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Formerly, each page would contain a link to it's corresponding translation - a useful navigational link to the user. However, after just over a year much of the site had gone supplemental.
I have now removed these links, replacing them with new links that point to the homepage of each language version.
Since doing this, the pages that were supplemental have started to re-appear in the results and lose their supplemental status.
I really think that Google is creating a serious problem here. I have actally been forced to make my website worse for my users to satisfy the Google index, which is surely the opposite of what they should encourage.
[edited by: tedster at 8:42 pm (utc) on Dec. 6, 2006]
[edit reason] use example.com [/edit]
I also recently started to wonder if part of the problem was that englishpage1.html and frenchpage1.html both had the same outgoing links, and both shared the same image files.
My pages each have a unique photo and 1 or 2 unique links, as well as the standard nav and site graphics. After adding the translated version I'd have 2 pages with the same unique link/photo fingerprint, but in a with different language. Doesn't sound like it should be a problem, but who knows?
As far as usability for users, I've been tweaking a bit, but I must say it's tempting to drop the alternate language pages - MSN and Yahoo like them though...
I think Google should clarify what we should be doing to avoid duplicate content penalties for localised pages.
If they do decide to fix/change this, then perhaps they could let us know, so that I can change my links back to how they were before.