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My company has a .cl TLD for our Chilean website. I think it would be better for SEO purposes to have a bilingual site. I wanted to reach out to the masses to see if you think there is any benefit to having the site on two different domains based on geography.

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  • "any benefit to..." - Do you have a target audience outside of Chile? Does your company do business outside of Chile?
    – MrWhite
    Aug 31 at 21:32
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Overview on ccTLDs

ccTLDs (country code top level domains) are the single strongest way to show search engines and users that site content is specifically targeted to a certain country or region — but, importantly, NOT specifically a certain language.

If your website uses a ccTLD, Google will assume that both the website and all of its content are specifically relevant to the country/region of the ccTLD and it should primarily appear on SERPs in that country/region.

Moreover, ccTLDs target geographic areas (countries, regions). They do not target languages.

What does this mean?

Making your .cl website multilingual may help it rank higher in Chile for certain queries - mainly (see below) in cases like this:

  • A page on your website normally ranks...say 2nd page for the term "How to fix my keyboard".
  • The user's browser language is English
  • The pages/sites on the 1st page of the search results only offer their content in Spanish - since your site offers an English version, Google includes your result on page 1 instead of 2.

Edit:

MrWhite presented a good point I ought to specify - Of course making your site multilingual is going to help you globally. When I said mainly in cases like this I was implying that as a ccTLD, after making your site multilingual, a majority of the benefit you'll see is in that regard.

It will absolutely open the door to global rankings, but it's going to require a lot of additional signals (primarily links) over time to see visible results.


Approaches to Internationalization

I'll start with a disclaimer that there are many right ways to accomplish internationalization. These are two approaches I would take in this situation based on my experience and established best practices. They are equally good methods of internationalization, but different depending on your longer term goals.

Multiple Domains: Additional ccTLDs for Additional Countries/Regions

I'm assuming this is what you might mean when you say "different domains based on geography". If you just want to target users in Mexico and the US you could create .mx and .us versions.

  • Pros: Clear geo-targeting, server location is irrelevant, it will be easy to keep sites separate
  • Cons: Might get expensive, the ccTLD name you want might not be available, will requires more infrastructure, you'll need to build up the backlink profiles of each ccTLD separately.

Single Domain: Redirect example.cl to a gTLD (Generic Top Level Domain)

If your goal is to eventually target many different countries, I would recommend this.

How it would work:

  • 301 Redirect example.cl to example.com
  • From there, use hreflangto designate additional international versions of your site. You would want to choose between a subdomain method or a subdirectory method to indicate these versions - Ex:us.example.com vs example.com/en-us/ Learn more
  • If you go this route, be sure to fill out Google's International Targeting report.

Helpful links:

Here's a current list of TLDs

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  • "Making your .cl website multilingual may help it rank higher in Chile" - and globally. A ccTLD does not only target users in that country. As Google's John Mueller states in the linked question: "it's no problem to create a global site on a ccTLD". The OP hasn't stated that they want to target another specific region. From the limited information in the question, it would seem to be "Chile" and "everyone else".
    – MrWhite
    Sep 1 at 0:58
  • @MrWhite OP says "based on geography" I agree that could go one way or another, unless I've missed something my answer controls for both approaches optimally. I absolutely agree with John (amazing find btw) it can be done; sure it's not a "problem", but in practice that's very hard...requiring a lot of effort. Why go against the grain if you don't have to? Multilingual will help for sure, notice I said mainly in cases like. Good call tho, I should specify because that's unclear. Need to touch up a couple headings too. Sep 1 at 2:17

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