I have a site which has a default url say "http://www.blahblah.com/" (which is default in english language). In my site there is support for multi languages. I am having few links at my home page say "English" "French" "Spanish" etc. and on clicking these links user is redirected to these links:

http://www.blahblah.com/en-us/ (English)

http://www.blahblah.com/fr-ca/ (French)

http://www.blahblah.com/spanish-culture/ (Spanish)

and based on culture in the url I am showing the content accordingly to end users in their desired language. Now, this was how my site is. The issue I am getting is with SEO. I noticed Google is considering (I checked via Google web masters) my site pages as duplicate like:

1. http://www.blahblah.com/documents/ and http://www.blahblah.com/en-us/documents/

2. http://www.blahblah.com/news/ and http://www.blahblah.com/en-us/news

and similarly all the pages are considered as a duplicate content in Google webmasters tools. I am worried of this, since I think my site is getting penalized in ranking because of this. Could you drop some idea how to overcome this situation?

  • Google doesn't necessarily penalize duplicate content, but it is likely to only show one of the pages that it does consider to be duplicate. Just to clarify... are you saying that http://www.blahblah.com/news/ does not have the same content as http://www.blahblah.com/en-us/news? And Google has got it wrong? Or that the parent page defaults to showing /en-us/ content, and they are in fact the same?
    – MrWhite
    Sep 7, 2012 at 16:24
  • they are infact same. Sep 7, 2012 at 20:04

2 Answers 2


By having 'duplicate content', Google itself will decide which page to return in the SERPs - not you. Either http://www.blahblah.com/news/ OR http://www.blahblah.com/en-us/news. That is the only "penalty".

By removing the "duplicate", YOU decide which page Google returns in the SERPs.

In order to remove the duplicate content you need to tell Google which is the preferred page. You can do this by either redirecting (301 - permanent redirect) from one to the other, or by specifying a <link rel="canonical"... element in the head section, explicitly stating the canonical (preferred) URL.

Which is the preferred page is really up to you, but I would perhaps choose the page with the default language (ie. en-us) as the canonical page and simply redirect to it. Then all page URLs have the same structure. So, any requests for http://www.blahblah.com/news/ get redirected to the default language, ie. http://www.blahblah.com/en-us/news, etc. Since you already have an English link that goes to http://www.blahblah.com/en-us/, this would seem to make sense IMO.


You can use rel="alternate" hreflang="x" in either HTML, XML Sitemap or HTTP header to manage duplicate content across languages/regions in Google. So you could have, for example:

  • US: rel="alternate" hreflang="en-US"
  • UK: rel="alternate" hreflang="en-GB"
  • Canada (French): rel="alternate" hreflang="fr-CA"

Being sure to use correct ISO codes, of course. Note that this needs to happen at page level, so blahblah.com/en-us/nuts.html would have to specify it's equivalents in whatever other languages or language variants you have available. Also note that you have to specify the current page as an alternative of itself.

Another key thing is to make sure your content is actually in the right language or variant for the region you're targeting, so English content intended for the UK should use British English conventions and spellings.

And on that point, if you're only providing - or only need to provide - one set of English content for the whole of the English speaking world, just use "en" and omit the country code.

Bing, I believe, still uses language meta, so you could use the lang attribute - <html lang="en-US"> - or the meta tag.

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