How Google Search handles multilingual searches

Friday, September 8, 2023

In many countries and regions around the world, people commonly speak and search in more than one language. To best serve them, Google uses a variety of ways to automatically determine what is the best language or languages to show search results in.

How Google automatically determines the language for search results

It is understandable that some people might assume Google Search will only show results that match their language settings, but this is not as helpful as it sounds.

Browsers, mobile devices, and computers all have their own separate language settings. This means it's possible that someone has their browser set to one language, and their mobile device or computer set to a different language.

Google Search also has a language setting, but this is for display language — the language used for the buttons and menu text that appears around the search results. The search results themselves are not forced to match the display language. This is for a good reason. About half the people searching with Google are multilingual and often search in a language that doesn't match their settings.

Instead, Google Search considers all these settings and other factors to automatically determine what languages would be most helpful to show results in. This means multilingual searchers don't have to constantly change one or more language settings to get results in the different languages they may use.

For example, someone in France can search in French, English, or Arabic and expect to get results in the appropriate language. Similarly, due to typing difficulty on some keyboards, a person in India might search in Hindi using Latin rather than देवनागरी (Devanāgarī) characters but want and receive Hindi results written either way.

Sometimes, helpful results can be shown even if they are in a language that's different from a person's settings or the language they searched in. This may happen if our systems recognize a search is coming from a locati