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How to regionally target the English speaking users in Europe?
bigtoga




msg:4614661
 1:28 pm on Oct 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm in the process of planning expansion from our US-based .com. The language of the .com site is "en". The server is based in the US. I want to add a new server in the UK to serve our European users (for a faster experience, also price in Euros). I also want to rank in the various European Googles for the new European version of the site (for when they choose "English" as their Google language).

If I create a subdirectory version of my site hosted in the UK (http://www...com/eu/), then how can I signal to Google that this is the site to use for English-speaking European users? The .com has "en" as the language - so what language do I choose for this new subdirectory site that's hosted on another IP (new server location)?

1) If I choose "en" as the language for it, I risk a duplicate content penalty since the http://www...com/ and http://www...com/eu/ would effectively have the same text (except the /eu/ version would have Euro prices vs. USD)

2) If I choose "en_GB", I risk that Google views that this is a site for UK users only (rather than English speakers in Germany, Poland, Turkey, etc)? Long term, I'd like this new site to replace our .com in the English version of Google.de and Google.pl, for example.

FYI - I've watched Google's latest video but can't find anything about this specific idea: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2013/09/video-expanding-your-site-to-more.html [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com...]

[edited by: aakk9999 at 3:15 pm (utc) on Oct 4, 2013]
[edit reason] Unlinked URLs [/edit]

 

aakk9999




msg:4614676
 3:13 pm on Oct 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

I am wonderig if this is the same domain you discussed in this thread or a different one?
Geotargeting by region, not by country... for faster downloads? [webmasterworld.com...]

If I create a subdirectory version of my site hosted in the UK (http://www...com/eu/)

You cannot host subfolder on a different host from the main domain - hosting cannot resolve to subfolder in URL. To host in europe, you will need to create a subdomain and not a subfolder.

If I choose "en_GB"
It is en-GB (hyphen, not underscore). But yes, this would target users in UK, not in Europe. Perhaps you may need to rely on giving users a link "Click here if you are in Europe to see prices in EUR" or similar.
bigtoga




msg:4614685
 4:46 pm on Oct 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think it's a related question but is it the same? No - in this thread, I'm hoping for direction on which language to use for targeting English-speaking Euro users only. The other thread is a "Should I use a ccTLD, gTLD, subfolder, subdomain to target by region?" type of thing.

You are right, of course, about the subfolder/subdomain + hyphens!

aakk9999




msg:4614693
 5:39 pm on Oct 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think it's a related question but is it the same? I'm hoping for direction on which language to use for targeting English-speaking Euro users only.

Not a problem at all, this thread is fine on its own right :) I only asked because, if this is the same domain as in the other thread, then by reading your other post members can get a big wider background on the issue you have with your domain - which may (or may not) help with responses.


The problem you have described (target users by region) comes up from time to time and I am not really aware of a good solution.

I am wondering whether buying ccTLDs (or geotargeting subdomains) to each country would work. So instead having one domain, you would have many domains, one perhaps for each country in europe, that would be in English.

*Theoretically* this should not have a duplicate content issue since Google should be able to filter results for each country - however you will start from zero with new domain(s) and the result may easily be in new domain(s) not ranking.

If your site ranks well enough and the problems you try to resolve are:

- speed of download of your products (as mentioned in your other thread)
- currency shown being EUR (this would be for countries in Eurozone only)

To achieve the above but to avoid risk to ranking, I would probably have a selection (button or dropdown) saying "I am in [Europe]" where you could redirect the user to european domain/subdomain (and have this other sub/domain blocked or canonicalised to the main domain).

Or you could check the IP and display message "You are in Germany - click here to visit our European site for faster download and prices in EUR".

But I guess this is not what you wanted to hear.

