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(I hope I asked the question right..)

Fake site

Our site lists products for sale.

eg : http://www.myWebSite.com/products/some-drink-we-love-to-guzzle

Each product page has been translated into a few languages: English(UK), English(US), French, German, Chinese.

Can Google (or any search engine) search our site and be smart enough to 'see' the localised version so people can find our products, if they search for it in their own language?

eg.

In my browser i have Chinese set as my default language. I then go to my favorite search engine or a Hong Kong search engine (assumption: it's defaulted to Chinese) and search for a product - in Chinese. The URL is in US English but the page should be found because the content was all in Chinese...

Is this scenario possible? Can we tell search engines to hit my site as say you want french content, or German content, etc.. ?? so it knows to index that content under that language?

Cheers :)

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It's possible as long as you make the content available for them to find. You can do this two ways (and both are always a good idea):

  1. Submit an XML sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools
  2. Link to each localized version some place that can be crawled and indexed by Google (your home page being an ideal location but an HTML sitemap works also)

If possible, put your localized content in a subdomain or subdirect with the two character representation of the language that content is in (i.e. en.example.com or example.com/en) so Google knows that content is localized. (source).

Also, if you really want to make sure that content ranks well in the country that speaks that language your best bet is to make separate websites for each langauge and get the country specific TLD for that site (most important - source), host it in that country (less important), and set the geographic target in Google Webmaster Tools.

Update: Found a great blog post from Google that should tell you everything I mentioned and even more.

Update 2: Google just announced New markup for multilingual content. This should make it easier for multi-language sites to deal with translated versions of their website.

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heya mate. Can u elaborate on both items, please? Remember, i'm trying to stick to ONE domain (even though the best solution is one ccTLD per language or country). So for #1 ... how will it know to show French or German? Also, I don't understand what you mean by #2. Wouldn't the sitemap from #1 already do this? –  Pure.Krome Sep 2 '10 at 5:23
    
@Pure You need to make sure to use separate URLs per language - that's the most important part. It doesn't matter how they're split (domain / subdomain / subdirectory / file name, etc), it's just important that each URL has content in a one language, so that search engines can crawl & index all language versions and present them to the users appropriately. –  John Mueller Sep 2 '10 at 10:31
    
I might go ahead and use domain names to base the google seo'ing. Right now, the code checks the browser's 'LANGUAGE' settings and goes off the first one, assuming there is at least 1 (or defaults to .. gag.. US English). If there's no languages found (ie. robots, most likely) then it goes off the domain name. This is determined/set for every non-image request. Then in WebMaster Tools, i'll have the same sitemap for each domain .. but the data will be unique. The url will be identical EXCEPT the for TLD part of the url. Win? –  Pure.Krome Sep 8 '10 at 1:21

Each URL should only return one page. Slight variations are fine, but the same page in a different language belongs on a different URL. Either a subfolder or subdomain are fine - see this question for more info.

If one particular version is far more popular than another you could make that the default, for example site.com/product/something for American visitors, then site.com/de/product/something for German users. Redirect as appropriate and/or provide links for users to choose a different language if they desire.

Google is perfectly adequate at determining the language of the page (although adding the language meta tag is a great idea), so while country-specific domains would help, they are not necessary.

Note: If you are simply translating text between pages I would suggest merging the US/UK parts into one. But if you need to show country-specific data such as prices, then keep them separate.

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