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I see that https://developers.google.com/ offers articles in different language. They get the language from browser setting and don't place any language slug in the URL. Is this really a good practise? I read already alot articles, but I am still very unsure what is the best way.

I also read this guide: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192?hl=en

It's still not clear what is the best way. It would be nice if the way without the slug works good with SEO, but I better ask here before.

If I chose this way, I need to take care about special things? Or is the language definition in the <html> tag enough? And what is about hreflang? This will not work if all URLs are the same without any slug.

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Google does place the language tag in the URL:

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192?hl=de
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192?hl=en
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192?hl=fr

But they don’t redirect the variant without the language tag to the variant with the language tag. Instead, they set the variant with the language tag (for the currently displayed language) as canonical. That way, only the variants with language tag get indexed (see example site: search).

It’s primarily a usability question if variants without language tag are needed in the first place, and if they should redirect to the variant with language tag, or if they should only have it as canonical URL. It affects the case where someone publishes a link:

  • Should the link lead to the language-neutral version (so visitors following the link see the page immediately in their preferred language), or
  • should the link lead to the same version the publisher saw (so visitors may have to use a language switcher, but it allows them to immediately see/verify quoted content)?

That said, even if Google itself wouldn’t use language tags in the URLs, it doesn’t matter what they do, only what they recommend:

Use different URLs for different language versions

Google recommends using different URLs for each language version of a page rather than using cookies or browser settings to adjust the content language on the page.

  • But what is if i have a site like a index for restaurants, where i have a result or detail page that can be reached on all languages, but contains everytime the same content. because restaurant name, menucard and description will never change depends on language... what is here the best solution? different domains are not an option. – Budi Apr 17 at 19:58
  • @Budi: I don’t think anything special is needed for this case, it works the same, e.g., use hreflang (but you would ideally specify lang for the content that isn’t in the same language as the interface/template). See the first point on Tell Google about localized versions of your page: "If you keep the main content in a single language and translate only the template […]" – unor Apr 17 at 20:19

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