How Does Google Treat Multiple Languages Used In A Page?

Do you use multiple language or terms on your pages? Wondering how Google treats such pages and what effect it could have? Check out wha John Mueller has to say
Marie Aquino
January 25, 2022

In the Google Search Central SEO Office Hours Episode last January 21, a user asked how Google treats a page that uses two or multiple languages on a single page.

As a backgrounder, the user is referring to their Dutch website, which sometimes uses English terms or text in their content, mixed with their main content in Dutch. How does Google deal with two languages on a page that is not separated by hreflang?

John Mueller responded that if you just have a site in the main language (Dutch, in this case) with some English terms in it, you wouldn’t use hreflang.

In practice, what happens with these pages that have two or more languages being used is that Google will try to understand the primary language being used on the page. They will understand that sometimes, there are words in different languages as well. Google will still try to focus on the primary language, if it can be determined, based on the content on the page.

If it cannot determine the primary language, then multiple languages might be used and assigned to the page. You can see this multiple language assignment when you do a site query for the site and then go into the advanced search settings, and specify the language. You can sometimes see which language is being recognized for the site. If you try other languages, you might see that the site is being recognized for multiple languages (Dutch and English), which doesn’t mean that it has less weight in Dutch, just that Google recognizes the mix.

According to Mueller, the one situation that he would watch out for is if the page is recognized as being in a language that is not correct.

As an example, he provided an English site on vacation homes in Spain with addresses and places in Spanish terms, and then Google thinks the page is in Spanish. It will be hard for Google to rank the page if someone is searching for vacation homes in Spain because they think the page is in Spanish instead of English, which is what the searcher is looking for.

Looks like we don’t need to worry if multiple languages are used on a page, so long as the main language used is still recognizable.

Check out the SEO Office Hours episode: