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I know when targeting a specific country or region the best way to do it with the the ccTLD. But if you choose the sub-directory route, should those sub-directories be named the same way you would use the ccTLD?

For example the ccTLD for South Africa is .za so should my sub-directory be www.mysite.com/za/?

Also, is there a ccTLD for Africa and South America as a whole or is it best to target each individual country?

  • Interesting question about the folders. ccTLD's are by country only. I have a list of all TLDs made about a year ago including hidden or unknown TLDs, however, I would still point you to: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… anyway because I have not updated my list in a while. As far as folders are concerned, I would suggest using the ccTLD for that simply because they are well knows and for my own organization. – closetnoc Feb 26 '15 at 16:12
  • Thanks, I was actually browsing through that list last night. So Ideally, if I wanted to target the continent of Africa my sub directories would be: /za/, /dz/, /ma/, etc and then I would geotarget those sub directories in Google Webmaster tools? – brandozz Feb 26 '15 at 16:57
  • I do not know geo-targeting at all. Sorry. It is not something that I have ever done. But there are some here that do and are fairly expert on the subject. I almost wish I knew more. I sure would like to be able to help people if nothing else. – closetnoc Feb 26 '15 at 18:48
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should those sub-directories be named the same way you would use the ccTLD?

According to the Google Webmaster Tools on Multi-regional and multilingual sites under "URL structures" for subdirectories, you can use gTLDs as a subdirectory, however, as Google states here in regards specifying which URLs to use for multilingual regions:

Do not specify a country code by itself! Google does not automatically derive the language from the country code.

So for a country like South Africa which has multiple languages, you should use codes that specify the language in the ISO 639-1 format with the region using the ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format. The first example given there is for Ireland: http://example.com/en-ie (en for English and ie for Ireland).

For example the ccTLD for South Africa is .za so should my sub-directory be www.mysite.com/za/?

As indicated above, the format for an English version for South Africa would be: www.mysite.com/en-za/.

If you want to provide other versions (e.g., af for Afrikaans), then just follow the guidelines from Google on how to use hreflang for language and regional URLs to indicate to Google which language and regional version to serve in their search results.

Also, is there a ccTLD for Africa and South America as a whole or is it best to target each individual country?

There isn't a ccTLD for these continents as a whole since they're made up of many countries, some of which speak several different languages (e.g., South Africa). Therefore it's best to target them individually by language and region as covered above.

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Yes, folders can be named and targeted the same way that subdomains can be. You can add folders to Google Webmaster Tools and set the targeting there for each folder.

The only drawback to folders compared to subdomains is that you can't move the hosting into the country being targeted. Geographic location of the server can be an important signal to Google. It also makes the site faster because it is served near your visitors.

See How should I structure my URLs for both SEO and localization? where I have written a great deal more on this topic.

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