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I'm currently working on a multi-language website. I want to target different regions and each region should have its own site. I currently have two languages for my website: Dutch and English. So I can choose to have http://www.example.com/nl/ and http://www.example.com/en/.

But I want to target Belgian users (that speak Dutch) and all English speaking countries (UK, US and CA) as well. So I thought it is better to do this:

  • http://www.example.com/be/
  • http://www.example.com/nl/
  • http://www.example.com/uk/
  • http://www.example.com/us/
  • http://www.example.com/ca/

The /be/ and /nl/ will have exactly the same content. The /uk/, /us/ and /ca/ too. I think my website will attract more people if they see their own country code in the URL.

Now, there are a lot of questions about duplicate content with multi-language websites, but I can't find an answer for this question in particular. Can I target users with the hreflang attribute this way or should I only keep the /en/ and /nl/?

  • So you only want to separate by regions because you think the users prefer to see their region code in the URL, and not because you actually have region-specific content (e.g., prices in that region’s currency)? – unor Apr 23 '16 at 22:53
  • Yes, but mainly because my website is a game and it's 'country' vs 'country'. So there is text like: 'join the army of Great Britain'. – Jordy Apr 23 '16 at 23:23
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why countries? divide into languages! so you will have two folders: english and dutch. even better to have only english, which is understandable in both of belgiё and holland.

Seriously, use any possibility to simplify your site and take any thinkable way to avoid duplicated content. less folders/less content → less crawling → better indexing → better ranking.

hreflang will work effectively only in case that each page in a given language has their counterparts in all other language versions. example.com/en/page1.html should have their counterparts like

  • example.com/uk/page1.html,
  • example.com/ca/page1.html,
  • example.com/nl/page1.html,
  • example.com/be/page1.html.

And each of them should be bidirectionally related to all other language versions with hreflang. example.com/en/page1.html should also have

  • <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-UK" href="http://example.com/uk/" />
  • <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-CA" href="http://example.com/ca/" />
  • <link rel="alternate" hreflang="nl-NL" href="http://es.example.com/nl/" />
  • <link rel="alternate" hreflang="nl-BE" href="http://es.example.com/be/" />

This works, but should be avoided - occam's razor cuts such garbage off.

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If I understand your use case correctly, you have a multi-lingual game in which players can choose a country.

Assuming that it should be possible for an English speaking player from Germany to choose the ingame country France, you have to make sure to separate these three things (language, country, ingame country).

As you only use the visitor’s current physical location for suggesting which ingame country to play (and you don’t target that region with specific content except for the ingame country suggestion), I think there is no need to represent the detected visitor region in the URL. Search engine bots don’t really have a good reason to show their users region-specific URLs for your site.
You could of course still detect the visitor’s location and use the matching ingame country as default value, either by redirecting to that ingame country’s page, or by highlighting a link to that page (and offering the option to choose a different ingame country in both cases).

Assuming that each ingame country should have its own page where players can join, see the differences from other ingame countries, etc., I think it would be a good idea to have URLs like these:

http://example.com/en/join-the-army-of-france
http://example.com/de/trete-der-armee-von-frankreich-bei

or less verbose:

http://example.com/en/France
http://example.com/de/Frankreich

or something like that (possibly with a namespace like /join/ or similar).

(It might be neater to use a subdomain for the language instead, e.g. http://en.example.com/France and http://de.example.com/Frankreich, especially if players with different languages can’t play together.)

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I don't see any point to divide the website and point your users based on their location especially if those website contain the same content in same language. It will make sense to create websites divided by languages. Just if your services that you offer are completely different in other countries so you may chose in this option.

Make sure to use hreflang tag to tell to search engines that you it's a copy of a local or a page in other langauge that exist in your website. If you use hreflang you can target to specific pages but it's recommended that you will create sub-folders for each local website. Another point that I would suggest you to consider at first is about the images, if you duplicate them in each website or load from main domain to save space.

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