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I have built a website for a client following Google's multi-language website guide.

It allows to create a project (tutorial) in a user specified language. Depending on the project language the URL changes accordingly:

For English (no /en within URL)

http://example.com/project/33/my-own-trax

For Spanish (/es added to URL)

http://example.com/es/proyecto/31/mastines-de-nurgle

If you switch from project in English to Spanish menu's also change to keep the page in one language.

On the home page I display all projects in all languages:

http://example.com/

However, I find it a bit problematic for a user when menu's are switching languages when going from one project in English to Spanish to German and so on.

I would like to keep the menu in a visitor's language (let's say English) even though it is browsing a tutorial in french so it can easily navigate it.

Will I get penalized by Googlebot, if I apply this change?

If so, is there any way to avoid it but apply suggested change?

  • Questions to a particular website are not allowed. To prevent this from being put on hold, can you edit out the domain name and use something like example.com. If it becomes necessary to look at your site, we will ask for your domain name in a comment. Thanks. – closetnoc Jan 6 '15 at 21:22
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You should only ever show Googlebot pages in a single language. New users from Google search should also only see a single language on the landing page. Google asks that you not mix languages in a single page:

Avoid mixing languages on each page, as this may confuse Googlebot as well as your users. Keep navigation and content in the same language on each page.

If a user has set a language preference with you and you feel they would be served by showing menus in that language when the content is not available in that language, that shouldn't be a problem. Just make sure that bots and new users don't fall into this category.

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Take a look at this:

Screenshot

What I have done here is create three separate welcome pages with a common header at the top and only one language highlighted. The languages can be clickable to switch between each. I apologize if my french and spanish in each page is inaccurate. The buttons could point to the following URLs respectively:

http://example.com/en/home
http://example.com/fr/home
http://example.com/es/home

The reason why I use english words after every language is because it will be easier to manage later down the road, plus the odds of someone manually typing in a URL will be low.

Let's start with the english home page by adding content then links to a project page and a contact page, my available links would be:

http://example.com/en/home
http://example.com/fr/home
http://example.com/es/home
http://example.com/en/projects
http://example.com/en/contact

Now if we do a page for french in a similar way, the links on that page would be:

http://example.com/en/home
http://example.com/fr/home
http://example.com/es/home
http://example.com/fr/projects
http://example.com/fr/contact

And for the spanish page:

http://example.com/en/home
http://example.com/fr/home
http://example.com/es/home
http://example.com/es/projects
http://example.com/es/contact

Notice how in all above cases, I only changed the language code in the last two links? This is because on each page, the links people click on will need to be in the same language except for when they click the language button.

Also with the way I designed the links, there should be no duplicate content issues. unless you make two language pages the same. For example, you made a french home page the english home page instead.

If static links are insufficient for language switching for you, then you could implement cookies to keep states. This works well if you use a server-side language such as PHP.

If you'd rather have the language button jump to the last page visited in the previous language used, then you may need a server side language to set a cookie to match the current page visited then when the user selects another language, they are taken to a special page that reads the cookie then loads the correct page in the correct language.

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