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I'm making a website for a French audience with haiku poems. They are written in French and translated in Japanese or in Chinese. Only the poems are translated, the rest of the website is only in French.

Is mixing language on the same page bad for SEO? Is it better to display images for the Japanese/Chinese texts?

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No. SEO is about how you structure your page in a friendly way for search engines. The haikus are part of your content. They have nothing to do with SEO, nor can they affect it.

Assuming your target audience is French and that your page indicates to search engines that the language you use* is French you are good to go.

*Meaning your categories, your info, your homepage, etc. Everything but the haikus.

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    Using multiple languages on a page can certainly be a signal to Google that they don't want to index the page or that your site is low quality: Google's One Language Per Page Rule – Stephen Ostermiller Aug 7 '18 at 1:58
  • One could argue this is not a multilingual website though as everything structure wise is in french. – Σπύρος Γούλας Aug 7 '18 at 5:45
  • Yes, there are exceptions. It isn't an absolute rule. Google has said that it is fine to use a few foreign words here and there if it is appropriate for your audience. Google On Using Other Languages On The Same Page I'd think that small poems would be fine because of this. – Stephen Ostermiller Aug 7 '18 at 9:24
  • On some pages (including the header & footer) the Japanese text can account for about 25% of the content. It's more than a few words. It's a tricky case. – Marc Duluc Aug 7 '18 at 10:05

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