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Canonical Tags and Localized URLS

9:44 pm on Apr 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Hi all, I had a search and couldn't find this topic answered elsewhere, if i have missed it please just link up the related thread below.

My problem is this, I have a site that has localized versions using I18n, as one is Canadian and one is US the content is nearly always identical however certain pages may differ, ie sales, product lines.

In the header I've included a canonical tag to specify the direct URL

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/brown-shoes/" />

when in reality they'll actually be viewing


Now I thought this was pretty much all I needed to do however one look in google shows me that both google.com and google.ca are indexing only the /en-US/ versions.

I've nosed around a bit in Google Webmaster Tools hoping to find something to help but havent thus far.

Has anyone ran into this issue before? Any recommendations on what to do next?

Thanks in advance
11:22 pm on Apr 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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No direct comment, other than the rel="canonical" element is taken by Google as a "strong hint", not a definitive instruction.

Various Google people have also hinted, on several occasions, at various scenarios where the rel="canonical" data might be ignored.
11:31 pm on Apr 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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You should be able to set a target on a per-directory basis in WMT, so you have some options. Here are a few I see being possible:

1.) Remove the canonical link element and set a target on the specific directories.

2.) Edit the canonical link element to point to the specific directories (EG /en-US/ is canonicalized to /en-US/ and /en-CA/ is canonicalized to /en-CA/) then set the target(s) for those directories in WMT.

3.) Leave the canonical element, noindex the /en-US/ and /en-CA/ directories, so they don't have the lang. directories as choices for the results.

My guess is there are more links to the /en-US/ page than the others, so they're seeing it as 'the most valuable' of the options. I would be careful before noindexing that page, and definitely test on a 'small' basis before 'just changing' everything.

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