Last monday we changed our german only site from using wordpress to our own multi-lingual rails app. Since then our rankings dropped dramatically. I would like to know if the the recent losses in rankings have something to do with the way we redirect users based on their header (HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE).
Before we had just a german blog type site using the root / as a list of articles. The root now redirects with a 302 to either /en or /de based on the accept language header.
Switch site structure approach
When we switched, all urls got redirected with 301 to the new url structure. Webmaster tools of google didn't show us any important 404s since then.
Another approach we have been using is that the language code - for example the "en" in domain.com/en/random - only sets the language of the interface but not the content. So it is possible for the user to browse german content with an english interface.
What we do is, we tag the html element with the language code of the interface for example:
and the article content with another:
When you browse a german article with the english interface for example http://www.kenhub.com/en/library/pathology/das-osteosarkom we add this to the head:
<link href="http://www.kenhub.com/de/library/pathologie/das-osteosarkom" rel="canonical">
browsing a german article with the german interface adds:
<link href="/en/library/pathology/das-osteosarkom" hreflang="en" rel="alternate">
- is redirect based on HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE an acceptable method? does it affect seo?
- Is following the canonical/alternate approach advisable for content in one language but different language UI?