How to optimize multi-language websites (and how to tell Google that they should index the right pages)

If you have a multi-language website it can be difficult to get high rankings in the respective countries. This article will help you to optimize your multi-user website so that your web pages will get high rankings in the right countries.

1. Optimize the URL structure of your website

A) Use unique country domains

The best way to show Google that a part of your website is relevant to a particular country is to create an independent website for the country.

For example, Amazon.de is for Germany, Amazon.co.uk is for the United Kingdom. Google recommends dedicated country code top level domains as the preferred options for websites that are available in different languages.

B) Create a unique sub domain for each country

If you don’t want to use country code top level domains, you can create a unique sub domain for each language. For example, you could use en.amazon.com, de.amazon.com, fr.amazon.com, etc.

Technically, a sub domain is totally independent from the main domain and it is relatively easy for search engine crawlers to index the sub domain as a country specific part of your website.

Theoretically, you could use sub directories (amazon.com/en/, amazon.com/de/, etc.) or URL parameters (&lang=de, &lang=en) to direct search engine robots to the different language versions of your website.

This method, however, often confuses search engine robots and it can happen that your web pages get lower rankings than they should.

2. Tell search engine robots that you have different language versions

The rel=’alternate’ attribute enables you to tell search engines that a web page is available in different language versions. For example, you could add the following to the head section of a web page if that page is available in English, German and French:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”//en.example.com” hreflang=”en” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”//de.example.com” hreflang=”de” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”//.fr.example.com” hreflang=”fr” />

All other languages can be directed to the default version of your website:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”//example.com” hreflang=”x-default” />

When you create different versions of your website for different languages, do not just translate the content of your web pages. Different countries have different cultures. Things that work well in one country might not work in another.

Get an international SEO tool

If you haven’t done it yet, create your SEOprofiler account now. SEOprofiler is a full-featured SEO tool that will help you to get better rankings on Google in many languages. SEOprofiler supports 68 different countries and regions:

Try SEOprofiler risk-free!

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Johannes Selbach

Johannes Selbach is the CEO of SEOprofiler. He blogs about search engine optimization and website marketing topics at "http://blog.seoprofiler.com".

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