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Google is reporting duplicate title tags for a website that is built for 2 languages.

The URL structure seems fine it is something like:

example.com/place-1
example.com/fr/place-1

The title tags are unique for each page yet some info is of course duplicated for the other language, for example:

Place-1 - Region - Gourmet lunch and dinner
Place-1 - Region - Dîner gastronomique
  1. Why would this be considered a duplicate when they clearly are not the same.

  2. Even if they were the same the <title> is important and unique for each language, how can I tell google this.

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Are the pages direct automated translations? or hand written? because if so this could be way - if you haven't already I suggest you check out support.google.com/webmasters/bin/… –  bybe Feb 28 '13 at 19:49
    
These are legitimate translations by a human. –  Wyck Feb 28 '13 at 20:48
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1 Answer

Duplicate content translated into different languages is NOT considered duplicate content by Google. Many large websites are translate all their content into several languages. Far from being a problem, they enjoy good rankings in each of these languages.

Google even allows same language content to be duplicated when targeted to different countries. You could have a co.uk and a com.au site which have the same content with some minor spelling difference and prices in different currencies. Even two same language sites with nearly identical page titles would not be considered duplicate content. They just need to be targeted correctly. This can either be done automatically by the top level domain, or by setting the targeting via Google Webmaster Tools.

If you are having problems with duplicate content, your url structure could be part of the problem. Your English content could be moved to a directory similar to your French content. Something like example.com/en/place-1. I personally use example.com and fr.example.com without problems for English and French respectively.

Google also gets confused if you mix languages within the same page. Make sure your French pages don't have any English content on them. This is one of the many suggestions in Google's guide to working with multi-regional websites .

Another hint you can give to Google is rel alternate links either in meta tags on your pages or in your sitemap files. Google describes how to do this in this post about multilingual and multinational site annotations.

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I think you may be right, the markup might be confusing Google such as the link to the +1 for Google in the french side had {lang: "en-US"} in the HTMl and a couple other minor words including "English", I will change these. I'll report back to see if this was the case, it might be a while. –  Wyck Feb 28 '13 at 22:04
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The major problem with using fr.example.com is that the sub domain will need a fair amount of back linking too since back links are not shared globally on a domain. However it may be easier to rank if you have french links > going to the french domain and English going to the www. site since they will be more relevant but long as you know this before you proceed, you will lose rankings if you do so but long term it might be stronger to do so. This is why a lot of sites have decided to use /country/ rather than country.domain since its consider easier to work on the authority you already have.. –  bybe Feb 28 '13 at 23:03
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Sadly I'll have to disagree with you on that, sub domains do not inherit any juice or authority other than the backlinks you have going to the sub domain from the www. domain. Otherwise you'd have a million user.wordpress.com sites topping rankings, one major reason why so many sites went from secure.domain or shop.domain to /shop/ because a lot of juice is leaked and authority is not passed. –  bybe Feb 28 '13 at 23:14
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Basically its debatable and unconfirmed but I covered this before for my own clients and correct me if I'm wrong more SEO'ers believe that none authority is passed over it is. Check out whitefireseo.com/site-architecture/… its a good read. Stack Exchange works because of the sheer amount of content produced and natural links they have coming in, there is better suited reasons for making sub domains. I think its down to the individual on the size of the site. –  bybe Feb 28 '13 at 23:17
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I know what your saying but that rule would only apply to the bigger sites like GEOSITES, yet people have reported that rankings dramatiicly improve using sub folders over sub domains on things like shops. And we know that Link juice is not passed for a fact, hence 0 page rank, we can only assume thats the same as I've created sub domains and never shot up on rankings and if it was based on my own sites authority I'm sure I would. But again its a debatable topic and personally I'd only recommend sub domains as a last resort and if its ideal i.e thousands of pages.. pointless if its a small 1. –  bybe Feb 28 '13 at 23:20
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