International marketing

Understanding the languages report in Google Analytics

Understanding the languages report in Google Analytics
Rayne Aguilar
Written by
Rayne Aguilar
Rayne Aguilar
Written by
Rayne Aguilar
Rayne Aguilar
Reviewed by
Updated on
July 7, 2023

If you’ve made your website available in one language, it’s natural to assume that your visitors will also speak that language. But do they all?

The global nature of the World Wide Web means that anyone in the world with an internet connection can visit practically any website in existence – even websites in a language foreign to them. For all you know, you may be getting a significant number of such visitors who speak different languages from you, but they don’t stay on your website for long because they can’t understand it.

To avoid wasting potential sales opportunities in this way, it pays to:

  • investigate the languages that visitors to your website use, then
  • consider creating separate language versions of your web pages to cater to this international crowd.

A report in the Google Analytics platform known as the language report can help with the initial investigation. If you don’t already have a Google Analytics account, take a moment to sign up and connect this web analytics platform to your website – it’s free.

With that out of the way, let’s explore the language report in Google Analytics – what it is, the data it offers, and how you can use it to expand into new markets.

What is the language report in Google Analytics?

The language report is one of the standard reports available in Google Analytics. It can help you understand issues such as:

  • The countries your website users are from and the languages they speak: If you receive many users who speak a certain language, then you might want to offer a version of your web pages in that language!
  • The number of users who visited the various language versions of your web pages over a time period: The more popular such pages are, the larger your customer base who speaks that language may be. You may therefore want to dedicate more resources toward serving that customer segment.
  • How international users interact with your website, such as the pages they visit and the average time they spend on them.

If you are using a Universal Analytics property to track data in Google Analytics, you can access the language report by clicking the “Audience” option in the left sidebar, followed by Geo > Language.

Where to find the language report in Google Analytics

If you’ve just connected Google Analytics to your website, you may need to wait a few days or weeks for your language report to start populating with data. That’s because Google Analytics starts to collect data from the date you’ve installed it on your website, and not before.

Language codes and country codes: what’s the difference?

As you browse your language report in Google Analytics, you may notice values with the “[two letter code]-[two letter code]” formatting in the Language column. Such as:

  • en-us
  • en-gb
  • en-ca
  • fr-ca

The first two letters in the value are language codes that represent different languages. For example, “en” represents the English language, while “fr” represents the French language. These language codes aren’t specific to Google Analytics but are adopted from the ISO 639-1 language codes drawn up by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Meanwhile, the second two letters in the value are country codes based on the ISO’s set of ISO 3166-1 country codes. For example, “us” refers to the United States, while “ca” refers to Canada.

Putting both codes together, you’ll have a good idea of which country a user is from and the language they speak. If you see “en-us” in the language report’s Language column, for example, you are likely receiving English-speaking users from the United States.

(We say “likely” because the data may not be completely accurate. More on this in a bit!)

That said, values in the Language column may also consist of only the language code, such as only “en” or “ja.” This indicates that Google Analytics managed to capture only the user’s language and not their country.

Wondering why? This next section has the answer.

How does Google Analytics collect a user’s language information?

Google Analytics references a user’s language settings in their web browser to determine their preferred language and the country from which they are browsing a website.

Language settings in Chrome web browser

Since users have a hand in selecting their language settings, these settings may not accurately represent their language and country. For example, an English-speaking user from the United Kingdom may have accidentally set their language to “English (United States)” instead.

Alternatively, a German speaker from Germany may be trying to brush up on their French. In this case, they may temporarily switch their language setting to just “French” (without a country indicator), and send an inaccurate signal to Google Analytics on the language they typically use.

Keep this limitation in mind as you evaluate your Google Analytics language report data!

What data is available in Google Analytics’ language report?

Apart from displaying the languages that users in certain countries are using, Google Analytics’ language report can also provide data on metrics such as:

  • Users: The number of users with a certain language and country setting who have started at least one session on your website over a given time period. (A session is generally a 30-minute time frame during which a user interacts with your website.)
  • Pages per session: How many page views do users rack up in an average session? This figure could shed light on the users with a certain language and country setting who are engaging with your website more.
  • Average session duration: The average amount of time users spend on your website. Users who clock a higher average session duration could be more invested in your website content (and hence worth targeting). That said, take the average session duration figures with a pinch of salt: Google Analytics can record this metric only if users visit at least two pages on your website.
  • Bounce rate: The percentage of users who leave your website after viewing just one page. A high bounce rate could indicate that users left because they didn’t find your web pages useful. On the other hand, they could have left after getting the information they needed! Try to interpret your bounce rate in the right context so you don’t spend resources fixing something that turns out to be a non-issue.

The above sounds like a lot, but we’ve only just scratched the surface here! By customizing your language report, such as adding a secondary dimension or advanced segments and filters, it’s possible to get even more detailed insights into how users all over the world interact with your web pages.

It’s worth learning how every feature of Google Analytics works – and there are many of them – if you want to make the most of this powerful platform.

Grouping the language variants in Google Analytics’ language report

When you view your language report with the default settings enabled, your users will be split into separate groups based on their specific language and country settings. For example, you’ll have one group of “en-us” users, one group of “en-gb” users, and so on.

But if you want to focus on just your users’ language settings for the time being, you can create a Google Analytics view with a regular expression filter that groups different language variants into just one language category, such as “en.” (This blog post goes into the steps in more detail.)

With this setup, you can get an overall view of the languages your users speak without getting bogged down by their country settings. This is helpful if your priority is identifying which languages to translate your web pages to, before you undertake language localization based on your users’ countries of origin.

Using the insights gained from your language report to reach new markets

When you’ve used the insights from your Google Analytics language report to decide on your next steps, use a website translation solution like Weglot to take action on them.

For example, if the language report suggests that many users from Korea are visiting your website, you may want to translate your web pages to Korean to better serve this user segment. Using a proprietary mix of machine learning translations, Weglot can help translate your website content into Korean (and over 110 other languages) instantly and with a high degree of accuracy.

These translations are stored in a central Weglot Dashboard for your refinement before you add them to your website. For search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, Weglot also adds hreflang tags to each translated page. These bits of code help search engines better direct searchers to the appropriate language versions of your web pages.

Finally, if you’re setting up your translated pages in subdirectories (instead of subdomains), these pages will automatically appear in your Google Analytics reports – including your language report. You’ll be able to analyze the performance of your translated pages as you work on expanding your brand presence in new markets.

Get started with the Google Analytics language report

The Google Analytics language report provides essential intel on the languages that visitors to your website use and the countries they’re from. As you review the report, adding advanced segments and filters can help you drill down on the precise data you need for your analysis. And once you’ve got a good picture of whether your website caters to your users’ language preferences, you can go on to take action.

If the findings call for translating your web pages into multiple new languages, Weglot’s website translation solution is just what you need. It detects, translates and displays the content of your website using a first layer of machine translation coupled with full edting control and translation management tools, significantly cutting down launching a multilingual site. You can then use Google Analytics to monitor the traffic to these translated pages, the average time spent on them, and more, to ensure that you’re providing the best possible user experience on your website.

Weglot is compatible with leading website platforms such as WordPress, Shopify, and Webflow, and you can try it on your website for free here.

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