I have a site that has seen large organic growth over the year. But in Moz, there's one major issue: the site is creating duplicate content. Because there are several versions of the homepage (targeted at certain countries):

  • example.com (default)
  • example.com/en (English)
  • example.com/nz
  • etc.

Now in robots.txt these country extensions are blocked, but Google is indexing them anyway.

So what happens is that some of our high ranking keywords are pointing to example.com/blogpost and for other keywords we are ranking with example.com/en/blogpost

So as canonical urls will (probably?) resolve the duplicate content issue, I'm worried that we will lose any rankings that involve urls with the country extension.

How to tackle this?


In order to indicate to Google that you want a certain version of the page to be served to searchers using Google in that country for example,

A German version of the site to only be displayed to people using Google in Germany.

You will need to use:

rel="alternate" hreflang="x"

Use 'x' to identify alternative language versions for the site.

rel="alternate" hreflang="x" is used at a page level, not at a site level so you will need to mark up each set of pages, including the homepage, as necessary.

A final example may look like this.

rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="http://de.example.com/seite.html" 

This should ensure that you won't lose rankings, and the page should rank for the country it's intended for.

  • 2
    This answer doesn't say so explicitly, but you should not use canonicals. Use the alternate hreflang instead. Oct 5 '16 at 15:57
  • Thanks guys. The weird thing is, is that different homepages were created for these countries (so /nz for example), but the blogs are not different in language or anything. So every blog just has 5 urls with the same content and language. I don't want to have every language tagged, is it does not differ from each other. That makes it a different story, right? The CMS just creates /nz urls for every url, not only the homepage. And now it's too late as a lot of them are ranking. Whats the best thing to do?
    – Roland
    Oct 5 '16 at 16:22

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