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I am developing a website which has 6-7 translations, the client owns the top level domain (.fr, .de, etc.) and wants to use these domains to direct users to the gTLD subfolder. I will be using Hreflang tags on the pages, but am wondering if there will be negative consequences from the redirects?

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  • Can you explain why you want to use the ccTLDs in addition to the gTLD? There may be some negatives, but it depends what you're hoping to achieve.
    – GDVS
    Dec 13, 2019 at 17:04

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Redirects from one domain to another will have no effect on SEO unless you are enacting a Change of Address.

So, buying a new domain and pointing it at your existing website will have zero impact on your SEO.

Having a website, which has built up authority and PageRank for its content and backlinks, then being moved onto another website (using 301 redirects and announcing a Change of Address through Google Search Console) will transfer some of that authority and PageRank to the website you're redirecting to.

Why? Because Google doesn't index redirects themselves. So, a new domain which automatically redirects to another site isn't going to attract the spiders' attention. It won't be linked to; because aside from nobody wanting to link to an address that just redirects you, how are people going to know about these new domains?

That's not to say it might not be useful. You can certainly advertise these URLs through other formats where the ccTLD might be more memorable to end users, or even encouraging for them to visit (people do expect localised content to be more relevant to them).

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I'm in a similar situation for a major client. I do think this is a sound SEO strategy long-term, but as always, we're at the mercy of Google and if the redirects are not well set-up, it can cause a lot of pain. Make sure your site is rock solid and the dev site crawls are clean before you launch.

Another aspect is IP-based geotargeting. This doesn't get talked about enough, but some clients may have code that redirects visitors based on the presumed location of the reader. This is fraught, of course, since geolocation by IP is imprecise and sometimes counter to the visitor's intent. (It also turns your hreflang tags into garbage.) As you'll see online, most big brands use geotargeting but they don't redirect. Instead, they show a small widget or UI feature that says "We see you're in Canada. Do you want to go to our Canadian homepage?" Make sure that your geotargeting plan is sound.

I also think you should consider doing a Change of Address in the Google Search Console Settings for the ccTLDs. I think that's what we're going to do. It doesn't let you point the ccTLD at a subfolder, just the gTLD, but that's probably best.

wants to use these domains to direct users to the gTLD subfolder.

I'm assuming your client has a different subfolder for each territory. In which case this is the right strategy, IMHO. Obviously a single subfolder for all territories would be more complicated.

@GeoffAtkins I could be wrong but it sounds like the ccTLDs are already pulling traffic and are the main sites, and the client is moving them to subfolders on the gTLD.

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