Q and A: Will building a version of my site in another language create duplicate content issues?

QuestionHi Kalena

I was wondering if you would be able to give me some insight on a question that I have. I am working on launching a spanish version of my company’s website. It’s a mirror of our current site where when a user goes in should they select Spanish they can view the pages in Spanish.

Will this pose a problem to SEO if the pages remain the same name?  Our hosting company has created a new folder where the spanish files sit, and the structure mirrors the English version of the site.   If the spanish version of the website is set up this way, will the search engines consider these duplicate pages?

Thank you,
Heather

Hi Heather

If the mirror pages are in Spanish, then they are not duplicates and won’t be treated as such. Smile! You have nothing to worry about.

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Q and A: Do you need site hosting in each search market you target?

QuestionHi Kalena

I have a client who is going into different International markets. Here are my questions:

1. Does he need hosting based in each country for each project? (please refer to a Google backed up answer)

2. If yes- can you recomend an Aussie based company that can assist with his .com.au site?

Best regards

Paul

Hi Paul

1. As far as Google is concerned, no.  In October 2007, Google released a new feature in Google Webmaster Tools that allows you to associate each of your sites with a specific regional location. Apparently, this works on a per-domain, per-subdomain, or per-directory level, but I haven’t tried that yet.

When used correctly, the tool ensures your site is displayed in country-specific search results and relevant search results for specific geographic / regional queries. From what I understand, this takes a lot of the guesswork out for Google in determining your site’s market, whereas before Google would use the location of your site host and other factors to determine this. So my recommendation would be for your client to set up sub-domains for each country/region they are targeting.

As for a Google backed-up answer, please see Matt Cutts’ post Subdomains and Subdirectories, particularly the comments section where I asked Matt:

“What about sites that target different regional markets? Does it still make sense for them to use sub-domains e.g. australia.site.com, uk.site.com and use the new Regional Association tool in Webmaster Tools to indicate which searcher region each sub-domain should be associated with?”

and he replied:

“Kalena, using subdomains for stuff like fr.example.com or de.example.com is still a great approach, because those sites may be similar in idea, but the language is usually completely different.”

2. Yes, I can recommend lots of lovely SEO helpers located in Australia. If you still need these, please email me again via the big red button.

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Q and A: Do funnel domains work for search engines?

QuestionHi Kalena

I have a question about “Funnel Domains” – getting  a domain that is comprised of a search term and forwarding that domain to a web site. Does this method work and how do search engines view them?

Thanks,

Robert

Hi Robert

Nope, that method doesn’t work. Reasons are here.

Oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Q and A: Is it a good idea to use a different domain for each product?

QuestionHi Kalena

In Lesson 3 of SEO 201, there is a suggestion that “if you sell wool socks AND cotton socks, then have a page dedicated to each kind”.

The owner of the website I’m trying to optimize said that she was once told that it’s a good idea to have several domain names for that same purpose. For example, have a separate domain for wool socks and one for cotton socks. What do you think of that idea?

Jena

Dear Jena

I think that’s a terrible idea. You can read up on this issue here but basically, creating multiple sites defeats the whole purpose of trying to attract traffic and promote a single brand. If you have multiple web sites, not only is it confusing to customers, but other sites will be linking back to several sites instead of your main site/brand and that dilutes your link popularity.

Google and other engines will be looking at the number of links your site has pointing to it and if those links are spread across several domains, you will lose trust-rank and therefore won’t rank as highly as you would if all links pointed to your single site.

I understand the desire to rank for several products, but you can easily achieve this on a single domain if you design individual pages for each product and carefully optimize those pages for keywords relating to each. Alternatively, you can use sub-domains for each product which provides the bonus of having each product page sitting at the root level of your site. Google staff actually recommend using sub-domains in this manner.

More information on this issue can be found in these older posts:

Could purchasing and redirecting multiple domains to our main site hurt us from an SEO perspective?

How do we stop our domains from competing with each other for search rankings?

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Q and A: Do regional domains constitute a duplicate content problem?

QuestionDear Kalena…

First of all I find the info on your site extremely useful –  I always look forward towards the newletter! I have been trying to find the time to do the SEO course but finding the time is always a problem! However, its still on my to do list.

I am trying to sort out a problem regarding duplicate content on my sites. We run local sites for each language/country we trade in (e.g. .fr for France and .co.uk for England). Unfortunately whilst growing the business I never had time to research SEO optimisation practices so I ended up with a lot of sites with the same duplicate content in them including title tags, descriptions etc. I had no idea how bad this was of course for organic ranking!

I have now created unique title tags and description for ALL the pages on ALL the sites. I have also changed the content into unique content for the home page and the paternity testing page (our main pages) for each site in English. The only site with complete unique content pages is .com and parts of .co.uk. For the rest of the pages that still have double content I have also put a NO INDEX, FOLLOW code on the pages that have duplicate content so that the spiders will not index the duplicate content pages. I did a FOLLOW as opposed to NO FOLLOW as I still want the internal links in the pages to be picked up – does this make sense ?

Also having made such changes how long does it normally take for Google to refresh its filters and starting ranking the site? The changes are now about a month old however the site is still not ranking.

Also should this not work – do you have any experience with submitting a re-consideration through the webmaster tools? What are the upside and downside of this?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Regards
Kevin

Dear Kevin

Thanks for your coffee donation and I’m glad you like the newsletter. Now, about your tricky problem:

1) First up, take a chill pill. There’s no need to lodge a reinclusion request to Google. According to Google’s Site Status Tool, your main site is being indexed and hasn’t been removed from their datacenter results. A standard indexed page lookup shows 32 pages from your .com site have been indexed by Google, while a backward link lookup reveals at least 77 other sites are linking to yours. If you’ve put NoIndex tags on any dupe pages, you’ve covered yourself.

2) Next, pour yourself a drink and put your feet up. Your .fr site is also being indexed by Google, but there isn’t a dupe content issue because the site is in French, meaning that Googlebot sees the content as being completely different. Your .co.uk site is also being indexed by Google and again, there isn’t a dupe content issue because it looks like you have changed the content enough to ensure it doesn’t trip any duplicate content filters.

3) Now you’re relaxed, login to Google Webmaster Tools and make sure each of your domains are set to their appropriate regional search markets. To do this, click on each domain in turn and choose “Set Geographic Target” from the Tools menu. Your regional domains should already be associated with their geographic locations i.e. .co.uk should already be associated with the UK, meaning that Google will automatically be giving preference to your site in the SERPs shown to searchers in the UK. For your .com site, you can choose whether to associate it with the United States only (recommended as it is your main market), or not to use a regional association at all.

4) Now it’s time to do a little SEO clean up job on your HTML code. Fire or unfriend whoever told you to include all these unecessary META tags in your code:

  • Abstract
  • Rating
  • Author
  • Country
  • Distribution
  • Revisit-after

All these tags are un-supported by the major search engines and I really don’t know why programmers still insist on using them! All they do is clog up your code and contribute to excessive code bloat.

5) Finally, you need to start building up your site’s link popularity and boost your Google PageRank beyond the current 2 out of 10. And by link building, I mean the good old-fashioned type – seeking out quality sites in your industry and submitting your link request manually, NOT participating in free-for-all link schemes or buying text links on low quality link farms.

Good luck!

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