International websites need at least 16 languages to be competitive online

A recent report by the Common Sense Advisory states that global companies need to have multilingual websites in order to compete on an international scale.

According to the report, an English-only site can be read by 23.2% of the global online population. Making it readable in simplified Chinese adds 22.3% and Spanish 9.0%.

Online consumers speaking the top ten languages collectively control 85% of the economic buying potential of the world’s online audience, the report says. “Language is an essential consideration for companies that seek to drive behavior of potential customers on foreign-language web sites, whether they’re targeting consumers or business buyers,” the report says.

Common Sense Advisory found that of the 1,000 web site properties it studied, the top 100 made site content available in at least 16 languages. In rank order, the top five sites are Google, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia and Mozilla

HP, Canon, Apple, Dell, Starbucks and Lancome also appear in the top 100 websites.