I have a multi-language / multi-country website which uses a single domain name. The url structure is as follows: country-name.example.com/language/


  • ca.example.com/en/
  • ca.example.com/fr/
  • uk.example.com/en/

Whenever a user enters example.com, I am identifying their country and redirecting them to their corresponding country. However, if a user came from an un-supported country, I am redirecting to a default country that I set, for example uk.example.com. I am using 301 redirects. Googlebot comes from an un-supported country and as a result, Google is associating example.com with uk.example.com because this is the default country that I'm redirecting to using 301 redirects.

That's why, I decided to have a landing/splash page where all the countries and languages are displayed. Instead of redirecting a user with an unsupported country to a default country, I would show them the landing page instead.

However, I read on http://blog.woorank.com/2014/08/top-10-pitfalls-of-international-seo/ that splash pages are detrimental for SEO.

Should splash pages be avoided at any cost? In this case, what would be the best way to proceed without affecting the ranking?

2 Answers 2


Splash screens are acceptable according to Google. They do offer some best practices however, when using multi-language/multi-regional sites.

In this article, Google recommends the use of the hreflang tag within <link rel="alternate" ... /> tag in the head. The specific excerpt from the article is below:

For language/country selectors or auto-redirecting homepages, you should add an annotation for the hreflang value "x-default" as well:

<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/" hreflang="x-default" />

Add this to your splash page and you should be set.

Additional Comments:

You may also want to look at this additional article:

This is the beginning page of Google's guide to creating global sites. It provides best practices with HTTP redirect headers and shows how to use the hreflang tags to avoid receiving a penalty for duplicate content. It also provides best practice recommendations and pros/cons on different global schemes such as using country code top level domains (ccTLDs), subdomains, directories, etc.


Just to make sure the google bots aren't gonna play a picky move, if you have a landing page, you might want to add a few more words to the page other than just the list of languages to choose from. Perhaps give a simple welcome message to the (insert website name here) in all the languages. At least then Google won't label the page as "thin content".

Another option you have is to add a language selector on the top of every page so that users can change the language to their choice. Simply list all languages on screen as a row of pictures of small country flags with a language abbreviation such as an American flag with the word "EN" under it for English. That way, when users browse your site, if they don't like the language, they can easily select another language without returning to the splash screen, thereby saving clicks.

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