Research has revealed that Europeans tend to engage with search engines in more than one language.
Conducted by digital marketing agency Greenlight, the global Search & Social Survey (2011-12) questioned 500 people on how they engage with marketing today. The respondents varied in profession from students through to lawyers and were based around the world.
The results showed that Italy and Spain were the countries in which people are most likely to search in multiple languages, with all of the respondents from these locations stating that they do so.
Adam Bunn, director of search engine optimisation (SEO) at Greenlight, expanded: "The fact that Italy and Spain top the chart with 100 per cent of respondents claiming to search in multiple languages, despite reasonably homogenised language use, is possibly a testament to the position of English as the quasi-official language of Europe and the relative prevalence of English language web page."
He suggested that people operating online businesses might want to consider developing multiple websites in order to capitalise on this trend. For example, a search engine will use the domain name extension on a website to determine its geographical relevance; so somebody searching in Spain is more likely to see results from websites ending with .es, even if they were actually looking for a website in the English language from a .co.uk address. Building the .es address could help deal with this problem and capitalise on English-language search traffic from Spain.
However, this advice is to be taken with a pinch of caution. Google is well-known for penalising sites that feature duplicated content, so be sure to differentiate your two sites if you consider going down this path.