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I would imagine that this would be true as long as the domain remains the same, i.e the French site is www.thesite.com/french/ as opposed to www.thesite.fr.
Does anybody have some knowledge of the site ranking following localization?
I would say it won't auttomatically have the same page rank because it is a different URL and therefore a different page.
A spider doesn't understand that the two urls represent the same page in different languages so it will treat each one as an individual.
You need to try and replicate the inbound links to the english pages so that the french pages can gain link popularity and hence page rank etc.
When adding a brand new page in English, even if I have no links from external sites to that page, the rank will not stay at zero for long (I think!).
Does google care whether the inbound links are French for the French site? I would have thought so because of the relevance to the linked page.