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Meta name="Language": important?

What do national and international SEs do with this meta?

     
2:03 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

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On some dicussions here in WMW lately it was suggested that only keywords, description and title metas are recommended to use. Apart from the question if robots "index" and "follow" are useful I am wondering if
Meta name="Language"
is important for non-englisch sites.
National SEs: Do they need this meta for accepting the site? Isnt the national domain enough to legitimate a site?
International SEs: Does it make any difference to them? Do they need this meta to "understand" what your site is about; to establish the themeing of a site?
In short: What is this meta for and do you need it?
Any thoughts welcome!
2:38 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

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I remember reading on Acoon's add url page a year ago that they recommended the use of the Language meta tag, stating that it was used by many other German search engines. But that has since been removed and quite frankly, I am not at all sure that any search engines use the tag any more. Instead, I believe that at least the better engines (including all international ones) rely on automatic language recognition software, of which there is a lot around nowadays.

Still, the Language meta tag can't hurt. There could be some engines out there, that actually support this tag. The correct syntax is <META HTTP-EQUIV="LANGUAGE" CONTENT="de"> where "de" stands for German. (Don't ask me what the abbreviation is for other languages - I have no idea.)

4:40 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

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If I remember right, it should be:
<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="de">
(from HTTP 1.0 und RFC1766, where you also can read, how to shorten)
5:16 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

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<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
<meta name="LANGUAGE" content="Deutsch, DE">
Those are the two metas as I have always used them. They are proposed by Suchfibel.de, I think. If you check out meta tag advices and online metatag generators, you are always adviced to use a whole lot of metas, like author, page-topic, publisher, copyright, revisit-after etc. But some experienced people at these forums seem to agree, that you shouldnt use other than KW, description and title. So lately I started stripping my headers drastically. Only wondered about this language thing.
oLeon, from your answer I guess, that you do not use the language meta either, do you?

wisser

8:48 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

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The language tag is for example used by fireball but only when the automatic language detection can't decide what language you use. So if you have a German page with a lot of English words in it you should use it, but if there is really only one language used, skip the tag.
10:49 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Years ago I didn't use the tag until I got some rather messed up titles and descriptions on some international engines.
I've used the tag since and in most cases I'm ok - still, some engines' SERP's still can look fuzzy. It has taugt me always to check your code and use the right " " etc. and not "& oslash;".

>I believe that at least the better engines (including all international ones) rely >on automatic language recognition software, of which there is a lot around >nowadays.

I agree. Maybe the engines are smarter now :)

5:56 pm on Mar 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

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"It has taugt me always to check your code
and use the right " " etc. and not "& oslash;"."
Oops, seems Ive missed something here: I always understood that using those html equivalents was a must to make sure your text is displayed properly in all browsers in all languages?
What about people from other languages like polish, russian etc - what is your experience with language recognition?
Also i would like to start a discussion on themeing, linkpop and different languages.
Example: You do a site on donkeys. Your site is in german, so you have something like www.esel(=german for donkey)-info.de. Which is listed in Yahoo, ODP and so forth. Now there are some sites in englisch and some in spanisch, which are considered beeing authoritative on donkeys. If you change links with these sites, how does it contribute to the themeing of your site? Do Google, Fast, AV understand that Esel are donkeys are whatever-the-spanish-word-for-donkeys-is?
11:33 am on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

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It's an interesting obstacle. I think the best way would be to find other german donkey sites and make them like to you with "esel".

I has been mentioned here that if you have a page in both english and german the engines could be confused wether the page is in german or enlish. As Renke said they often rely on sofisticated automatic language recognition software, but if the page is too dilluted with different languages is can be messed up and maybe you don't receive the link pop you actually deserve.

If ex. Google can tell that a site in german is relevant for esel that it's also relevant for donkey - I really don't know.
I always try to build linkpop with other sites in the same language.

Maybe some of the other europeans can help out here?

Are the engines able to tell theming across languages. Is a site with an "esel" theme also relevant for "donkey"?

