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My basic questions are: Do we have to get ourdomain.de, ourdomain.nl domains to have higher visibility internationally or is it sufficent to have ourdomain.com/de/... Is it even possible to get foreign domains without having a physical presence in those countries?
Are auto translations any good (babelfish, etc.) or should we spend the money on human translators?
I have to come up with a foreign markets strategy for my company and website and not sure which ways to go. I'm looking for good UP-TO-DATE posts that someone might be able to direct me to. Thanks for your help.
No, you would definitly be better off using local domiains (ccTLD's)
>Are auto translations any good
No, they suck. Human translation is the ONLY way to go. In fact using local people is the best solution all around. Local people would know about cultural differences and small differences in the use of the languages etc.
I would recommend żou to have a look at the Euro library [webmasterworld.com] as we have convered a lot of the issues you ask about :)
To rank well when that option is specified, you definitely need local hosting (but not necessarily a local ccTld, although it is probably preferable for image/marketing purposes)