5

I am building a website that will be available in multiple countries. Each country's content will be unique to that country, but each country's content will be offered in multiple languages, using the hreflang mechanism.

The URL structure of the website will be, for example:

UK 
mydomain.com/gb-en- English (default)
mydomain.com/gb-de - German

Germany
mydomain.com/de-de - German (default)
mydomain.com/de-en - English

As stated, both the UK and Germany websites will have unique content.

My question is, when thinking about SEO and the keywords within the URL, should the slugs be localised for each language on each website, or should the slugs only reflect the default language?

So, for example should I have:

mydomain.com/gb-en/my-seo-friendly-blog-post - English (default)
mydomain.com/gb-de/my-seo-friendly-blog-post - German

Or should I have:

mydomain.com/gb-en/my-seo-friendly-blog-post - English (default)
mydomain.com/gb-de/mein-seo-freundlicher-blogeintrag - German
3

You'll have better user metrics, if you create slugs in language according to the language version:

  • users will easier remind about page addresses to visit them twice,
  • users will faster understand the page's topics reading them in their mother tongue,
  • in general, you get all benefits of using mother tongue instead of foreign language.

But note!

  • such setup is very error-prone / fragile,
  • it is not a kind of trivial task, to get Google correctly index and rank all of your content in all of countries you target.
  • beside of this, it is a Heidenarbeit, die sich kaum lohnt german description for plenty of work not worth to do.

For the sake of clarity and best possible indexing and ranking i would always prefer an approach:

  • one ccTLD → one site → one language.

I recommend this from the personal point of view and experience - i've seen sites, i.e. with content for Germany, Austria and Swiss, whose setup was theoretically correct, but Google wasn't able to rank them correctly. German pages was ranking for Austria, austrian pages was ranking for Swiss and so on.

In your case the content on such pages will be the same:

English

  • mydomain.com/gb-en
  • mydomain.com/de-en

German

  • mydomain.com/gb-de
  • mydomain.com/de-de

And the only reliable method to route users to correct version is based on their Geo-IP-ing and recognizing of their browser language settings. You will be forced to recognize Geo-IP and browser language by first user's visit, let him correct your recognition and save the country and language selection in a cookie. By next visit you check the cookie and are able to redirect the visitor to the site's version saved in a cookie.

Google recommends this method too, but by itself doesn't read cookies and very seldom uses IP another than american one. Google means the only way to crawl multilanguage sites is correct hreflang implementation. In my experience it is never the case where all language versions of a multilanguage site were ranking equally good. But the management affort for such sites is way higher as if you would run a separate site for each country.

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