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Should I do:
A: translate the language links in the current language: (if I am on the English version)

<a href="en/">English</a> | 
<a href="it/">Italian</a> | 
<a href="fr/">French

B: the links in the native languages:

<a href="en/">English</a> | 
<a href="it/">Italiano</a> | 
<a href="fr/">Français</a>

From a user perspective option B is obvious, but what about SEO?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You could turn this question on its head; let's say you land on the page, and the current language is Russian; which of these do you pick to get to something you understand?

  • французский
  • английский
  • итальянский
  • русский

From a usability perspective, I'd say that the language names should always be in their native languages, over the current language.

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off course, you are right. I was just wondering about SEO. –  FFish Dec 5 '10 at 14:50
1  
i'm under the impression that google builds it so that what's good for the user is good for SEO. –  robertpateii Dec 10 '10 at 21:08
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User centered design says go for option B.

However Google will then detect foreign content in your post and think it's not English.

Combat this (and increase multilingual SEO) with the Google recommendation of a link to alternate content in your head like so:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr-FR" href="http://fr.website.com/" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="it-FR" href="http://it.website.com/" />

Remember, if you're not on the home page these should be adapted to link to the relevant multilingual page, not multilingual root.

example.com/thanks

would have:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr-FR" href="http://fr.website.com/merci" />

and not just:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr-FR" href="http://fr.website.com/" />

For more, refer to this.

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