I use a CMS for my website which has built in "translations" - a drop down menu on the home page that allows a visitor to select a language. There are many language options, I'm guessing 30+. Once a language is selected (other than the default language), the website Nav updates to that language. The content remains in English.

My site has really been struggling with SEO and, oddly, I was delighted when I saw in Google-Webmaster-Tools, under html improvements, that I have 3,686 duplicate titles. I was delighted at the prospect of potentially, finally, diagnosing my problem. Does this sound like "it". How big a deal is this?

I calculate that my website has about 136 "True", original unique pages. GWT has indexed over 67,000 URLs.

When I drill down on the duplicate links in GWT it does appear that language translations are causing the duplicate content.

Bearing in mind that Google is correct - the content is duplicated, will removing the translations actually make any improvement? It's not like I have unique content with duplicate titles. In other words, my question is "am I being punished by Google?"

What should I do next? Remove the translations? They are hardly used anyway. Or, should I set up 301s? Since I'm using a CMS and have limited dev skills bot of these options will be reasonably challenging for me so I want to choose best way forward.

To summarize:

Are duplicate titles having a negative impact given that the content really is just duplicate due to translations/language options?

1 Answer 1


Google doesn't consider the same content in different languages on a site as duplicate content, as discussed here by Matt Cutts: Does translated content cause a duplicate content issue?

You indicated that you have roughly 136 unique pages which are translated into approximately 30 languages. Doing the math on this (136 x 30 = 4080), that seems to correspond to the 3,686 duplicate titles that Google is reporting.

My hunch therefore is that you might have used Google Translate to automatically translate your pages into all of the different languages, in which case Google would view that as duplicate content because it did the translation instead of a human. This is also covered in the video by Matt Cutts (~0:41) as can be seen here.

If that's the case, then you should remove the automatically translated pages and create 410 errors for them using your web server configuration to let Google know that they're no longer available.

You should also disallow the URLs for them from being crawled/requested using your robots.txt, as covered here: Block or remove pages using a robots.txt file. Also make sure that they don't appear in your sitemap or elsewhere in your site's content.

Finally use the Fetch as Google Tool to trigger re-crawling for the 136 unique pages. It could take several weeks for the errors to resolve, so just work on improving the content for your site during that time and applying some of the other SEO advice that can found on this site (like under the "frequent" tab).

  • No problem - good luck!
    – dan
    Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 19:11

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