Top 10 languages to use on the internet in 2023

Written on 23 January, 2023

 

Whether you are just starting out or are already running a global business, your online presence plays a vital role in taking your products and services to the right audience. The value and reach of your message increases the moment you start to make use of the global platform that is the internet. Your website, your social media posts and all other online avenues that carry your brand name are now the biggest influencers for your customer. However, with increased competition and changing consumer behaviour, customisation is key if you want to stand out from the crowd. This includes delivering your message in the consumer’s language. 

“The Web does not just connect machines, it connects people” – Tim Berners-Lee.

According to Statistica, as of April 2022 there were more than five billion internet users worldwide, which is 63.1 percent of the global population. 

A recent survey of around 9,000 global consumers was conducted in 29 countries by CSA Research. It discovered that around 76% of online shoppers would go for products that have information in their native language. Interestingly, 40% of the participants said they will never buy from websites in other languages.

 

So, the question is, which language(s) should your online content be in? Even though it usually depends on your specific target market, the question becomes far more pertinent if you want to venture into the global marketplace. Logic might dictate getting your content translated into these ten most spoken languages across the globe, so that your products and services get the most coverage.

Top 10 most spoken languages 2022

English

Used in 94 countries by 373 million native speakers, and being the main language of the United States and an official language of the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa, to name a few, English is the essential language for business.

English also still ranks highest in the list of the most commonly used languages among internet users at nearly 26%. Have a look at this list:

 

Most common languages used on the internet 2023

 

However, having once been the lingua franca of the internet, English’s share of digital space has diminished somewhat, with Chinese, Spanish and Arabic all pushing into the list of top online languages.

Chinese

Closely following the US economy, China has witnessed significant growth and expanded its reach across the world market, whether it’s for pharmaceuticals, engineering, technology or consumer goods.

Also, with the largest number of native speakers, you just can’t ignore this language in the digital sphere. As of January 2022, China had topped the list of countries with the most internet users, with more than triple the amount in the United States!

Spanish

Spanish is the official language of 20 countries and the native tongue of 460 million people across the globe. The United States has the second-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. Along with other Spanish-speaking countries, such as Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, it offers a whole gamut of business opportunities.

There are currently 344 million Spanish-speaking internet users in the world, a number that is expected to grow with the predicted growth in purchasing power of the Spanish-speaking countries.

Arabic

In addition to pure native speakers in the Middle East and parts of Africa, Arabic is spoken by over 400 million people as a second or foreign language.

Internet access has continued to grow in the Arab-speaking regions. According to a World Bank report, an estimated 66% of the population in countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) use the internet. Also, with trade initiatives such as the ‘Digital Silk Road’ between Saudi Arabia and China, there is growing demand for digital content in Arabic.

 

Arabic language

Indonesian

Indonesia has the tenth largest eCommerce market with a revenue of 56 billion USD in 2021. Also, with a growth of 58%, it contributed to the global growth rate of 18% for eCommerce in 2021. This gives you an indication of the growth of Indonesia’s digital economy, further adding to the importance of Indonesian as a language of the World Wide Web.

Portuguese

The growing economies of Brazil and Portugal drive the value of Portuguese in a commercial context online. 67% of the Portuguese speaking population globally is connected to the internet, of which Brazil and Portugal are the major players. However, only 3.5% of online content is in Portuguese, providing greater opportunity for international businesses to deliver their digital message in these consumers’ native language and appeal to the Brazilian and Portuguese markets.

French

French is the official language of over 29 countries throughout the world and the European Union as a whole. This automatically makes it a vital business language for the UK, considering in 2021 around 42% of all UK exports by value were delivered to the European Union.

Also, most French-speaking countries, including France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg, have seen a consistent rise in eCommerce. In France alone, revenue from the eCommerce market is expected to reach 106.50 billion USD this year.

Japanese

Currently, Japanese is spoken by over 120 million people around the world, with more than 90% of these speakers living in Japan.

In October 2020, the UK Government signed a new trade agreement with Japan. This deal is projected to grow trade by £15.7 billion over the coming 15 years. It will benefit UK companies’ exports across several sectors, such as agriculture, food and drink, manufacturing, digital, and financial services.

So, to reach out to the 116.3 million internet users in this potential market, having your digital marketing and business content translated into Japanese can prove hugely beneficial.

Russian

The historical influence of the Soviet Union has ensured Russia remains an official language of the United Nations. It is also commonly used in some of the post-Soviet states that are now growing economies and offer many business opportunities.

According to Ethnologue, there are around 258 million Russian speakers in the world. Despite the digital growth in Russia and other Russian-speaking countries, only 5% of Russians speak English and Russia’s overall level of English language proficiency is still ranked as ‘low’. This means that to attract Russian-speaking consumers, your business should be conducted in Russian.

German

Germany has one of the largest economies in Europe with a massive online presence. There has been a steady growth in the number of internet users in Germany in the last decade. By 2022, there were around 67 million people in the country using the internet.

Many other countries with developing or developed economies, such as Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, also have German as an official language. So, having your content in German will open up a large market for your products and services.

If you are thinking about having your website content, marketing collateral or business documents translated into any of the above languages, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our award-winning team!

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Written by Marya Jabeen