SEO Tip #99: How Should I Handle Localized Content?

  • SumoMe

Let’s say I want to add multiple languages/countries to mysite.com. Would I be better off including all translations within mydomain.com or would I be better off creating mydomain.fr, mydomain.nl, mydomain.ca, etc.?

Matt Cutts: Well mydomain.ca is Canada so if you’re English you don’t need to translate that one unless you wanted to add a lot of local color to it. But for example if you had French, German, Dutch or something like that absolutely I would translate that and make sure I don’t autotranslate that to make sure that it would read right to a normal user. Then if possible I would put it on separate domains, mydomain.fr and mydomain.nl.

Why do we recommend that? The reasons are number one it’s a lot easier for a search engine to tell this entire domain is related to this language or this particular country. The other reason is it’s easier for users. You’d be surprised how well someone will respond a little more if it resonates with them and they say, “Hey this is a local business. It’s not just some translation over on a random.com site.”

Now that does cost a little more and it opens you up to a little more overhead. It takes a little more time but if you’re a big enough business where you can afford to get the domains in other countries I would recommend that.

If you can’t do that you can always make for example a subdomain, fr.domain.com. But if you have an easy choice and you can get the full domain in a different country leveled a TLD, Top Level Domain, I would probably do it that way.

One last point of caution, there is a lot of people who might think, oh I’ll just translate all my content into 40 different languages and now 40 different language markets can all read what I have to say. I’m making clear right now that our guidelines about auto-generated stuff can also apply to auto-translated text.

If you’re searching in French and you show up on a page and it’s been completely auto-translated, it doesn’t read well at all and no one has put any type of human care into proof reading it or making sure that it flows that’s really a bad experience. So we would prefer that you maybe add a widget that says, “Translate into this language” or something like that, rather than auto-translate into a bunch of languages and just throw that content up there.

So those are a few things to bear in mind whenever you’re thinking about which domains to go with. You can always use Google Webmaster Tools if you want to go ahead and specify if you have a .com relevant to a particular country but if you have a top level domain for that country then it’s a pretty inescapable signal that this is really relevant to that particular market.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.

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