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seo for multi language website


Managing multi-regional and multilingual sites

If your site offers different content to users in different languages, countries, or regions, you can optimize Google Search results for your site.
Background:
·         multilingual website is any website that offers content in more than one language. For example, a Canadian business with English and French versions of its site. Google Search tries to find pages that match the language of the searcher.
·         multi-regional website is one that explicitly targets users in different countries. For example, a product manufacturer that ships to both Canada and the United States. Google Search tries to find the right locale page for the searcher.
Some sites are both multi-regional and multilingual: for example, a site might have different versions for the USA and for Canada, and both French and English versions of the Canadian content.

Managing multilingual versions of your site

If you have identical content in multiple languages on your site, here are some tips for helping users (and Google Search) find the right page:

Use different URLs for different language versions

Google recommends using different URLs for each language version of a page rather than using cookies or browser settings to adjust the content language on the page.
If you use different URLs for different languages, use hreflang annotations to help Google search results link to the correct language version of a page.
If you prefer to dynamically change content or reroute the user based on language settings, be aware that Google might not find and crawl all your variations. This is because the Googlebot crawler usually originates from the USA. In addition, the crawler sends HTTP requests without setting Accept-Language in the request header.

Tell Google about your different language versions

Google supports several different methods for labeling language or region variants of a page, including hreflang annotations and sitemaps. Mark your pages appropriately.

Make sure the page language is obvious

Google uses the visible content of your page to determine its language. We don’t use any code-level language information such as lang attributes, or the URL. You can help Google determine the language correctly by using a single language for content and navigation on each page, and by avoiding side-by-side translations.
Translating only the boilerplate text of your pages while keeping the bulk of your content in a single language (as often happens on pages featuring user-generated content) can create a bad user experience if the same content appears multiple times in search results with various boilerplate languages.
Use robots.txt to block search engines from crawling automatically translated pages on your site. Automated translations don’t always make sense and could be viewed as spam. More importantly, a poor or artificial-sounding translation can harm your site’s perception.

Let the user switch the page language

If you have multiple versions of a page:

·         Consider adding hyperlinks to other language versions of a page. That way users can click to choose a different language version of the page.
·         Avoid automatic redirection based on the user’s perceived language. These redirections could prevent users (and search engines) from viewing all the versions of your site.

Use language-specific URLs

It’s fine to use localized words in the URL, or to use an Internationalized Domain Name (IDN). However, be sure to use UTF-8 encoding in the URL (in fact, we recommend using UTF-8 wherever possible) and remember to escape the URLs properly when linking to them.

Targeting site content to a specific country (geotargeting)

You can target your website or parts of it to users in a single specific country speaking a specific language. This can improve your page rankings in the target country, but at the expense of results in other locales/languages.

To geotarget your site on Google:

·         Page or site level: Use locale-specific URLs for your site or page.
·         Page level: Use hreflang or sitemaps to tell Google which pages apply to which locations or languages.
·         Site level: If your site has a generic top-level domain (for example, .com, .org, or .eu), specify your site's target locale using the International Targeting reportDon’t use this tool if your site targets more than a single country. For example, it would make sense to set the target as Canada for a site about restaurants in Montreal; it would not make sense to set the target as Canada if it also targets French speakers in France, Canada, and Mali.
Remember that geotargeting isn’t an exact science, so it's important to consider users who land on the "wrong" version of your site. One way to do this could be to show links on all pages for users to select their region and/or language of choice.
Do not use IP analysis to adapt your content. IP location analysis is difficult and generally not reliable. Furthermore, Google may not be able to crawl variations of your site properly. Most, but not all, Google crawls originate from the US, and we do not attempt to vary the location to detect site variations. Use one of the explicit methods shown here (hreflang, alternate URLs, and explicit links).

Using locale-specific URLs

Consider using a URL structure that makes it easy to geotarget your site, or parts of it, to different regions. The following table describes your options:
1.     A top level domain (TLD) for each region you plan to target in that language (a.k.a. ccTLDs). These look like this: example.fr, example.de, etc. This option can be expensive, but it makes the geo-targeting very clear.


2.     Generic Subdomains (gTLD) is one way to keep your current URL and skip the more expensive option above. You can easily create a URL like so: fr.example.com, however, it might not be as clear about the geo-targeting.



3.     Generic Subdirectories is another option that works well. The URL structure, in this case, would look like this: example.com/fr/URL or example.com/de/URL, etc.

