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I'm developing an international website and this is my current situation.

My home URL is country-specific, i.e: every country has specific content that differs from the others.

/        USA
/au      AUSTRALIA
/uk      UNITED KINGDOM

/es      SPAIN
/mx      MEXICO
/ar      ARGENTINA

But a have another page, which is language-specific, i.e: the content only differs by language, but is the same for whatever country that speaks those languages.

And here is what I end up with on the second-page:

/second-page      ENGLISH PAGE  (POSSIBLE CANONICAL FOR ENGLISH)
/au/second-page   ENGLISH PAGE  (THIS WOULD BE A DUPLICATE)
/uk/second-page   ENGLISH PAGE  (THIS WOULD BE A DUPLICATE)

/es/second-page   SPANISH PAGE  (POSSIBLE CANONICAL FOR SPANISH)
/mx/second-page   SPANISH PAGE  (THIS WOULD BE A DUPLICATE)
/ar/second-page   SPANISH PAGE  (THIS WOULD BE A DUPLICATE)

What should I do with the URLs for that second-page regarding international SEO and page indexing on Google?


OPTION #1

Should I add them all to my Sitemap and use hreflang, as if they were completely different pages?

Sitemap.xml

/es/second-page   hreflang="es"
/mx/second-page   hreflang="es-MX"
/ar/second-page   hreflang="es-AR"

NOTE: Those 3 pages are 99.9% exact duplicates. The ONLY difference in those pages would be the country selector component in the Footer, which will differ for each country, cause each one will have a different country selected.


OPTION #2

Add only the canonical version to the Sitemap:

Sitemap.xml

/es/second-page   hreflang="es"

And add <link rel="canonical"/> to the duplicate pages:

/mx/second-page.html AND /ar/second-page.html

<head>
  <link ref="canonical" href="www.example.com/es/second-page"/>
</head>

OPTION #3

Only link to the canonical versions and hide the duplicate pages completely from Googlebot. Example:

  • Home URLs "/" , "/au" and "/uk" would only find links to "/second-page", which is canonical for english
  • Home URLs "/es" , "/mx" and "/ar" would only find links to "/es/second-page", which is canonical for spanish

Doing it like this, Googlebot will never be aware the those duplicate URL's exist, even though if a user types it directly in the URL bar, they will be found.

This has a downside: imagine a user from Mexico lands on /mx and clicks on a link to /es/second-page, which is canonical for spanish. My code will lose the information about which country he first landed on, and if he clicks on the Logo on top of my page, he will go to /es instead of /mx.

Is there a best solution for this? Has anyone did something like that before?

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