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Google clearly states that duplicate content within a single, or multiple, domains is not advised. This is understood, but I am not sure of any exceptions for sites with region-specific content that is often replicated across locales.

For example, a site's /en-us/about page could be identical to /en-uk/about, whereas most likely /en-ja/about is unique.

Are GYM smart enough to understand that the initial URL depth is a locale specifier? Is there any robots.txt or header, etc, trickery that I should include to outline the site's international structure?

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2 Answers 2

This is the answer in the webmastertools you may find most helpful. It's linkled from the document "Multi-regional and multilingual sites" in the context of "Duplicate content and international sites".

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Duplicate content is not a problem with multiple geo-targeting within the same language.

If you are using sub-folders for your different geo-targets, then you should add each subfolder in Google Webmaster Tools and let Google know about the targeting through this tool.

There are language tags that you can use in your html document

 <html lang=en>

You can also use link tags to specify all the languages in which a document is available

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="http://example.com/de/">

Neither of these is appropriate for geo-targeting with the same language.

For further information check out Googles multi-regional, multi-language FAQ: https://sites.google.com/site/webmasterhelpforum/en/faq-internationalisation and google webmaster tools help on the subject: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=182192

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