Google is offering some new guidance on creating homepages for international users. The company took to its Webmaster Central blog on Monday morning to discuss the topic.
Specifically, it looks at three ways to configure your homepage (or landing page) - show everyone the same content, let users choose, or serve content depending on their location and language. Any of these options are fine, but Google has recommendations for each method.
When it comes to showing everyone the same content, Google says all countries and languages should be accessible on their own unique URLs, and recommends including a banner to suggest a different version to users from other locations or with different language settings, like so:
While technically, this is kind of letting users choose, the actual second option Google refers to means serving a country selector page on your homepage, and letting them choose which content they want depending on country and language. All users would see the same page with the same options.
"If you implement this scenario on your international site, remember to use the x-default rel-alternate-hreflang annotation for the country selector page, which was specifically created for these kinds of pages," Google's Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes write on the blog. "The x-default value helps us recognize pages that are not specific to one language or region."
Or you can just automatically serve the appropriate HTML content to your users depending on their location and language settings. Google says to do this by using server-side 302 redirects or by dynamically serving the right HTML content.
"Remember to use x-default rel-alternate-hreflang annotation on the homepage / generic page even if the latter is a redirect page that is not accessible directly for users," the two write. "Note: Think about redirecting users for whom you do not have a specific version. For instance, French-speaking users on a website that has English, Spanish and Chinese versions. Show them the content that you consider the most appropriate."
They elaborate a bit more on this and discuss rel-alternate-hreflang annotations in the post.
This certainly isn't the first time Google has talked about optimizing for international users. About a year ago, the topic was discussed on the same blog.
That time Google gave six practical "quick tips," including making pages I18N-ready in the markup, as opposed to the style sheets, using one style sheet for all locales, using the [dir='rtl'] attribute selector, using the :lang() pseudo class, mirroring left- and right-related values, and keeping an eye on the details.
More on that here.
Image via Google