

Lastly, you know the significant impact that localization can have on your business, and that’s why you decided to localize your website to attract more customers from all over the world. 

But you find yourself at a crossroads.

 

What’s better? A multi-domain localized website, or a single-domain localized website?

What are they? Why are they different? Does it even matter which one you choose?

Well, let’s jump right into it.

Multi-domain Website Localization

A multi-domain multilingual website is a type of structure where different language versions of the same website are hosted separately on different domains. The differentiation and independence of each domain is what gives this approach its benefits, but it also has its downsides.

Pros

Tailored branding

You can tailor and customize each domain separately, based on the preferences of each market, without affecting other versions. With this approach, every domain will be specifically adapted to resonate with a particular audience.

SEO

Search engines will see each website as a different entity, allowing you to create different content and use different keywords based on cultural and linguistic nuances, potentially improving search rankings in each market. Not every language works the same, and particular keywords that rank well in a particular market, may be irrelevant to another.

 

Independent marketing

It allows you to market, run campaigns and promotions independently, without impacting other marketing teams and other website versions. This way, you’ll be able to exploit each market’s preference to maximize your results.

Cons

Increased costs

Managing multiple domains will cost you more, not only in domain registration and hosting expenses, but also in marketing campaigns and SEO strategy, which as we say, will require unique and undivided attention.

Risk of inconsistency

If not closely managed a multi-domain approach could lead to a fragmented brand identity, that could subsequently lead to inconsistent user experience across different platforms. To make it simple, your brand identity, core value etc. could vary significantly from domain to domain.

Management difficulties 

Handling multiple domains can definitely be challenging, with no possibility of centralized management. It also requires the deployment of more resources, both human and financial, making it a real headache for smaller businesses.

 

To wrap it up

To sum it up, with a multi-domain website localization approach you will have more freedom to create custom content, tailored specifically to the audience you intend to reach. With that freedom however, comes more work, more expenses and the risk of a fragmented business identity. For bigger brands, with more resources available, this may not be an issue, but for smaller businesses it can get tricky.

Now that you know some of the advantages and disadvantages of a multi-domain multilingual website and you weighed in both pros and cons, let’s analyze the single-domain multilingual approach, for an even comparison.

Single-domain Website Localization

A single-domain localized website is, like the name suggests, a structure where the localized versions of a website are all under the same domain, and they are typically managed through subdirectories. This means that wherever the user tries to access the site from, they will land on the same domain, with language specific content presented through the different subdirectories.

Pros

Much cheaper 

A single-domain approach will be more cost-effective, both in terms of domain costs and managing costs, with the possibility of centralized management. This option may be more appealing for smaller businesses, with tighter budgets and resources.

Unified brand image

Utilizing a single-domain will keep brand image and user experience consistent across the different versions and markets. This approach can result in a stronger relationship between customer and brand.

Backlinks advantage

Any backlinks acquired by any of the language versions will increase the overall authority of the domain. This effect can improve global search engine rankings, increasing your visibility.

 

Easier management

Managing only one domain will be much easier compared to a multi-domain approach. With a single-domain approach you can centralize management, making it easier to handle updates and marketing initiatives across the different versions. This means reduced workload and reduced need for human resources.

Cons

Limited content adaptation

While this approach offers consistency, it can restrict market-specific content adaptation. Due to less customization, marketing campaigns may be effective in some markets, but fail in others.

Risk of reduced local relevance

A generic domain might not be as relevant to local audiences as a country-specific domain. This can affect local brand awareness.

Complex structure

Navigating different currencies, metrics, and cultural nuances within a single website can be challenging. This complexity can impact the user experience negatively, potentially leading to lower engagement.

To wrap it up

So, with a single-domain website localization approach, you’ll be able to maintain a consistent user experience, and a more unified brand image, alongside easier management and less expenses, optimal for smaller businesses. However this approach will lead to less freedom when it comes to content adaptation.

Conclusion

Deciding between a multi-domain localized website and a single-domain localized website is ultimately a choice that will significantly impact your business and brand. As we’ve seen, both approaches come with their distinct advantages and disadvantages. The choice largely depends on your business’s resources, scale, and objectives.

 

For larger enterprises with the resources to manage complex structures and a desire to deeply penetrate varied markets with tailored content and marketing strategies, a multi-domain approach might be the most beneficial. This route caters to the unique preferences and behaviors of each target market. 

 

On the other hand, smaller businesses or those with limited resources may find a single-domain localized website more practical. This approach simplifies management, reduces costs, and maintains a consistent brand identity across different markets. It’s ideal for businesses looking to expand their global reach despite tighter budgets.

 

Consider your budget, technical capabilities, and the time you can dedicate to managing your online presence as the optimal choice depends on your business’s specific needs, goals, and capabilities.

 

By carefully considering the pros and cons of each approach, you can make an informed decision that supports your global growth strategy and ensures a positive and relevant experience for your international audience.

What are the main advantages of a multi-domain localized website?

A multi-domain localized website allows for tailored branding, better SEO optimization for each market, and independent marketing strategies.

How does a single-domain localized website benefit my business?

Choosing a single-domain localized website offers cost efficiency, a unified brand image, the advantage of consolidated backlinks for SEO, and simpler management.

How does website localization impact my business's SEO and global market reach?

Website localization significantly impacts SEO by increasing your site's visibility in search results across different languages and regions. For a multi-domain approach, having separate domains for each market allows for highly targeted SEO strategies, leveraging local keywords and content that resonates with each specific audience. This can improve your rankings in local search results, making your business more visible to international customers.