While English still continues to be seen as the lingua franca of the internet in 2022, the internet is now truly living up to its title of the “World Wide Web” with billions of users all speaking different languages all over the globe.
For brands aiming for international success, crafting user-centred experiences for potential customers around the globe is fundamental - and so too is a customer-first view of translation and localisation.
Offering services only in English can make your service inaccessible to a large proportion of the market and decrease its effectiveness in those it can reach.
Just look at this study by the independent market research firm CSA Research called “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy”.
The study indicates that 65% of consumers trust a website more in their native language and 40% of those interviewed said they would not buy any products in a foreign language - the trust factor cannot be underestimated.
If looking to target the largest multilingual audiences, where should your brand consider starting? So, here are the top 10 languages with the most internet users, to give you inspiration on where to digitally expand your business.
It isn’t much of a surprise that English tops the list. 25.9% of users are English speakers with over a billion people according to a study by Statista.
Chinese has the most native speakers in the world and makes up 19.4% of internet users. In 2021 Chinese reached the dizzying heights of English when over a billion people in China were now using the internet making it one of the most popular new markets to unlock through translation and localisation.
iHola internet! Spanish is spoken in numerous countries around the world, far beyond Spain, and makes up 7.9% of internet users. Spanish is also a popular language for content creation by the users themselves and is the second most used language on YouTube.
Arabic has seen the fastest growth of any language on the internet in recent years. 7 years ago it did not even reach the top 10 languages but now has an estimated 237 million users. It is predicted this growth will continue, making Arabic an important language for many businesses.
It may surprise you to see these languages on the list but with an average internet penetration of 78.75% between the two countries they make up 4.3% of users. Indonesian and Malaysian are often popular language choices for many of our clients.
Like Spanish, Portuguese of course isn’t just contained to Portugal and its internet presence is boosted by the mega country of Brazil where 75% of the population uses the internet. Portuguese is also spoken in some countries in Africa such as Angola.
The dialects of European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese have quite a few differences and although they can be understood by each other they should be localised separately by a native linguist from each country such as those we have here at ICS-translate.
Many think of French as a common lingua franca so some may be surprised to see French so low down on the list. French is classed as an official language across 29 countries although it has landed at number 7 in the list with 3.3% of internet users, a total of 151,733,611 users.
Around a whopping 93% of the population of Japan were internet users according to research done by Statista in 2019, (a number which will have likely grown in the past few years), putting it at the 8th place on the list. If you would like to hit the Japanese market then the internet is definitely the way to go.
Russian is one of the fastest growing languages of users on the internet and as of March 2020 had 116 million users, making up 2.5% of internet users.
As well as in Germany, German is the official or co-official language in Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium and Liechtenstein.
The German speaking population has an extremely high internet penetration, take Germany for example where 94% of the population are internet users.
Another interesting fact is that the list of popular languages on YouTube slightly differentiates from our list here.
Within the top 250 YouTube channels, 66% of the content is in English, 15% in Spanish, 7% in Portuguese, 5% in Hindi and 2% in Korean.
Top Languages in the World - Summing Up
ICS-translate has professional native speakers of all the languages mentioned in this article plus 90+ more!
We are an ISO 17100:2015 certified company meaning whichever languages you would like translated you can be confident we offer a quality translation service.
Furthermore, in partnership with our sister brand, ICS-digital, we have the capability to underpin all the translations with a bespoke SEO strategy that will help you be discovered by your target audience on an international scale.
Contact us today to find out how we can help your business reach customers worldwide.