We own multiple country code top-level domains for our website

e.g DE, UK ,FR.

When someone visits for one of those domains they redirect to .com and the language automatically changes for the first time to the one from the originating domain.

Also users can change the language from the .com website using a dropdown, however the page URI stays exactly the same e.g service.php.

  1. How will that be indexed in Google ? Will all the different language will be indexed or only the default lang (English) ?
  2. Is it recommended for SEO purposes to do something with the page URL (even using the htaccess maybe) so that I can also append to the title or page name the language ? e.g service.php?lang=fr

1 Answer 1


Your redirection rule and dropdown menu are not ideal from an SEO standpoint. Google won't be able to crawl and index your content properly unless you have different URLs for each language. See: How should I structure my URLs for both SEO and localization? From an SEO standpoint, you shouldn't choose the language based on a URL parameter, the user's browser settings, the user's IP address, or where the user came from. Rather it should be chosen based on the domain name, sub-domain, or folder. Since you own the country domains, I would suggest publishing your content on them directly.

As for the URL path, I have seen it done both ways. Advantages to keeping the URL path in a single language (such as English):

  • Easier to implement
  • The rule for switching between languages doesn't require a database look up
  • It doesn't get penalized by search engines

The disadvantages:

  • It will make it obvious to some international users that your site was not built in their language. This will likely turn a few of those users away which can indirectly hurt rankings. Not many users actually look at the URL path and there are usually other areas in which translations and localization can be improved that will satisfy more users with less cost.
  • I can completely attest for this, as someone who runs a site in 50 languages, the only reason I gained so much traction was because of having separate URLS which were translated at /es/hola /de/hallo ... (and I put them into the sitemap as well) May 20, 2021 at 20:48

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