I'm working for a popular .com retail site in the UK. We're expanding in to Europe in the coming few months, having the website translated in to several languages.
I've been reading a lot in Google Webmaster Tools Help with regards the URL design. It's left me quite confused!
I see two clear options for our .com site:
a) Have the languages as sub folders .com/fr/ .com/de/ .com/es/ etc... and geo-target in Webmaster Tools
b) Use completely distinct URls for each langauge .fr .de .es
What are the benefits of each in terms of getting the site ranking and SEO?
Are there any benefits to keeping everything under the one .com domain? Does Google rank multilingual sites better in the home country? Or is it better to start from scratch with a 'naturally' geo-targetted site such as .de?
Not an area that I have looked into in detail but the folder option assumes that one mega search engine will effectively provide all your traffic. Maybe true today but is it true for every target language and will it be true for them all in the future? Using ccTLDs should geotarget with little or no manual intervention but you have to be careful about restrictions on foreign registration.
I do not do retail, only international supply, and over the past 16 years or so have developed each country under its own specific extension and linked them all together through the navigation so that users can slide easily between one supply and another.
An example I often cite is to check out is the www .eu site of black and decker and see what they do. Ok, it is a big company with Europewide distribution however they decided to go local for every country except for Baltic for whatever reason.
Right my personal feelings?
Geo-targetting still seems to be the holy grail at the moment therefore using local extensions must make it easier for the SEs to target where your intended market is.
Just another thought if the worst came to the worst, it is much easier to close down a specific site rather than a section of a site.