Handling duplicate pages with multilingual/multi-regional sites:-

If you provide similar or duplicate content on different URLs in the same language as part of a multi-regional site (for instance, if both example.de/ and example.com/de/ show similar German language content), you should pick a preferred version and use the rel=canonical element and hreflang tags to make sure that the correct language or regional URL is served to searchers.


Creating content in multiple languages:-

There are a few common scenarios when creating content in multiple languages. Determining which of these matches your situation is key to making the right decision when building your site and tackling your website SEO.
The three main scenarios we see when building multi-language websites are:
  • Multiple languages serving the same country.
  • Multiple languages serving no specific country.
  • Multiple languages serving multiple countries.

Multiple languages serving the same country
Canada is a good example, since it is one country with two official languages, English and French.
Here we could have a single website serving a single country with multiple languages. In this case, we would want to use a .ca country code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) for Canada to automatically geo-locate the site and then have content in English and French to target French- and English-language queries.

To ensure the search engine understands your site, geo-targeting and language targeting multilingual SEO tactics should include:
  • ccTLD for the country being served to benefit from default geo-targeting.
  • Single website with language-specific content in subfolders English and French: /en/ & /fr/.
  • Site hosted in the country that is being targeted.
  • Hreflang tags specifying language and country.
  • Links from relevant specific language websites.
With all of these steps followed, a search engine has all the pointers needed to know that this content is for English and French language speakers in Canada.

Multiple languages serving no specific country

Here we have a situation where we are targeting users based predominantly on their language.
We are not concerned if an English speaker is in the UK, the US or Australia or any other English language speaking location (small differences in spelling aside).
We don’t care if this is an Englishman in a country that speaks another language. As additional languages are added, they target speakers of that language around the world with no geographical bias.
Imagine a company that provides a software solution around the world. This business will want to have content in each language and have search engine users find the correct language version of the content.
So, an English speaking visitor in the UK, the US, Canada or Australia would all get the same content. A French speaker in France or Canada would also get the same French content.
The tactic we recommend in this scenario is a single site with the following multi-language SEO tactics in place to support the desired ranking goals:
  • A generic TLD such as a .com that can target multiple countries.
  • Single website with language-specific content in subfolders (e.g., /en/, /fr/, /de/).
  • Site hosted in primary market with an international content delivery network.
  • Hreflang tags with language-only specified (not location).
  • Links from relevant specific language websites.

Multiple languages serving multiple countries
This is where things can get a little more complicated because we may have multiple versions of the same language with nearly duplicate content, so technical configuration needs to be 100 percent accurate.
We may have a site in English and French, and we may have an English language section for each of the UK, the US, Australia and Canada, along with a French page for France and Canada.
  • www.example.com/ — US, English (default).
  • www.example.com/gb/en/ — UK, English.
  • www.example.com/au/en/ — Australia, English.
  • www.example.com/ca/en/ — Canada, English.
  • www.example.com/ca/fr/ — Canada, French.
  • www.example.com/fr/fr/ — France, French.

Tactics here for a single site include:
  • A generic TLD such as a .com that can target multiple countries.
  • Default location and language (US English in this example).
  • Country-specific subfolders (gb/, au/, ca/, fr/).
  • Language-specific subfolders below the country-specific subfolders (gb/en/, ca/fr/).
  • Site hosted in primary market with an international content delivery network.
  • Hreflang tags with language and location specified.
  • Relevant links from location- and language-specific websites.

This is a straightforward way to achieve the targeting of multiple languages in multiple locations.



1.     A top level domain (TLD) for each region you plan to target in that language (a.k.a. ccTLDs). These look like this: example.fr, example.de, etc. This option can be expensive, but it makes the geo-targeting very clear.


2.     Generic Subdomains (gTLD) is one way to keep your current URL and skip the more expensive option above. You can easily create a URL like so: fr.example.com, however, it might not be as clear about the geo-targeting.


3.     Generic Subdirectories is another option that works well. The URL structure, in this case, would look like this: example.com/fr/URL or example.com/de/URL, etc.


After you’ve decided on the URL and Domain structure of your website, you’ll want to add the new version of your site to Google Console so that you tell Google that your site has more than one version/language now.
You can read more about how to this from Google Support right here.

Next, there is the server location to consider.

Another significant factor in driving geo-targeted traffic is your server location. If your target country for traffic is the U.S. (United States), you will want to host your website on U.S.-based servers. If you’re targeting traffic from Australia, host your website on Australian servers.
Example:
·        U.S.-based servers: BluehostSiteGround
·        India-based servers: HostGator India
Conclusion: Google prefers to rank websites in a specific Google country search engine that is also hosted in that same country.



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