February 29, 2008, 12:00 AM

More companies are globalizing their web sites

The average company surveyed offers web sites in 20 languages, versus 15 in last year`s survey, reports Byte Level Research in its annual globalization report. Google, which offers search in 100 languages, again ranked first among 225 companies surveyed.

A growing number of companies are creating country-specific web sites in local languages, and increasingly making their sites consistent from one market to the next, according to the 2008 Web Globalization Report Card from research firm Byte Level Research.

“In 2002, I was happy to find a web site that supported 10 languages,” says John Yunker, author of the report. “This year the average number of languages supported by the 225 web sites reviewed is 20.” In 2006, the average was 15. Eight of 10 companies surveyed now have Chinese-language web pages, up from 50% in 2005, and Chinese is now the sixth most common language on the sites reviewed.

More companies are using a consistent template for their sites. 62 sites had a perfect score in the consistency category this year, versus 28 last year. “As companies support more and more localized web site, there is simply no way of getting around the need for some global consistency,” Yunker says.

Google, which offers search in 100 languages and its Gmail e-mail application in 40, again took the top spot in the Byte Level Research ranking. Companies are ranked by how quickly site visitors can find local content, the consistency of the site across languages, how relevant the site is to a particular culture and country, and how many languages a company supports.

Among companies that sell to consumers online, Microsoft was eighth in the globalization ranking, Hewlett-Packard ninth and Panasonic sixteenth. HP is No. 5 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and Panasonic No. 158. Microsoft is not ranked in the Top 500 Guide because it does not break out its online sales.

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