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I currently work at a pretty big website that has visitors from around the globe. My job is to help out on the SEO, and one thing we've been discussing lately is the use of international TLD's. The ones we use range between:

  • (partly) translated websites like .es and .de that serve most of the content in the country's language
  • non-translated (english) websites for non-english languages (due to a lack of translations) like .ro and .cz
  • english websites for english speaking countries with localized TLD's (.co.nz, .co.uk)

On one hand I really have the feeling this is causing a lot of duplicate content, especially for the last two categories of TLD's.

On the other hand though it seems a lot like country-specific TLD's tend to score a lot better in that country's Google. Would it be advisable to keep on using these domains, or should we canonicalize them all to the .com version?

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I think:

the translated websites like .es and .de are NOT duplicate content at all if you translate also the part that is not translated yet

All the others (written in English and therefor I suppose identical) are definitely duplicated contents on different TLDs, so according to Google guidelines they should all be redirected 301 to one single TLD (maybe .com here).

Another option for the English websites is to change the contents of the pages like what this one did:

http://www.webhostingbuzz.com/

http://www.webhostingbuzz.co.uk/

They are offering almost the same services (similar contents), but the websites are DIFFERENT, what is written is different even if they look similar due to graphic colors.

If you are asking me if this can be considered black hat seo I don't know and i wouldn't be so sure to report this on Google Webmaster Spam Report for at leats 2 reasons:

  1. if you look carefully at their websites they are offering less services in UK, so it's not differnt contents just because it's written using synonyms, but it's really differnt contents
  2. moreover the co.uk site is on a server in Europe which make sense because it's faster for European to access such a server compared to one in US.

UPDATE: according to experienced users (see comment), it's perfectly allowed to create under different urls the same site with the same content in different variations of the same language, i.e. English Brit, vs English US, vs English of the Aussies. Google guideline are not very clear:

Websites that provide content for different regions and in different languages sometimes create content that is the same or similar but available on different URLs. This is generally not a problem as long as the content is for different users in different countries.

But if a site like TripAdvisor uses different urls to show the same content in different variations of English (UK, US, AU), it's a strong proof that for Google is not a problem: tripadvisor**.com** tripadvisor**.co.uk** tripadvisor.com .au

  • This is WRONG: "All the others (written in English and therefor I suppose identical) are definitely duplicated contents on different TLDs" It is perfectly acceptable to have a .co.uk site and a .co.nz site with all the same content. Google will make them each rank only in their appropriate country. Having separate sites for different countries can lead to much better rankings than a single global site. This is especially true if the sites can be tweaked with regional spelling, currency, shipping options, and other changes users from that region expect. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 30 '16 at 10:29
  • @StephenOstermiller: is there any Google guideline written somewhere that confirms what you said? – Marco Demaio Dec 1 '16 at 19:33
  • Yes. The last section of this document: support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192?hl=en#3 – Stephen Ostermiller Dec 1 '16 at 19:38
  • @StephenOstermiller: thanks, but it's a bit confusing, the document says: "Websites that provide content for different regions and in different languages sometimes create content that is the same or similar but available on different URLs. This is generally not a problem as long as the content is for different users in different countries." It does not say: "different regions OR in different languages" I don't' know it seems to be a statement more towards same content, but in different languages, and not same content in different variations of English. – Marco Demaio Dec 9 '16 at 15:40
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    We did multiple English sites when I worked at TripAdvisor. (tripadvisor.com, tripadvisor.co.uk, tripadvisor.com.au, etc) and it works out great from an SEO perspective. – Stephen Ostermiller Dec 9 '16 at 15:44
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I would agree with Demaio that translated content is not duplicated content. For the english content under different TLDs, the easiest way would indeed be to do 301 redirects to your main site. Another possibility is to use the canonical-url metatag. It defines one URL you want the content to be listed under. E.G. these URLs:

  • www.content.com/page1
  • www.content.org/page1
  • www.content.net/page1
  • www.content.net/page1?param

could share the canonical URL like www.content.com/page1, under which your content would be found. That also works for duplicate content under one TLD, of course.

More info here: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/02/specify-your-canonical.html

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