Currently I am creating a website which has a common topic for an article, but it's going to be different content for each country, and also, each of that content will be provided in several languages. And this mechanism exists in most of the parts in the website.

For example, I have an article about tax. This article has to be different for each country, for example china. And tax content for china should be written in china AND english language (for non china-speaker). What is the best URL pattern to handle this?

What I've been thinking is, using a sub folder (/country-code/language-code/) such as:

  • www.example.com/cn/cn/tax
  • www.example.com/cn/en/tax

Or using top level domain such as:

  • www.example.cn/cn/tax
  • www.example.cn/en/tax

Or subdomain such as

  • cn.example.com/cn/tax
  • cn.example.com/en/tax

I think I will not prefer the last option since I might need to use subdomain for other purpose. Which left only subfolder and TLDN. I've read some articles saying that TLDN is good for localized content (language-specific content), but in my case, my TLDN will also has english contents (for non local speaker) which is specific only to that particular country (also the purpose of this is to let people from other country easily search it through google).

What is the best pattern to pick and why?.

3 Answers 3


Several sites tend to favor language-codes like /en-us/

Sites using /en-us/ convention:

  • msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/
  • addons.mozilla.org/en-us/
  • www.flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/
  • products.amd.com/en-us/
  • docs.redhat.com/docs/en-US/
  • www.logitech.com/en-us/home

Also some using your example 1 convention

Sites using /en/us/ convention:

  • www.cisco.com/en/US/
  • www.bk.com/en/us/

Search google for inurl:/en-us/ for additional results


You can specify a geographic target in Google Webmaster tools http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=62399 and you can set up a site for a subfolder such as example.com/cn http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=34592.

You can also use the meta tag content-language for each language specific pages so it's clear which language they are using. So your first option will work and may be easier to manage than having multiple domains (or subdomains).


Google won't let you set the geographic target for country code domains. A .cn domain is automatically geo targeted to China in Google search and there is no way to change that. Google will treat www.example.cn/en/tax as targeting English speaking users in China rather than all English speaking users worldwide.

If you want to have your content rank in countries other than China, you should choose to use generic top-level domain like your .com example.

Either subdomains or sub-directories can work fine for language targeting and SEO. See How should I structure my URLs for both SEO and localization?

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