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I'm trying to launch a website application that will focus on cities around the world, whereby TLD for each countries will be used. For example:

www.website.de - Germany
www.website.cn - China

sub-domains will be

 www.berlin.website.de
 www.beijing.website.cn

Does the approach used above have any significant advantage over this:

www.berlin.website.com
www.beijing.website.cn

The aim of each website/sub-domain is the same, but with specific contents tailored to the cities.

My question is slightly different from:

How should I structure my URLs for both SEO and localization?

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Just to clarify... your .de site is specifically targeting users in Germany? It's not simply that the site has German content, but could be of interest to those outside Germany? –  w3d Dec 1 '13 at 18:58
    
@w3d It will be targeted towards Germany, and so also will be for other country TLDs. –  dotman14 Dec 1 '13 at 19:54
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

My first thought when reading the question was that this is going to be a case for the web-spam team. Please don't create tons of sites that are essentially doorway pages. Also, using wildcard subdomains (assuming the idea is to map them to cities after DNS resolution) make it extremely hard to determine how those URLs should be crawled.

Additionally, I think it's important to mention that a site using this kind of URL structure won't see any unnatural advantage in search. Search engines are just as good at handling URL parameters, there's no need to make it look like a website focused on [cityname],[countryname] when it's essentially just a part of the same website. Unless you have very good reasons to do this outside of web-search, I would recommend simplifying things significantly.

For geotargeting, using a ccTLD is a good way to let users & search engines know about your target audience. For Google, you can also use a gTLD (even the same one for all your sites) and work with subdirectories or subdomains to apply geotargeting there too. That saves you from having to get & maintain all those ccTLDs.

For multilingual content, at least from Google's point of view, the URL is irrelevant as long as it's unique. Use whatever URL structure works for you (and look into using hreflang where it makes sense).

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Thank you for your answer. Which do you advice now? www.city.website.com or www.website.com/city ? –  dotman14 Dec 4 '13 at 6:07
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It depends on what you want to achieve.

  1. Do you want to provide content about locations? (Like Berlin)
  2. Do you want to provide content about anything but targeting a location? (Like users of Berlin)

TLD target researches show that if your content is about locations and anybody can be interested in, choosing a general TLD like .com and choosing English as main language gives better traffic results. However, if content is only for users of some area, it is better to choose that regions spesific country TLD. For example, if you have a book store in Germany, .de TLD would be better. But if your content is about German authors, a general TLD ranks higher in search engines.

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Content will be specific to the city alone.. So berlin.website.de will have content related to residents of Berlin. –  dotman14 Dec 2 '13 at 15:07
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If you have the localized version of a domain name eg website.de use it for that country. If not use the website.com. You might want to have berlin.website.com redirect to berlin.website.de. Its all just a administrative thing. You want to make it as easy as possible for your visitors to remember and type in your website correctly. As far as SEO just remember a few rules.

  1. Be consistent with the way you lay out your site.
  2. Update your site map on a regular.
  3. "If you build it they will come" If you build a great website with good information/resources then visitors will find and use it regardless of the first two rules.

Edit: Also I forgot to mention .Com domains are popular/known/used all around the world but that’s my understanding of it as an American. Most likely is different in other parts of the world. I have seen and visited a lot of .co.uk websites in my life time.

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