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I would like to localize content on a few of my landing pages by making some slight changes to the dynamic content that I show (the website is a marketplace website and the products are very dependent on language, so I'd like to change the "recommended products" based on the user's language preference, which I'll be getting from the accept-language header).

I will not be translating these pages nor changing their layout. Like I said, I'm only changing some of the recommendations.

If I don't give each localized landing page its own URL, search engines may rank and reference content that may not actually be shown when the user clicks through to the site. This would obviously be bad for SEO. This is why most references (example) recommend that localized pages have unique URLs.

On the other hand, it seems like overkill to give each language its own URL, especially if I'm not planning on translating these pages. Moreover, it might even be misleading to have a URL like example.com/ru and serve content in English.

What is the recommended approach if I'd like to tailor the "recommendations" section by user language preference?

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For SEO it is best to only ever use one language per page. Google's John Mueller said:

In general, we recommend sticking to a single language per page. If you have multi-lingual content on your website, I'd recommend using separate pages per language. Our language recognition tries to find the most relevant language from your content, so that we can send you users searching in that language.

Mixing languages is not good user experience. Google prefers not to index pages with poor user experience. You are correct that you should not create separate URLs like example.com/ru and serve content in English.

It sounds like you are concerned about the case where somebody lands on an English page but their Accept-Language header says they only understand another language (such as Russian). In that case it could be appropriate to show the main content in English but include something in Russian on the page such as a "Click here to view this page in Russian" notice or a list of alternative pages in Russian that the user may actually be able to use.

I hear your concern that Google may index things that are not in the page. However, I don't think it would be a big deal in this case. As long as your main content (the product information) remains the same, it should be fine. Google tries to index the main content of the page. Google tries to identify the navigation and templated parts of the page and not give their words as much indexing weight. In addition, your English page is likely to show up only to English speaking searchers. Google rarely shows other-language results to users.

  • Thanks. I understand what you said about not serving English content on a /ru page. To sharpen my concern, what I was saying was that I switch out the recommended products based on accept-language. This means Google might show a snippet with text from one of these products, but, when the user clicks Google's link, it will show him a different set of products (based on his language) and therefore not have what was shown in Google's snippet. Thus leading to a poor experience for the user. – theyuv Jan 10 at 8:10
  • Almost all users that click from Google are going to match the language of the main content. Few users are going to even encounter your scenario. Google isn't likely to index the content of your related products links under the context of your product page because it should recognize it as navigation. Even if a Russian did a search and landed on your English page, it is unlikely that words from your navigation would have been included in that query. – Stephen Ostermiller Jan 10 at 18:05

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