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How best to handle diverse international content on one site?



1:05 am on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Quick question I was hoping someone had advice on. We have lots of text content on our site. It's 98% in English, but it's large enough that 2% that's international isn't anything to sneeze at.

It seems to me it would make a lot of sense to separate out the international content into its own section, if for nothing else to make it easier to explore for users.

So, the question is if setting up subdomains or directory structures dedicated to languages will get me in hot-water, with the big worry being that I don't want to lose any "juice" for my primary audience, North America, by supporting these other languages...

For example, let's say I set up:


Do you believe this could cause a penalty in Google *with respect to it thinking this is now no longer a USA/English site*... which could affect our North American traffic. If one of those algorithmic 400 indicators is language consistency, I don't want to risk losing US traffic!

And yes, I know that the *optimal* way to chase international would of course be to register country-specific TLDs for each language, then get hosting in each country, etc. I don't think that's a scalable solution for me right now, not to mention the headache of managing multiple data centers, security, building a brand new website from scratch etc., so I'm trying to see if there's a happy middle ground.

Thanks for any help.


7:26 am on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

In my sites I do set a folder if I have country specific info like pricing.

Local US traffic is based on other factors.


10:28 am on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Do you believe this could cause a penalty in Google *with respect to it thinking this is now no longer a USA/English site*... which could affect our North American traffic.

I don't see why it should. All my main sites, whether created on .com, TLD or ccTLD are structured precisely this way:


Yes, I know I've put an underscore, old habits die hard:-)

Using this method I can add or remove a country at will (!) and the same applies to its widgets should anything drastically change.


5:57 pm on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hey Husky, have you found traffic to your /country/ pages is United States traffic using a foreign language to search, -OR- traffic from the native country you're targeting. In other words, is your /mexico directory getting Google traffic from Mexicans in the US, or from Mexico?


6:26 pm on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I have one site that uses directories for different languages, and significant traffic is coming from both those types of visitors. It works out rather nicely because German pages are getting traffic from Google.com as well as from Google Germany and Google Austria. And it's a mix of IPs from the country itself or native speakers of the language in some other country.

The same thing applies to French and Spanish, where we see traffic from Canada and France, or Spain and all over Latin America. These visits show a mix of access via both google.com and the country Google.

So the directory solution has worked out well for that site. We include the appropriate language in the header for pages in each directory, but we don't do any other kind of geo-targeting.


6:43 pm on Jun 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

^ ^ ^ Thanks tedster, saved me writing similar findings:-)

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