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Websites with Multiple Language Versions

An important element of international SEO is about ensuring websites are successfully targeting the intended language and providing a positive user experience while also ensuring search engines are able to find and index the relevant content. Our Hangout Notes cover insights from Google around language targeting, as well as best practice recommendations.

For more on international website optimization, check out our further resources:

The Ultimate Guide to International SEO

An SEO’s Guide to Hreflang Tags

The Challenges of Website Internationalization for Users & Search Engines

The Most Common Mistakes in International SEO

Getting Your International Website Structure Right

How to Create a Successful International SEO Strategy



Consider Number of Language Variations When Deciding on Approach to Internationalization

Consider the number of language variations when deciding how to configure international versions of a website. If there are many versions you may want to let the user decide which version they want to view, but if there are only a few versions you may be able to guess for them.

9 Jul 2019

Make Pages Accessible to Googlebot For Each Language Version of a Page

For sites with redirects based on the user’s IP or browser language, John recommends having landing pages available for each individual language, including hreflang on each with an x-default to the main page.

9 Jul 2019

Use Hreflang & Canonical Tags to Handle Partially Translated Websites

John recommends using canonical tags and hreflang tags to tell Google which language version is preferred if you only have parts of a website that are translated, instead of the entire site.

5 Mar 2019

Same Language Country Versions Can Cause Problems With Location-specific Information in SERPs

Google swapping out URLs for same language country versions of a page can be problematic when the title or structured data shown in the SERPs includes location-specific information, such as pricing. E.g. a Swiss searcher sees the Swiss URL but German pricing in Euros.

19 Feb 2019

Google Folds Together Same Language Country Versions & Swaps Out URLs Dependent on Searcher Location

Google identifies different country versions of the same language as duplicates and folds them together for indexing. Google can then swap out the URLs depending on where the search is performed.

19 Feb 2019

Google May Include Translate Link in Search Results for Pages with Multiple Languages

If multiple languages are included on one page, Google may include a ‘translate this page’ link in the search results if it can’t determine the primary language of the page.

27 Nov 2018

Partially Translated Pages May Rank if They Are the Best Matched Version

Google tries to show the best matched version of a page for users in the language and region that they’re searching for, even if that version is only partially translated.

24 Aug 2018

Google Can Understand Pages Featuring Multiple Languages

Google can understand pages that contain multiple languages. For example, a travel site about Spanish cities might be in English but feature Spanish place names.

27 Jul 2018

Google Requires Multilingual Sites to Have Some Form of URL Differentiation

Anything that differentiates a URL can work for Google for multilingual sites with hreflang e.g. subdomains, subdirectories or parameters.

13 Jul 2018

Meta Tags Can be Combined in One Tag

Meta tags can be combined rather than having to have each one on its own separate line e.g. content=notranslate nositelinkssearchbox.

10 Jul 2018

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