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How to become an international, multi-language site?
Client ranks in UK. Now wants all other countries too

 9:20 am on Aug 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

We have a client that ranks well in the UK search engines for a business that can sell products all over the world.

When you search in English on google.fr and google.es they still show well, but obviously a lot of people in the other European countries (and beyond) use their own languages a lot more.

The client has asked us to look into ways the site can be 'internationaliased'. We've never been involved in this, so were wondering what the project would entail.

I guess it includes:

1. Having each page of the site translated into a local language
2. Having those pages checked by someone in the country for any localisation issues (i.e. quirky words/phrases that aren't used or may cause offense)
3. Build in either subdomains or sections of the site for each language (which is best?) and place all pages there
4. Once the site is live, build links from each country to the subdomain/pages to make google see it as more relevant in that country
5. Ideally, with Google Places as prominent as it is, put local contact details on each section of the site and then register these in a Google Places listing in each country.

Has anyone done this before? Any and all assistance is greatly received.



 6:00 pm on Aug 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Don't forget about hosting: if you can afford it, set up separate servers for and within each of the targeted countries. If you use subdomains -- which would have my preference if the international sites are mere translations of the UK site -- you can add those to Google Webmaster Tools as separate sites and associate them with the corresponding geographic target.


 1:42 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes to all of the above, but Rob hit the nail on the head, hosting will probably be the toughest to sort out especially if you opt for servers in each location, this however is the most expensive option but it may not be practical if your covering a lot of territories, subdomains is the practical way to go but I would expect less impact in searches.

Translations can be expensive too, you'll needd to shop around, i found it cheaper to go through the website developers as opposed to getting then done elsewhere.


 12:33 pm on Sep 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

avoid automatic redirection based on the browser language as it's confusing for Google.
Google place will be a problem as you need to have a branch address in each country you target.
In my opinion subfolders are easier to manage and Google accept domain.com/fr/index.html for instance as long as your targeted audience in the webmaster tool is France.
If you need some help with your french version, send me a pm.


 12:44 pm on Sep 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

You can target France all you like ( in WMT or elsewhere ) ..but unless you have a .fr ( and the eligibility conditions are strict ..must be French*./.must be resident in France* ./.must have a French business registration number* ) ..you won't rank as high on searches from here ( in either French or English..no matter what their language settings are or what your on page language is, site or folder structure looks like ) as those who do fulfill one of the conditions required to register a .fr.

Helps enormously to be hosted in France too..

* any one of these will do..

Germany is even more stringent with regard to the requirements for .de.

Bing is even more "picky" about geo-targeted results..

Inbounds from French language pages hosted in France will be worth more to your pages ( and thus SERP rankings for those pages ) than inbounds from non French hosted pages in French which will in their turn be worth more than inbounds from non French hosted pages in other languages..even if the PR of the latter two is higher than the former ..etc etc.

** There are French based services ( I do not mean the French registrars ..nor the non French based but AFNIC approved registrars of which a certain "daddy" is one..there are others ) which will register "by proxy" a .fr for those who do not meet the above conditions.


 9:45 pm on Sep 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry Leo but, I don't agree with you, you can rank high in Google.fr without having a .fr
Try by yourself "création site internet" for instance, which is high competition, the serp (with 50 results) is:
12 are .fr
rest are .com .net .org even .be and .ca

The .fr, as a french IP does help for sure but is not mandatory.
Otherwise, I do agree with you about back-links from .fr website and french IP, it's a strong signal to Google that the website is related to France.


 10:03 pm on Sep 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Why would I search for what you wish to rank for with your site..;-)

Btw...French search for "création site web" ..no-one here calls it the "internet"..

Knowing that sort of thing is the difference between being number 1 on page 1 for a term on French search ..and being on page 2 or even further back ..

It is not enough to think that one speaks French ..one must speak the French that the French who live in France speak ..took me the last 21 years living here and running businesses and having a French wife and 18 year old French born son to get that.

I run sites on US and UK servers ( .coms, .nets, .orgs , infos etc )..with French language content ..and also the same mix on French servers..the ones that do best are always the .frs in French hosted in France..

But then you have to be here to get the .fr TLD ..and also to know what is really the case..."sur le terrain" ..

I don't make websites for others ..so when posting here ..I'm not "touting for business" ..never have ..never will..

2 ieme Btw.."création site internet" gets you over 20 million results on G..with at least 80% of those ( lot of non French based "quasi-Francophone" ) sites in there along with some French based ones covering their "bets" ) not realising that French don't call it "l'internet" ..mais "le web"..

So a small to medium size French business owner will be looking for "création site web" if that is what they want a quote for..and that gets only 6,500,000 results at the time of writing ..

