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I have a multilingual site, which I would like to target by language. Google Webmaster Tools provides the option to add a subdomain per language subdomain which can be geotargeted. If I'm more interested in language based targeting, which as far as I know isn't supported, should I still select the geotargeting?

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3 Answers

You should not target by location unless you don't want visitors from certain countries. Here are some reasons to use location targeting:

  • You can only ship your product to a specific country
  • Your have information that is only of interest to people in a specific country (such as information about the laws of that country)
  • You have separate sites for each country with different prices, data, or terms of service on each

In those cases, you should use location targeting. For languages, Google is smart enough to figure out how to present the correct section of your site to users without any hints from location targeting. All you have to do is set up your site correctly.

Setting location targeting when you want a global audience that speaks a certain language is a bad idea. It will prevent your users from finding your site if they are not in the targeted country.

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The Webmaster tools setting is more for setting a country focus hint for your site. For language settings the most important would be to ensure that in the header of your site you include the correct language setting.

See here for guidelines from Google: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=182192

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It depends on the language. There are languages where you have over 90% of your users from one country. But there are other languages which are spoken in many countries: English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and many others.

Before fine tuning for some countries make sure your website "tells" Google the correct language and leave the settings in the WMT not targeted to one specific country. Google will figure it out correctly.

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