12:14 pm on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Hi Rumbas
"I always try to build linkpop with other sites in the same language." Okay, but exchanging links with sites in other languages is appealing , because you get the linkpop without helping competitors in your own language. You dont help other "esel"-sites. Instead you have links to donkey-sites, which will not attract your users that much, but will count in the SEs, and there is a good chance, that an english speaking site on donkeys is seen as more authoritative by Google, Fast, AV anyway. Of course this idea only works out, if the SEs recognize "esel" beeing the same theme as donkeys.
"If ex. Google can tell that a site in german is relevant for esel that it's also relevant for donkey - I really don't know."
ODP as one important factor in this should recognize this. If you list "www.esel-info.de" (I must remember to check if this domain exists...) in world/german/animals/whatever in ODP, than they have a similar general category. But this is because thinking humans are doing it, not mindless spiders.
Building linkpop with other sites in the same language anyhow is a tricky thing for languages spoken only by a few people, like for example danish, norwegian and a lot of other european languages. Hey you Scandinavians, folks from Portugal, Greeks, Easteuropeans: What is your experience with linking to sites in other languages?

wisser

2:11 pm on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Hi,
there is no engine out there with builtin translation. Also it seems to be very easy when looking at donkey <-> esel, translating is *very* complicated. Ans remeber engines like Google or Altavista support nearly 30 languages.
There is no known algorithm on how to obtain a meaningful translation. Try babelfish and you will see what I am talking about.
2:47 pm on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Wisser
So you suggest that a link from an english donkey-site to a german "esel"-site would not count more for the "esel"-sites linkpop than a link from an english widget-site?
Im not concerned with users here, only with improvement of ranking via linkpop in SEs. So the question is: do SEs have a mechanism to etablish themeing of a site by links in different languages?
In directories, like explained with ODP, there are the categories, that enable them to recognize that words -thus sites- from different languages belong together.
Maybe some insider on how Google works can help out here
3:00 pm on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

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rencke, what do you think: should this topic perhaps be moved to the "Reciprocal Links" Forum? After all its a question concerning not just the europeans, but all non-english sites looking for linkpop?
3:11 pm on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

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This is an extremely interesting and important question that you have posted, heini. I am no expert on how themeing works, but my instinct about this is the same as Rumba's and Wisser's i.e. that search engines will not realize that a theme about esels is the same as a donkey theme. I am going to alert some learned friends and see if I can make them add something to this.

As to multilingual sites, I always recommend my customers to split them up into single language sites registering domain names in the language e.g. esel.com/esel.de, donkey.com/donkey.co.uk, burro.com/burro.es etc.Then just provide links on each site to the other languages. It also makes automated submission and rank checking a lot easier to handle.

5:19 pm on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Added: This discussion [webmasterworld.com], mentions link text as a factor in determining theme. Suppose that the link text on a site in English says "German site about donkeys" and points to www.esel.de. If there is a sufficient number of those, then esel.de might well be deemed to be relevant to the donkey theme. A quick and easy way to test this is by using the Web Page Theme Inspector [searchengineworld.com] at Search Engine World.

About moving to reciprocal links. As I see it, it is more about possible language problems in relation to themes, than about link pop per se. And language issues are generally only discussed here and in the Asia forum.