But that is the phrase you want to be at the top of page one on French SERPS as searched from France for* ..

"Trophy" KW terms that no-one is really searching for but which have high result numbers on SERPS ..are easy to get ..what anyone wants are those which people and potential clients in the target market and demographic are actually searching for ..and which thus convert into more than 2 or 3 clients..or orders.

Oh ..and French are very very "hesitant" about doing business with any site that isn't on a .fr and doesn't have at least a French based email domain or street address ..or French PO Box code..

Our prime time TV and other media and websites are constantly hammering home the "beware of non French "scam" websites" message..unjustly so in no doubt many cases ..but that is what is actually the case ..and the reality .."sur le terrain".

*HTH :)

[edited by: Leosghost at 10:43 pm (utc) on Sep 3, 2011]


 10:39 pm on Sep 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

I just sent you a pm, but as I told you in it, i'm not touting for business, i offered to help Gmorgan and gave him some hints which could be useful imo. Nothing to do with business.


 11:18 pm on Sep 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm not touting for business, i offered to help Gmorgan and gave him some hints which could be useful imo. Nothing to do with business.

Si c'est le cas, tant mieux ;-) ..
et donc bienvenue à WebmasterWorld JHN_Design ;-)

*If that is the case, fine
and so welcome to WebmasterWorld ..

For the Anglophones..and maybe Francophones here ? "word for word" translations* don't "work" in any languages.. ( as I have hammered on about here for years ) ..but as JHN is French..( and even though English is the language for use here as we are from all over the world .. I'm Irish )..a welcome in French ( given the subject of the thread ) seems appropriate IMO ..


 11:47 pm on Sep 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks, I didn't know the Irish warm welcome, now I know it ;-)

I have other results than yours for "création site web" and "création site internet" in adwords, but it's almost out of the topic.

I do agree with you, french business may be reluctant to sign a contract with a company not based in France but as my mother buys now her shoes in china on internet, things are changing.

Maybe Gmorgan can tell us more about his client and his business,we will be able to give him a more accurate advice.


 5:06 am on Sep 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

welcome to WebmasterWorld, JHN_Design!

at almost 3 years old this is still one of the better posts i have seen on international geotargeting - Making Geotargeted Content Findable For the Right Searchers:
http://www.ninebyblue.com/making-geotargeted-content-findable-for-the-right-searchers/ [ninebyblue.com]

1. Having each page of the site translated into a local language
2. Having those pages checked by someone in the country for any localisation issues (i.e. quirky words/phrases that aren't used or may cause offense)

you would do best to use a language-fluent, in-country, subject-matter-expert to rewrite your content and in some case that will be the only way to get it "right".


 10:43 am on Sep 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

thanks for the link, there are some great tips in this article.
Just to mention as well that Google doesn't use the lang tag to determine the language. moreover, if a website with a .com TLD is hosted in an English speaking country, Google assumes that the index page in the root domain is in English.


 11:41 am on Sep 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks, all. Very interesting discussions. It looks like doing this the right way could be a large and time consuming task.

I am going to send a link to this thread to the client and then call them up to talk over this one further.


 7:01 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)


I too disagree with some of that. Not sure if some of your information is out of date but last year i picked up a few dropped fr domains with lws and there was none of the requirements you mention.

I'm not french , don't have a french business etc and i had no problem buying fr domains and infact i just renewed them last week...

I do target france with my website. It's an .org hosted in the US and it does perfectly well. In fact it does so well it's now getting far more french visitors than english which is probably because the site is about france. (main keyword targeted shows 6,250,000 results and brings in between 1000-2000 visitors a day from google so not an incompetitive niche)

You are correct in that the french are very particular about their language :) Being scottish my written french is laughably bad but it has never held me back. I've over 12,000 french advertisers who have given up complaining about it and just accept i'm not perfect and are happy for the business i send them but for sure i'd make more money if i could find the time / inclination to perfect my french :)

This is an interesting thread for me as I'm just adding 7 other languages. I've decided that different domains and servers is a no no for me due to the complexity / expense etc so i'll just use a language folder /german/ etc and specify it in GWT

I think the most important thing is to link the languages well so that people can switch between languages easily. I personally hate it when i click to switch language on a site and end up at the homepage .....


 8:20 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

If the afnic decides to "control" your domains you will lose them immediately ..no appeal..( unless you "qualify" don't base your business upon dot fr domains ) ..the conditions apply still..( read the afnic website )..very few registrars outside of France propose dot frs because of this ...Gandi teamed up with a US company and now offer them ( the restrictions still apply ) ..Godaddy also offer dot frs ..new domains only ( same afnic rules apply ) ..disagree all you want ;-) the afnic decide who can legally hold dot frs..

