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A company website offers the same products and pages (more or less) across different countries.

It's a mess; they use a mix of subdirectories, subdomains and ccTLDs for international sites:

  • us.example.com/product.html
  • example.com/uk-EN/product.html
  • example.com/de-DE/product.html
  • example.com/nl-EN/product.html
  • example.ca/product.html

They have decided to use IP-sniffing to redirect users to the right site.

Which 3XX redirect protocol is the most appropriate?

  • 300 multiple choices (e.g. offer different languages)
  • 302 found (originally temporary redirect, but now commonly used to specify redirection for unspecified reason)
  • 303 see other (e.g. for results of cgi-scripts)
  • 307 temporary redirect

I am leaning towards 300 since it makes sense, but Googlebot is in the US, so it will be redirected away from this international content in favor of the US domain?

Also, implementing hreflang is an obvious addition to any of this, but without it, which would be most suited?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

As Stephen Ostermiller has pointed out the correct way is to the have a landing page and let users navigate the correct areas of the site. However as you cannot do this, Google have given instructions in the past for redirects based on user location.

Here is a video from Matt Cutts on IP detection and redirects.

On Googles page for Redirects and User-Agent Detection they have the following info on redirects:

Using HTTP redirection

HTTP redirection is a commonly used to redirect clients to device-specific URLs. Usually, the redirection is done based on the user-agent in the HTTP request headers. It is important to keep the redirection consistent with the alternate URL specified in the page's link rel="alternate" tag or in the Sitemap.

For this purpose, it does not matter if the server redirects with an HTTP 301 or a 302 status code.

Although this is for device detection, I think it may still be relevant in your case

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As it says in the answer to How should I structure my urls for both SEO and localization? You should not use automatic redirects for language purposes based on either the Accept-Language header or on IP address geography.

  • Geo-ip databases are inaccurate. Up to 10% of visitors may be assigned to the incorrect country.
  • Some countries (like Canada) use more than one language
  • Googlebot will have problems as it almost always crawls from the United States.

Instead, you should put a notice on the page saying: "I see that you are in the United States, click here to visit our US site".

If you do that, users will still be able to get to the correct site. However Googlebot will be able to crawl all the sites, and errors in your geo-ip database won't matter so much.

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Thanks, yup, you're right — that's what I would do, but it's not an option in this case –  Baumr Jul 24 '13 at 15:49
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Any redirect is going to hurt the SEO of all but your US site where Google crawls from. So I stand by my answer as to which type of redirect is best: none of them. –  Stephen Ostermiller Jul 24 '13 at 15:51
    
Thanks, but I don't want to throw in the towel just yet — I noticed that the other article didn't use a source for the "up to 10% of visitors" figure; any leads? –  Baumr Jul 24 '13 at 16:11
    
Here is source that states that the country level is 90% accurate. stateofsearch.com/geotargeting-based-on-ip-address-is-broken –  Stephen Ostermiller Jul 24 '13 at 16:40
    
Right, but it's just saying it — not saying where the number came from –  Baumr Aug 2 '13 at 14:57
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