Multiple-Languages Websites and SEO

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Over in our WebProWorld forum an interesting search engine optimization question has been posed …

… What is the best way to structure a multiple-languages website to get all pages properly indexed by
search engines? This is a question that is of interest many website managers worldwide. Here are some of the responses by WebProWorld members:

via Melbourne, Australia
umm … this is a tough one as you not only want to have your multi-language site indexed but you also want the language pages to rate high for the keywords you are targeting … otherwise it is not worth getting your site indexed

what i would suggest is that you have separate domains for each language version of your site

the reason for this is that you will then be able to arrange exchange links for the home page of each one which in turn will drive up the link popularity of each one ie. you will be able to promote each site in its own right

the alternative is to have sub-folders for each language translation, with each home page indexed to your main site’s home page … and this way you will only be able to really promote the main site and each language site will get its rank from your main home page which i don’t think is a good idea if you want to seriously promote your language sites

>>>> The poster went on to say…

i mean that if you have say a spanish translation, then the home page of your spanish translation will need to have a link to it from your main home page otherwise the spiders will not find your spanish translation

your additional question is a harder one … there is some talk that hosting several sites with the same host is bad because spiders use the host’s ip as part of its spidering but that seems hard to believe in some way as a host may have several customer sites … so i am not sure about that one

there is talk also of subdomains eg http://english.vacationsbrazil.com are not good but some have reported no problems with that

i would suggest thorough research on the 2 possibilities you have: using subdomains and using separate domains.


via Plymouth, UK
I thought I would reply to this post with my question rather than a new one as this post is still relevant.

I have a customer who will have one site promoting villas in spain. He will want them in two languages. English and Spanish.

When I got to thinking about this I thought, “what high ranking site out there has done this before and how do they do it?” So I looked at www.microsoft.com and found that they have language sites like this:


In other words they just seperate the languages/countries by using a subfolder. No subdomains, no new domains nothing.

I guess as MS have done it and each subsequent page seems to work it would be ok to do it with my customer?


via Dallas, Texas
I would keep it to one language per domain name. You might want to read a recent article I wrote about multi-lingual online businesses.


via Houston, Texas
Keywords should be different for every language.

Surely you are not contemplating breaking a forward pointing logic structure for the SEs by basterdizing foreign language versions with english tags?

My vote – Keep them in their own trees.

It works fine to have separate language subdomains, but you would be better off with country specific domains and hosting.


via South Africa
I don’t see that presenting identical content in different languages would be discriminated against as the dreaded ‘duplicate content’. In fact it would be good customer ralations and simply good manners. If the subject differs in different countries ok, but a rose is a rose in any language no matter how it is spelled or spoken.

Google gives precedence to websites in a searcher’s own country, also, country specific directories and search engines only accept listings from websites in their country. It would seem logical to have separate country-specific domains, hosted in their specific country. With search words and content in their vernacular. If each country is going to be treated separately by Google and other search engines, then there should be no problem with having a website for each country in which you want your website published. And all websites should have identical content, registered and hosted in that specific country.
If there is going to be discrimination between countries and your website has a positive contribution to searchers in various countries, it is up to you to allow them to have it, the same content for each country. If Google want to do it country by country that’s fine, they can’t expect you to present different content for each country.
A natural progression would be that if you were presenting your website to a number of countries in which English was the lingo-franco then you would have identical websites for each country, in English, registered and hosted in that country.

It should not matter, but it would be helpful to the customer if the domain name was the same but for the country dsignator.


Great answers! If you have addtional thoughts on this please comment here.

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  • http://www.giftexposure.co.uk Dave

    My own thoughts on this are, optimisation for multiple language sites will be very difficult.

  • http://www.eteamsys.com Denis

    For me, best is to use subfolders: http://www.yourdomain.com/LANG/
    Using subdomains are harder and longer to put in place with results that will maybe never be better than subfolders…


  • http://www.the-little-things-in-life.co.uk Peter

    I avoid these sites, just too complicated

  • http://www.business-sale.com terry

    Some good answers there to a very technical question

  • http://www.qburst.com Prathapan Sethu

    How about dynamically generating content and based on language selection? Does anyone have experience with this from an SEO perspective?

  • http://diseno-earle-staff.blogspot.com/ Modern Zen

    I saw a video from the Google webmaster team saying it’s best to put your different languages into subfolders, rather than subdomains, like this:


    but mainly for ease of use. In SEO terms, either way would be fine.

  • http://www.roadragers.com Road Rage

    It seems two seperate issues are getting confused here:

    1. Do you want to target two or more languages in one country? For example, in Canada you’ll often want to target at least English and French. In the U.S. you’ll often want English and Spanish.


    2. Are you targetting two (or more) languages in two countries.

    If #1, create two websites (one for each language) and host it on the same country domain/tld. Link between the two websites

    If #2, the websites should be hosted in their corresponding countries and and use the respective individual country TLDs (i.e. .fr, cn, tw etc.)

  • http://www.folsyra.net Guest


    Regarding the last post, that google cant expect you to write different content for each language. I would say that. Yes, they can. Because you havent registred yourself as owner of your content in any other way than being the first to publish it on google. If Google didnt discriminate dublicate content in other languages then I could, as a swe, just take english sites, copy the content and publish it in sweden. That would be stealing content. But google has no way of knowing if I “steal” my own content or is I am stealing someone others. Maybe they have a hard time figuring out if it is dublicate content or just related subjects because google translate isnt perfect (yet), but I wouldnt risk trying to dublicate content on any of my pages if I do it in a new language.

    Btw, Agree on the different domains/hosting. Thats the way to do it I think.


  • http://ideal-softwares.com Eslam Badawy

    it easier to separate , and you can have your web application running on all sub domains the same way using the same relative paths.

  • http://www.marcinkossakowski.com Guest


  • Guest

    I agree that it’s really complicated to get it. I exactly can’t figure it out what the article really trying to say? SEO Nepal

  • http://www.belleza-chic.com Belleza

    I’m also avoiding this SEO dilemna

  • http://www.aktivtek.no søkemotoroptimalisering

    It has been known for long time that the search results vary widely depending on the search language and location, as I wrote in post: SEO multilingual sites. The syntax of the url in Google search results can help you to view in relation to a particular location and language. In everyday use, however, it is very inconvenient.

  • https://mymzone.com/ Ravi Jay

    I have seen that language variable is attached to the URL to identify the different language based content. Just as an example: this is what we are using at the moment – (these URLs are a sample only)

    Comments on the usefulness of this, anyone?

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