First time they ( the afnic ) check ..or someone complains about your domain(s) to them ..if you don't fulfill the conditions ( which apparently you don't )..you will lose them..no appeal..

My information is very up to date..I live in France , have French sites ..dot frs ..French registered businesses ( and non French registered businesses , and dot coms nets , orgs etc ) ..and I'm fluent..and can read the applicable current laws in French..


Article 5. Eligibilité du titulaire d'un nom de domaine

Un titulaire de nom de domaine, est une personne physique ou morale qui répond aux exigences et critères d’éligibilité propres aux catégories de domaine.

Sont éligibles à l’enregistrement d’un nom de domaine les personnes physiques ou morales suivantes :
5.1 Personnes morales

Les personnes morales dont le siège social ou l’adresse d’un établissement est situé en France et qui sont identifiables au travers des bases de données électroniques dont Infogreffe (et ses dérivés), le RNCS, le répertoire SIRENE, RefAsso et le BODACC.
Les institutions et services de l'État, les collectivités territoriales ainsi que leurs établissements.
5.2 Titulaires de marque

Les personnes physiques majeures ou personnes morales qui sont titulaires d'une marque déposée auprès de l'Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle ou titulaire d'une marque communautaire ou internationale enregistrée visant expressément le territoire français, identifiables au travers de bases de données électroniques dédiées aux marques.
5.3 Personnes physiques

Les personnes physiques majeures ayant une adresse en France.

this is the current French law..last amended in 2009

Propositions have been made to widen these criteria in Dec 2011 ..their acceptance is as yet unconfirmed in spite of the afnic site mentioning them . [afnic.fr...] ..they may well not be accepted as there is heavy lobbying by French Business against any changes...we will have to "wait and see" :)

I also draw your attention to articles 4 , 6, 7 etc ..re admin contacts must have French addresses ..

the info at this link is also relevant ..

the afnic is well behind in translating it's texts to languages other than French..;-) I did try to find translation in English of current French Laws relating to domain names ..the afnic claims to have pages translated ..and then leads one to French pages only ..


 9:08 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

5.3 Personnes physiques

Les personnes physiques majeures ayant une adresse en France.

Luckily I have a friends address in france which i use when I register my fr domains....

Unless I misunderstand that solves the problem...


 9:33 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

It does :) ..It is what a lot of people do ( I do this for friends too via my PO boxes here ) ..however it means that the names belong to the person whose name and address you use ..not you.( it also makes them liable under French law for what you do with the site(s)or the site does, hosts , content etc ..no pics of Carla et al on the beach ;-) ..there have been some famous very heavy fines imposed for breaches of privacy here by French sites..

If the proposed changes happen ( and are passed into French law ) ..they will only "expand" the registration of dot frs to EU citizens as regards private individuals..or companies registered within the EU.

Strictly speaking to conform under present and proposed law..the owner of the domain must publish on the domain in the contact area their name and address ..PO Box in France ..( but to get a French PO Box ..you need to be a registered French Business ) will do ..and if they are a business their registration number ..SIRET or SIREN etc...not doing so renders one liable to large fines ..that can be retro-actively applied...

Germany is even more fraught with peril and restrictions ,for non Germans ..Huskypup knows more on the detail of the German domain registration ( for non Germans ) situation than I do ..


 11:35 pm on Oct 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Btw..this part
5.2 Titulaires de marque

Les personnes physiques majeures ou personnes morales qui sont titulaires d'une marque déposée auprès de l'Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle ou titulaire d'une marque communautaire ou internationale enregistrée visant expressément le territoire français, identifiables au travers de bases de données électroniques dédiées aux marques.

Basically means there is another category of individuals or companies who can, at present own dot frs ..Those who own French registered trademarks, or EU registered trademarks, or Internationally registered trademarks ( think Coke TM etc ) which are specifically aimed at France ..and which can be found in the relevant electronic trademarks registries and or databases.

Registering trademarks in France is normally done via specialised lawyers ( as elsewhere )..and is thus expensive and complex..French registered businesses and citizens can do their own ( less expensive ..but very complex ..nothing is as complex as French legalese ;-)) ..not for the faint hearted or the non totally fluent in French legalese ..

I have some..self registered..;-)

Even the French usually use trademark lawyers..there are easier and cheaper ways,( mentioned above ) to qualify to register a dot fr.

If the law changes..I'll revisit this thread and post a translation ( wait for the afnic to translate things, and we'd all be as grey bearded as me ;-) of the salient parts..as they affect domain registrations.

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