If members have another idea on how to solve OP problem, I would be very interested too as I also work with multinational sites.

bigtoga




msg:4615092
 12:58 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the helpful reply. I don't really want to go down the road of buying one ccTLD per country - it's unfortunate that Google/et al were so short-sighted to have not foreseen this sort of thing. This highlights what we've seen as problems introduced by Google before - the "solution" is "create 50 more websites that are identical except for the domain name". Reminds me of how people used to game PageRank years ago - the "solution" to ranking better was "create 50 more pages that are identical except for the title" (or some slight variation). It only took them 12-13 years to mostly get past that so I have plenty of time to (a) do it wrong, (b) then get penalized when they change algos haha.

I think, in the end, geo-IP based javascript dialog box will be the right solution. It's not to intrusive, and allows them to dismiss it once and forever. I'll probably have a drop down or flags in the top right corner to make it persistently obvious as an option.

Lots to ponder. Thanks again.

Lame_Wolf




msg:4615141
 3:49 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

@bigtoga
On a side note, please remember Great Britain (not UK) uses GBP and not the Euro.

There was a site that I used to deal with that was USA based. They too opened up a european site and charged in Euros. No good for people in England, Scotland or Wales.

HTH
LW

lucy24




msg:4615145
 4:26 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Great Britain (not UK)

They use euros in northern Ireland now? Who knew.

It's analogous to targeting mobile users isn't it? Use IP detection --or other method of your choice-- to default to an en-gb version, but make sure the en-us option is always available. If nothing else, your Canadian visitors will like having the choice. (Look at their UAs and you'll see a mix of en-us, en-ca and en-gb, so obviously individual preference is a factor.)

And, as with any translation, make sure it really is British English. It isn't just lifts and lorries; there are tiny points of usage that you don't know unless you know.

bigtoga




msg:4615149
 4:40 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is fabulous info/advice - thank you both. I had not considered the GBP/Euro deal at all.

Although, the more I think about it, this will make things a bit more difficult. The "dropdown/option for people to choose server close to then" will have to say something like:

- North America
- England/Great Britain
- Europe (but not England/GB)
- Australia
- India, etc

Lame_Wolf




msg:4615151
 4:48 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

They use euros in northern Ireland now? Who knew

That's why I said Great Britain and not UK.

Lame_Wolf




msg:4615153
 4:53 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Although, the more I think about it, this will make things a bit more difficult. The "dropdown/option for people to choose server close to then" will have to say something like:

- North America
- England/Great Britain
- Europe (but not England/GB)
- Australia
- India, etc


I wouldn't put "England/Great Britain" as it will piss off the Welsh and the Scots (although that is not hard to do.)

Put..
- Great Britian
- Rest of Europe

OR

- Europe (Euro)
- Europe (GBP)

HTH
LW

*Great Britain doesn't include Northern Ireland.

bigtoga




msg:4615157
 5:01 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Ooooh great stuff. Wow - what am I getting us into... haha

aakk9999




msg:4615177
 6:31 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Unless something changed like very very recently, the official currency of Northen Ireland is British Pound and not Euro.

Republic of Ireland uses EUR.

bigtoga




msg:4615179
 6:36 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Follow-on/up question - is "en-GB" the language I should use for "all countries in Europe" or...

Lame_Wolf




msg:4615182
 6:55 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Unless something changed like very very recently, the official currency of Northen Ireland is British Pound and not Euro.

Republic of Ireland uses EUR.


True to a point. Although Northern Ireland use sterling pound as the official currency, banks retain the right to print their own sterling-denominated banknotes. (Bank of Ireland, Northern Bank, First Trust Bank and Ulster Bank.)

But when online you'll find a lot of Northern Irish selling in Euros. Personally, I prefer the punt.

lucy24




msg:4615195
 8:36 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

* Great Britain doesn't include Northern Ireland.

Er, yes, that was my point. "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" ... and then all you have to do is squabble over whether the major islands and island groups (Man, Jersey, Orkneys etc etc) count as GB.

aakk9999




msg:4615212
 10:48 pm on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Follow-on/up question - is "en-GB" the language I should use for "all countries in Europe" or...

I would use just "en".

SevenCubed




msg:4615255
 3:45 am on Oct 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

@bigtoga

So far much of this discussion appears to revolve around the html language attribute.

