Q and A: Will my Foreign Language site be considered Duplicate Content?

Question

Dear Kalena,

We have a website written in English that we like. However, it cannot be seen in China. In order to generate Chinese business, we will have to write a new website, and have it hosted by a Chinese hosting company.

The site will be written in Chinese characters. The layout of the site will be different, as well as the pictures, picture description and alt tags. It will also be done on a template, as is our first website. However, we really do like what the English website content says. We used Google translator on the content of our site, and discovered it gave a very accurate translation of the English site. We would like to use this translation, with a few modification, but really do not want to have a problem with duplicate content on Google. Our intent is just to do business in the Chinese market. Any advice you can give us will be most appreciated.

Best regards, Tony

Hi Tony,

Duplicate content is certainly an issue that website owners need to take into consideration when creating their sites.  Whether content is sourced from third parties (which may often be the case for product based sites), or re-used from another of your own sites (which you have effectively done) care needs to be taken.

There are some specific circumstances where duplicate content will not be a problem – and you have touched upon two of them in your question.

Translated Content

Even though 2 separate pages may be saying exactly the same thing, and the content is effectively “the same”, a Chinese language page, and an English language page will not be considered duplicate content by Search Engines – even if they are on the same domain and hosted on the same server.

As you are probably aware, automatic translation tools are notoriously unreliable, and although they can often give a translation which provides a reasonable understanding of the original content, I’ve rarely seen a perfect translation – some manual adjustment will almost certainly be necessary.  I suggest that you have the content reviewed and updated by a native Chinese speaker before you include it on your Chinese site.


Country Specific Domains / Hosting

It’s a surprisingly little known fact that sites with different domains and hosted in different countries, are unlikely to incur duplicate content penalties – even though they may contain the same content.  At SMX Sydney last year – this was confirmed by both Google and Microsoft.

So even if your Chinese hosted site with a Chinese specific domain was in English, you would be unlikely to encounter any duplicate content issues.

So, in the circumstances that you describe – i.e. a translated site, with a separate domain and hosted in a separate country, you will be quite safe and will not incur any duplicate content penalties.

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

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