I have a website, that is available in, let's say, 3 countries (with data specific to each country), and provide users the posibility to see every website in each of the 3 primary languages of those countries plus English.

Example url structure:

company.es (default language "ES")
  company.es/en - (Spanish data in English language)
  company.es/de - (Spanish data in German language)
company.de (default language "DE")
  company.de/en - (German data in English language)
company.fr (default language "FR")

I also want to increase the ranking for each newer TLD, using links from the already established ones.

The issue is that I target some users from Spain to use the German website (in Spanish language), so therefore I have links from a country to all countries (keeping the language), e.g. company.es links to company.de/es .

I want Google to understand the fact that there is different data on each top level domain, and that country-specific data is available in every language.

Does my current linking scheme support that?

And more importantly, does Google see pages like company.de and company.es/de as duplicate content?

According to this page on Google Webmaster Help, I shouldn't be worried about duplicate content because Google treats them as targeted towards different users, but does that still apply in the case mentioned above?

Duplicate content and international sites

Websites that provide content for different regions and in different languages sometimes create content that is the same or similar but available on different URLs. This is generally not a problem as long as the content is for different users in different countries. While we strongly recommend that you provide unique content for each different group of users, we understand that this may not always be possible. There is generally no need to "hide" the duplicates by disallowing crawling in a robots.txt file or by using a "noindex" robots meta tag. However, if you're providing the same content to the same users on different URLs (for instance, if both example.de/ and example.com/de/ show German language content for users in Germany), you should pick a preferred version and redirect (or use the rel=canonical link element) appropriately. In addition, you should follow the guidelines on rel-alternate-hreflang to make sure that the correct language or regional URL is served to searchers.

Source: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192?hl=en#3

I have also read this question and went through most of the links, but I don't think it applies for my particular case when there are different TLDs with similar content (but different data e.g. local listings) in same languages.

  • In addition to the complexity of your multi-regional and multilingual site organisations, it would be unclear to us how much the "data" differentiates the content between company.es/de and company.de, making this question difficult to answer in regards to duplicate content. Can you clarify that?
    – dan
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 4:44
  • Think of classified listings, but without any user-generated text. Just specs, values, labels that can easily be translated. And of course, a listing is specific to a country (tied to a physical object & address)
    – Cristian
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 14:45

1 Answer 1


As your question states, they are websites using the same application and maybe the same look and feel (template); they work exactly the same way.

First, you must set Geographic target in Google Webmaster Tools => Site Settings, for every site according to its locale.

Different content for different geographic targets.

If your classified listings, and websites in general, are completely different in regards of content then:

Do not include rel="canonical" pointing to another ccTLD URL, they are different sites for different audiences, pages are different from site to site, not duplicate content. Do implement rel-alternate-hreflang between pages in the same site that targets different languages, if they are a translation of each other. As an example, for your company.es homepage you should add these links (into the <head> element):

<link rel="alternative" hreflang="es-ES" href="http://company.es" /> <!-- Self referencing -->
<link rel="alternative" hreflang="en-ES" href="http://company.es/en" />
<link rel="alternative" hreflang="de-ES" href="http://company.es/de" />
<link rel="alternative" hreflang="fr-ES" href="http://company.es/fr" />

Add a resource such as "Change your location" for letting visitors to jump from one target location (site to site) to another. You are already doing this.

Same content per language on different ccTLD's, not a translation between languages.

If your classified listings, and websites in general, are the same in regards of content per language, i.e. company.es and company.de/es display the same content:

Do include rel="canonical" pointing to your preferred URL, they have the same content, only one of them should be the master. This way, company.de/es, company.en/es, company.fr/es should contain (into the <head> element):

<link rel="canonical" href="http://company.es" />

Take into account that these links should be added per page.

Some references:
Creating the Right Homepage for your International Users.
Multi-regional and multilingual sites.
Use canonical URLs.
Help Google serve the correct language or regional URL.

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