6:54 pm on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Thanks rencke
for reminding me of the thread: its a very interesting dicussion going on there. And its not the only place here where the relationship between links and themeing is discussed: its an important issue.
People here seem to agree, that linktext, general theme of linkpartners sites, and wether that site is considered "authoritative" make up for the weight a link carries.
There is another dicussion gong on where its suggested, that this not only is true for inbound links, but for outgoing links too.
Ive tried the Themes inspector, had thought about it before, but if I get it right, it does not tell you, if SEs understand, that "esel" belong to donkeys. What it does tell you is if there are incoming links that connect your site with donkeys.
But if you do a google-search for "Esel", it still is unclear, if those links with donkeys help you to get a better ranking in the "esel"-search. The donkey links should work that way, that your site pops up in a donkey-search, even if the word donkey doesnt appear on your "esel"-site. Which is a nice effect, but riding high on the "esel" SERP via themeing established by links is much more important.
So how do engines like Google and Fast establish themes anyway?
"Suppose that the link text on a site in English says "German site about donkeys" and points to www.esel.de. If there is a sufficient number of those, then esel.de might well be deemed to be relevant to the donkey theme."
This seems to suggest, that the engines are like "learning", like building databases of related words and terms, grouping them maybe cluster-like to themes. So there would be a donkey-theme and the engines would know which englisch terms are related t this theme, and would by picking up links eventually learn that donkeys belong to "esel" and to burro. Then a donkey link would contribute to the themeing of your "esel"-site.
Vague theory or fact?
BTW, Im not only asking out of a general interest. Im doing a lot of linking with englisch speaking sites, that contentwise are related and that are great and very well established sites in our field. And I like the idea that those links support my themeing.
7:42 pm on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

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>Vague theory or fact?

A pretty good theory it seems. There have been more than one discussion at WmW about sites turning up in Google for a keyword that exists nowhere on the site. Nowhere! Closer examination of the Google cache has shown that the page has not even been indexed, but is listed - and listed high - simply on the basis of the link text at other sites. I have seen this with my own eyes - hard as though it was to believe them. But only Google works that way. As to Fast, we'll have to get NFFC in here.

As to outgoing links: yes I have heard that too and there are people claiming that linking to very popular sites can be a major factor. Even internal links are claimed to be important.

8:22 am on Mar 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

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If the page is not in english, use the always use the language meta tag. As mentione in the other replies, some SE's can figure it out based on page content, but they have trouble with the near english languages. The meta tag helps a great deal if you don't have much content on the page.
11:07 am on Mar 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Thank you Brett,
when summing up all the kind responses I think I will stick to the language tag. Cant hurt much.
Im sorry if I messed up this discussion a bit by switching to a new topic, but Im still concerned with this matter of linking and themeing across language barriers. I wonder if I should try and write to google, or maybe even better, to fast (europeans after all) and ask them if and how they establish themes across language barriers.

wisser

8:33 am on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Hi,
searchengines don't translate. Machine translation simply doesn't work. What thes really do is to find out the important words on your pages.
So if your esel site mentions donkey often enough it will be important for a search of esel. But google will apply this scheme on a lot of sites thought to be important for esel. If they all mention donkey it must be important for esel. If now all (at least a lot) donkey sites mention esel, easel sites will be important for donkey sites.
At the end the links will count to your link pop.
But as I see it, you will need links esel <-> donkey on more than just one site, but on a lot of authorative sites.
11:57 am on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Thank you Wisser
The way you describe it points to the same logic as rencke has put it. So I will study this whole concept of themeing some more.
As to linking to englisch speaking sites it seems that surely it cant hurt. But contributing to the themeing of ones site is probably more easily achieved by targeted linking with sites in ones own language.
To establish a theme across language barriers so that Google will recognise it as theme will take time and a lot of effort.
Still, since Google and others are using ODP results: if there is a catogory matching between the general section and a regional section could this not trigger some knowledge in the SEs using those results as to keywords from different languages belonging to the same theme?
Still wondering...

wisser

8:18 am on Mar 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

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I don't believe that Google pay special attention to ODP or Yahoo. They use them as starting points for their crawlers.
What gives special meaning to ODP or Yahoo are the many links that point to them and the huge number of links that point out. This makes them an information hub and Google recognizes that.
That said, I don't belive Google has a special ODP crawler that knows about the "other language" links in ODP or "same category in Yahoo XXX" links. The "normal" algorithm will boost any directory or Hotlist, but specially the big ones.
11:39 am on Mar 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Wisser
Im afraid you are right about this. There is a very interesting discussion started by Marcia about the way engines perform the grouping of related terms going on in [webmasterworld.com ]. Maybe this wil clarify the basics some more.