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Multilingual search strategy

baggsy asked 1 year ago
Hi all,

I’ve been trying to get my head round the topic of multilingual, or at least pan-European, search strategies over the past couple of weeks and was wondering if anyone can see any major flaws in my logic. I’m not bothered so much about letting the cat out of the bag by telling eveyone my thoughts, as there are enough markets out there for everyone to compete in.

I’ve a good .com domain including keywords that will be as universally understood as any one domain can (I reckon), and am looking to target traffic from around the globe. I’m thinking I can create subdomains to target each country, such as fi.mysite.com and se.mysite.com, create 15-20 pages on each, in Finnish and Swedish respectively, point those subdomains as targeting Finland and Sweden in Google’s webmaster tools and then i’m off and running….! Am I right so far?

But I’ve also heard that focussing your pages by language rather than country will result in less work for me and a better user experience. For example, having a ch.mysite.com could pose a problem as the Swiss speak German, French and Italian – which content would I show? I could just offer all three languages on the ch.mysite.com site, but that would cause duplication issues.

Or if I chose not to have a ch.mysite.com site, and just showed the localised content from the it.mysite, de.mysite.com and fr.mysite.com, how would I geo target the Swiss people in Google.ch using webmaster tools? Throw into the mix that the Swiss would want to read about jackpots in Francs and everyone else has Euros, and my head starts to melt a little bit… :Cry:

I’m guessing I’d have the same issues for the South American countries – having a es.mysite.com site would take care of the language issues (excluding the regional dialects), but would not allow webmaster tools geotargeting to the individual countries.

I guess my main question is, should I continue down the route of having a subdomain strategy led by geography, or can I be a little more clever and look at a language-based strategy?

Congratulations for reading this far – you deserve a cup of tea while you think of:

  1. What’s he talking about?
  2. How can I help? :wink-wink

Thanks all,

Baggsy

10 Answers
GaryTheScubaGuy answered 1 year ago
baggsy,

Just read my post on Top 12 SEO Tips for 2009, its right there. I think I also did one on Geotargeting on this thread as well. If noyt I have it at http://www.garythescubaguy.com or send me a PM and I’ll send it to you.

baggsy answered 1 year ago
GaryTheScubaGuy;199557 wrote:
Just read my post on Top 12 SEO Tips for 2009, its right there. I think I also did one on Geotargeting on this thread as well. If noyt I have it at http://www.garythescubaguy.com or send me a PM and I’ll send it to you.

Hi Gary,

Thanks, though I’m a little embarassed to say that I read your article, and although it was covered the topic in depth, I’m still a little stuck. Maybe it’s just me being daft!

On your article, I’m not sure I read how (or is it even possible?) I could target say Spanish speakers through a es.mysite.com subdomain, but still have it geographically targeted to multiple South American countries through webmaster tools?

I could create a subdomain for Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Colombia etc, or I could create a Spanish language subdomain for them all – but using this second option, I believe I’d find it difficult to rank in Google.com.mx (for example) as the site will not be hosted in Mexico….

Sorry if i’m being dumb.

Thanks

Baggsy

webber286 answered 1 year ago
It’s a tricky question and one I haven’t tackled yet either, but from my understanding of general SEO principals, you should be using sub-folders rather than sub-domains. Google treats a sub-domain as an entirely different website, meaning you would be starting from scratch for each of the sub-domains for building links and search rankings. Essentially no different than getting a new URL for each website.

Using sub-folders, you get the benefit of starting from the strength that your root domain has already built. Then, with a few well targeted links to the sub-folders, you should enjoy stronger rankings out of the gate. Webmaster tools allows you to geo-target a sub-folder, so there isn’t an issue there.

The main question is are you targeting specific countries or are you targeting languages. If you are targeting countries, then assigning a geo-target in webmaster tools will allow your site to be found in Google France, Google Spain, etc. If you are just creating language specific pages, then people searching in those languages should be able to find you. It gets fuzzy for me when it comes to the question of will you show up in Google France with a .com domain that has French text on it. Maybe someone else can chime in on that.

GaryTheScubaGuy answered 1 year ago
Baggsy,

Use subdirectories to target language-based search. Get some links from TLD in the regions you are targeting pointing at each subdirectories pages. Do not use geotargeting in Webmaster Tools.

Use subdomains WITH geotargeting turned on and get backlinks from TLD’s in that region, and in a perfect world also get it hosted in the target country.

WagerX answered 1 year ago
Gary,
I just checked out your blog. I learned a lot. You have a lot great content. It was interesting to see some of your tips and strategies, and see where I have been making mistakes. I especially liked the language targeting and the geo-targeting strategies. I have to go back and read more!

Thanks for sharing.

baggsy answered 1 year ago
Thanks guys.

I was a bit of a muppet and didn’t realise that I could geotarget subdirectories AND subdomains through webmaster tools….

Anyway, i’m thinking of going down the ‘country’ route rather than ‘language’ for the most part, though might change my strategy if I ever target Belgium and Switzerland.

GaryTheScubaGuy answered 1 year ago
baggsy;199659 wrote:
Thanks guys.

I was a bit of a muppet and didn’t realise that I could geotarget subdirectories AND subdomains through webmaster tools….

Anyway, i’m thinking of going down the ‘country’ route rather than ‘language’ for the most part, though might change my strategy if I ever target Belgium and Switzerland.

You can’t target language based searches with subdomains. Well you can but its going to be very weak. You need to keep your .com TLD non-targeted and build TLD links to it. DO NOT use geotargeting on your .com

Build subdomains, host them in the target sountry, build links from TLD’s and language-based sites – regardless of their attributes. Then geotarget them in WMC.

GaryTheScubaGuy answered 1 year ago
Just so we are straight here…..you cannot target regions with subdirectories.

webber286 answered 1 year ago
Google Webmaster Tools claims you can target sub-directories with different geographies. You just need to setup a sub-directory as a new site in Webmaster Tools. Haven’t done it myself, but that’s what they claim.

GaryTheScubaGuy answered 1 year ago
webber286;200285 wrote:
Google Webmaster Tools claims you can target sub-directories with different geographies. You just need to setup a sub-directory as a new site in Webmaster Tools. Haven’t done it myself, but that’s what they claim.

I knew you could do that in the US on .com’s but not on subdirectories.

Please let me know i this is actually the case (geotargeting with sub directories)

Cheers.

Gary