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I am working on a multi-national/multi-lingual eCommerce website, with the following website structures:

www.example.co.uk      (UK Based English speakers)
www.example.co.uk/es/  (UK Based Spanish speakers)
www.example.co.uk/fr/  (UK Based French speakers)

www.example.es         (Spain Based Spanish speakers)
www.example.es/fr/     (Spain Based French speakers)
www.example.es/en-gb/  (Spain Based UK English Speakers)

There will be a Blog Series, which will be placed on to each ccTLD; since its content will be universally useful. For example 'How to ...' and 'Top 5 XYZ' kind of articles.

The concern I have then relates to the issue of duplicate content. For example, there would be the following URLs:

www.example.co.uk/how-to-xyz
www.example.es/en/

The first URL will be targeted to UK based English speakers whilst the second URL would target Spain based English speakers. As such, the content would be pretty much identical and within the same French language.

The exception being, at the end of the Blog Article, there will be an Internal Link to its respective Product Category page that will house its Country Specific Currency. In this case, the first URL would contain British Sterling with its Spanish counterpart displaying the Euro Currency as follows:

www.example.co.uk/ (British Sterling)
www.example.es/en/ (Euros)

With this in mind, would this single Internal Link be enough to let search engines know that whilst 99.9% of the content is a duplicate, that it is in fact aimed at a different Geographical audience?

The reason for asking is that I see many articles, including Google's own, that also advise making use of the Canonical Tags. Whilst I understand the technical integration, I feel that such a use would reduce User Experience since both pages are looking to serve a different Geographical audience. For example, let's say I chose to set www.example.fr/en/how-to-xyz as the preferred URL, then UK based users would be sent to an article that contains an Internal Link to a Product Category page, that displays prices in Euros rather than British Sterling.

Any pointers, on this matter, would be greatly appreciated.

HREFLANG

As a side note, I have implemented the relevant HREFLANG Tags, using HTML Markup as follows:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="lang_code" href="url_of_page" />
  • I think to avoid duplicate content you can use canonical where you can prioritize original content and website accordingly and I think based on GEO area it'll rank/show the URL accordingly. – Group Of Oceninfo Feb 4 at 7:10
  • Thanks for your comment. Do you have any Analytical Reports etc, that show that show Canonicals priortise duplicate content unless a visitor comes from a targeted location? – Craig Feb 10 at 19:41
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Simply put; No, it's not enough! Google uses multiple signals to determine that. Not just GEO-IP of the user or your URL.

Do not trust/rely on Google fully. Instead, mark up your URLs with HREFLANG (either markup the html code or use the easier setup ->sitemap markup) to say to Google (and all other search engines) which URL you want to be visible in SERPs for each of those countries.

Other considerations to look at are as follows:

ccTLD/TLD: Ideally, adopt the relevant ccTLD. If this is outside of your operational/financial resources, look at Subdomains or Subdirectories and specify the relevant Languages/Location within the <head> ... </head> Tags;

Webmaster Tools: Verify website(s) with the relevant Search Engine's Webmaster Tools. Then head to their 'International Targeting' area to specify the targeted location for the associated Domain;

Content: Ensure that content is written to the targeted location. This being the case for languages such as English. Even though many Countries may speak English, there are some variants such as 'Metre' and 'Meter' and 'Zebra Crossing' and 'Road Crossing' between British English and American English;

Links: Where relevant, it could be beneficiary to Link out to sites that target the same location. Furthermore, it may be a good idea to try and have more Backlinks from websites within your targeted location. Done in a 'White Hat' manner of course.

  • Fair comment. I guess in my prolonged look into Geo Targeting, from a Content perspective, I took your Architectural suggestions as standard. I suppose we are unlikely to know the weight distribution, of each Signal, so assume they are all equal and tick them all off so to speak. :-) – Craig Feb 10 at 19:52
  • To add on to this: <link rel="alternate" href="url_of_page" hreflang="x-default" /> should be specified as a fallback page for unmatched languages. Adding canonical should also help, but make sure to add it properly, that is, not to your original page, but to language specific page each time. – Mnea Jul 12 at 19:26
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Your setup looks fine to me. The biggest factor for Google in determining what users to send to a site is country targeting. When you have a top level domain extension such as .co.uk, Google automatically targets that site at the UK and knows only to send UK visitors there.

It is fine with Google to have multiple copies of the same content targeted at different countries. In my experience Google does the right thing with them. Each shows up in only in search for users from that country.

The only part of your question that I don't have experience with is targeting people who don't speak the main language in a country. I've never tried to target French speakers in the UK before. I'd imagine that would work, but I'd be interested to know for sure if that works once you try it.

  • only to send UK visitors ... As you pointed out, the .co.uk ccTLD automatically targets UK whilst I have set the .com TLD to 'Unlisted' as to target all other Countries. That said, both Domains appear in Google. Both their .com and .co.uk variants. Changing my IP to another Country, via VPN, does not seem to prevent the .co.uk variant from appearing neither. With that in mind, would it be fair to say that the Geotargeting only comes into effect for Geo related search queries rather than all search queries? – Craig Feb 10 at 19:32
  • targeting people who don't speak the main language in a country ... It will be some time before I am up and running with this, as well as having obtained enough traffic data to make any stable conclusions, but will drop results here when available. :-) – Craig Feb 10 at 19:35

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