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I have a website that's currently entirely English. I'm adding support for multiple languages, and would like them all indexed (so I can't serve different languages at the same URL).

I opted to use / to redirect to /en-GB/ (or the best language I can, based on browser headers and the languages/cultures I have). I'm avoiding the use of sessions (for performance and scaling), so all links in the site are relative (as if the culture name is a folder).

This all works great, but I'm curious about how Google will treat the redirect at the homepage, bearing in mind:

  • Many links will go to /
  • Google may be redirected to a different version of the site from the root / depending on headers it passes
  • Many people will linked directly to their preferred versions of the site
  • Some languages (en-US and en-GB) will be mostly the same, except for subtle differences and date formats (penalties for duplicate content?)
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Good reference to help: googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/03/… (since I don't have a definitive answer) –  Mike Hudson Aug 8 '11 at 2:48
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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I'm pretty sure Google will not like it. It's bots come from the US and will only see your US content which means that's likely the only content it will see and add to its index. It could also be seen as a potential violation of webmaster guidelines.

Serving up different results based on user agent may cause your site to be perceived as deceptive and removed from the Google index. http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66355

Here's a link to a good thread on multi-language/country sites and how to handle them: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=12a5507889c20461&hl=en

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After posting, I decided to make / redirect to /en-GB/ (always), and there are flag icons that link to the other pages. I also added lang= to the html tag, and meta tags like "<link rel="alternate" hreflang="de-DE" href="/de-DE/" />". –  Danny Tuppeny Sep 1 '11 at 5:56
    
So far, Google still shows / in the index, but as this is a 301 to /en-GB/, I'm not sure if it'll soon be replaced by /en-GB/ –  Danny Tuppeny Sep 1 '11 at 5:56
    
That should work better. It will take G. a while to update you index page, but keep checking the cache date to see when it crawls the page. –  user9983 Sep 1 '11 at 16:19
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