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I have a website which has separate front pages for some countries.

If you visit www.example.com it will redirect you to either www.example.com/uk or www.example.com/ie or www.example.com/global.

This is OK, and incidentally is how The Guardian newspaper works. But I was thinking it might be bad for SEO for the front page to always hit a redirect.

Instead: should a visitor come from the UK, I was thinking about www.example.com being a copy of the UK front page, with a CANONICAL of www.example.com/uk - so it returns the correct UK content, with a canonical to the bookmarkable page, but doesn't have a redirect at the start.

Are there any benefits/drawbacks from doing this?

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Your question has to dimension to take into consideration.

  1. handling multiple languages
  2. handling duplicates

Handling multiple languages

Organizing language versions in subdirectories is a good strategy. For me it is best practise. If you are able to identify which language/country your user is looking for redirect him to the right directory. If not - lead him to your global start page. That is fine so far.

If you visit www.example.com it will redirect you to either www.example.com/uk or www.example.com/ie or www.example.com/global.

That's fine.

Handling multiple languages for different search engines:

Google and Yandex are using hreflang as a guide to multilanguage pages. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/189077?hl=en https://help.yandex.com/webmaster/yandex-indexing/localized-markup.xml

A sample configuration for your page may look like this:

<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/ie" hreflang="en-ie" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/uk" hreflang="en-gb" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/global" hreflang="x-default" />

Always make sure your hreflang is also self-referential!

Bing uses language meta-tags. http://blogs.bing.com/webmaster/2011/03/01/how-to-tell-bing-your-websites-country-and-language/

A sample configuration for example.com/uk may look like this:

<meta http-equiv=”content-language” content=”en-uk”>

You can check for language detection in the search engine's own web master tools:

Google: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ Yandex: https://webmaster.yandex.com/ Bing: http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster

Handling page duplicates

By always redirecting to one of your language directories you handle the duplicate example.com and example.com/global fine.

Make sure you are always using a 301 redirect. Then there is no problem for your homepage being redirected to a subdirectory. Depending on the location a web crawler visits your page it always is redirected to the right version of your page. Indexing the example.com duplicate is omitted.

As you said:

This is OK, and incidentally is how The Guardian newspaper works.

It works.

If your web server accepts URLs that do not contain a language directory like example.com/topics/article-01 make sure those get either redirected to their equivalent version (f.e example.com/global/topics/article-01) or have a canonical link element pointing to their equivalent.

  • Really helpful, Seb, thank you. The site is in English throughout, and most of the pages don't have the /uk/ filters (etc) on them. But I want different users to see different front pages; just didn't know whether I'm better avoiding the redirect. – jamescridland Jul 24 '15 at 12:25
  • There is no problem in redirecting your home page. Just make sure you're using the right type of redirect, which is a 301. – Seb Jul 27 '15 at 8:54
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If you visit www.example.com it will redirect you to either www.example.com/uk or www.example.com/ie or www.example.com/global.

It is a good idea to have separate folders since you want to omit redirects. Just don't ask google to index pages from www.example.com directly. Only ask it to index the pages from folders within www.example.com/uk, www.example.com/ie, and www.example.com/global.

I personally use the noindex option to the robots meta-tag to example.com and all other pages that may qualify as duplicates since its more compatible with more search engines.

Just add this line to all your HTML code anywhere between <head> and </head> on all pages that you plan to add canonical to:

<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX">

If possible, you should consider changing your setup so that you use sub domains to represent each country. For example, ie.example.com, uk.example.com, and global.example.com. Google will then treat them as separate websites.

And as always, use webpagetest.org to test average loading speed to ensure users can browse your pages just as fast.

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