I have a multilanguage site with urls like this

https://example.org/en/ads/2
https://example.org/es/ads/2
https://example.org/it/ads/2

which serve the site in different languages. My site also accepts URLs like this

https://example.org/ads/2

In that case the content is served in the default language (Spanish).

The site does not generate any URLs without locale. It accepts this kind of URLs, but then any following links for internal navigation are generated with the default locale (es).

I've been told that this is bad for SEO because different URLs (https://example.org/ads/2, https://example.org/es/ads/2) serve the same content.

Is this true? If yes, why?

up vote 20 down vote accepted

If you canonicalise appropriately, it is fine. Use rel="canonical" to specify that the pages are identical, and hreflang for the alternate languages.

<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.org/es/ads/2">
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="https://example.org/en/ads/2">
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="https://example.org/es/ads/2">
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="it" href="https://example.org/it/ads/2">

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