The Internet is much more dynamic than it was 10 years ago. Today, it is a much bigger, much more diverse and accessible place. According to Internet World Stats, there are now 3,345,832,772 active Internet users in the world. That’s almost half the world population. So what languages do they speak?
Currently, about half (48.1%) of all Internet users are in Asia; nearly a fifth (18.1%) are in Europe; another 10.1% are in Latin America and the Caribbean; 9.8% are in Africa; 3.7% are in the Middle East; and 0.8% are in Oceania and Australia. These millions and millions of users speak a wide range of mother tongues.
If we look at the W3Tech’s ranking of languages for published web content available, we’d see that the number of English speakers on the Internet has actually started to decrease.
Here are the most common Internet languages for January 2017:
- English– 52.3%
- Russian– 6.4%
- Japanese– 5.7 %
- German– 5.4%
- Spanish– 5 %
- French– 4 %
- Portuguese– 2.6%
- Italian– 2.1%
- Chinese– 2 %
- Polish– 1.7%
- Turkish – 1.6%
- Persian – 1.5 %
The list goes on, into even smaller fractions of below 1.5%. Just keep in mind that these percentages represent the distribution of global web content according to language of publication.
Statistics represent the billions of people who are online and looking for content in their native language. The available web content will be understood in English but multilingual content is rapidly growing. From an eCommerce perspective, multilingual websites would make you more competitive and create better growth opportunities. Then which languages should your business invest in?
According to the most recent numbers reported by We Are Social, the 10 countries with the largest number of active Internet users are:
- China– 668 million users
- India– 350 million users
- USA– 280 million users
- Brazil– 110 million users
- Japan– 109.6 million users
- Russia– 87.5 million users
- Indonesia– 72.7 million users
- Germany– 71.7 million users
- Nigeria– 70.3 million users
- Mexico– 59.2 million users
Did you notice that the U.S. is the only country in the Top 10 where English is the main native language?
With millions of new users gaining access to Internet every year, the world of business can’t help but be transformed to eCommerce. It has become a truly global phenomenon. And the revenue is growing every year. Before you decide which languages to invest in, you’ll need to do some market research. You need to make an informed decision about which countries or regions offer the best opportunities for your particular business. This depends on the type of products or services you offer.
If your goal is to reach out to the greatest number of potential customers worldwide, here are the top 10 languages for global eCommerce:
You may decide to invest in one or more of these languages. Or you may find that certain other languages would actually make more sense for your website or e-shop.
In the end, no matter which languages you choose, always keep in mind: getting your content translated is just the first step. You also need to accommodate local cultural values, SEO, currencies, payment methods, etc. That’s why investing in localization can make a huge difference.