Have you given any consideration to on-page text because that can have an effect too. A few quick examples:

Center (USA English) vs Centre (International English)
Favor (USA English) vs Favour (International English)

There are many other instances. Your focus should not be solely concerned with machine code or launching points but also in text readability. There's benefit to be gained for American companies who make an effort to use International English when setting out to do what you are undertaking.

I recently read a book (translated into English from German) published for English readers that, from my perspective due to the subject matter, would likely attract more of an international audience than a local American one (where the book was printed). Yet, the English used was American rather than International.

The international community has grown used to that and most will not let the spelling errors bother them. However if you are specifically going to be making an effort to target English speaking Europeans then it's something else to add to your list for consideration if you haven't already.

stever




msg:4615266
 7:12 am on Oct 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would just note that there is a not insignificant amount of traffic available from people who do NOT have their browser language set to English but who are perfectly happy to search in English when necessary as they are pretty fluent in it (a lot of wealthy/younger eastern Europeans; Scandinavians; Dutch; German-speaking countries).

>>Wow - what am I getting us into... haha
Indeed. For example, as one of the multilingual people above, I would punt any site that attempted to redirect me based on browser language settings, although a number of people here use it as their preferred method.

lucy24




msg:4615269
 7:37 am on Oct 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would punt any site that attempted to redirect me based on browser language settings

I don't think it matters so much what the site does with the first page on your first visit-- that's why I brought up mobile versions as an analogy. What matters is that once you've made a choice, the site will remember that choice. Always assuming, ahem, that the EU doesn't throw fresh fits about cookies.

And yes, I know people whose first language is German but they've deliberately set their browsers to English because they're so tired of being bounced to badly translated German.

bigtoga




msg:4615301
 11:00 am on Oct 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is turning into a very useful thread - thank you to everyone who has offered ideas and opinions.

We've talked about a whole wealth of good information, but I don't feel we've resolved one of my main concerns:

How do you avoid a duplicate content penalty if you have a www..com using "en" and an eu..com using "en"?

I can't use rel="alternate" hreflanguage="en" for both sites without risk. Even with slight regional variations (color/colour, etc), it's not going to be enough - perhaps 1-2 words per page for our site. I can set that up with the www..co.uk/"en-GB" site easily enough (and that won't suffer a duplicate content penalty if I follow the guidelines) but the question is really how to differentiate *to Google* two sites that use the same hreflanguage but are regionally different?

My guess is, "Well, Google didn't think that anyone would need to do what you're trying to do thus you can't really do that without suffering a duplicate content penalty."

bigtoga




msg:4615451
 8:38 pm on Oct 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Here's what I'm thinking - on each page of all sites, add the following:

<link rel="canonical" href="<to the .com version>" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflanguage="x-default" href="<to the .com version>" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflanguage="en-GB" href="<to the eu..com/gbp/ version>" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflanguage="en" href="<to the eu..com version>" />

The potential problem here is the .com version is already "en" thus I've redefined/duplicated/somethingbad.

Any thoughts on this model? I hate being out on a limb here - this should be easy. It's not like I'm even the 1,000,000th webmaster to need to provide something like this. Sorry - ranting at Google's engineering team (not anyone here) haha.

aakk9999




msg:4615464
 9:45 pm on Oct 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think using canonical and hreflang together is not a good idea. Google says:

FAQ: Internationalisation
https://sites.google.com/site/webmasterhelpforum/en/faq-internationalisation [sites.google.com]
Bold emphasis in quoted text is mine
Q: Can I use “rel=canonical” together with “rel-alternate-hreflang”?
A: We recommend not using rel=canonical across different language or country versions. Using it within the same language/country version is fine and one of the recommended ways of handling canonicalization.

And this:

rel="alternate" hreflang="x"
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/189077?hl=en [support.google.com]
Some example scenarios where rel="alternate" hreflang="x" is recommended:
...
Your pages have broadly similar content within a single language, but the content has small regional variations. For example, you might have English-language content targeted at readers in the US, GB, and Ireland.

From what I can understand, you should not have a duplicate content issue if you use hreflang as each version of the page would target a different region.

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