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Confused About Hreflang & International SEO

     
5:22 pm on Dec 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hey Everyone,

Can you give me some advice on this topic. Right now we are working hard to offer shipping/customs information to our English site. We used to use GlobalShopEx and now are shipping everything direct from our warehouse.

Our goal is to increase sales into Brazil. There are a few things we are doing:

1) We will have the option for a person to change the currency on our US site.
- I am guessing nothing needs to be done about this from and SEO standpoint

2) We are translating our US site versions of our shipping.html page (only the shipping pages). So www.example.com/brazilshipping/ would be translated for www.example.com/br/brazilshipping. Do I need to create an hreflang tag for this page showing the alternate? Anything else I need to do?

3) I will be creating some pages in portuguese on our US site in hopes of ranking them well in Brazil. Anything I need to do to these pages to help pushing positioning in Brazil? Telling Google these pages are more for Brazil searchers?

4) We are thinking about having an automated translation dropdown option available on the site. Machine translated. If I did this, should we create a new url structure like www.example.com/br/? And would I need to use the hreflang tag here as well?

5) Lastly, we will be creating a brand new domain called www.example.com.br. It will have manually translated pages of our English site (not done by machine). Do I need to do something like this on that domain and vice versa on the English domain?

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://www.example.com/">
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="br" href="http://www.example.com.br/">

Thank for you any help you can provide! I know I am asking a lot of questions!
8:49 pm on Dec 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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hreflang="br"

Whoops! Last I checked, there is no Brazilian language. You mean "pt-br".
8:51 pm on Dec 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Others here may have personal experiences with this that may offer better insight; to start you can read how Google treats the usage and their suggested uses here: [support.google.com...]
8:53 pm on Dec 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Yep...watched that video and was looking for advice on more exact situations. The video doesn't talk about specific pages within a site, more about the entire site being translated.

And what are people's thoughts on subfolder vs new cctld? I have read the pros/cons on both and am now aiming towards the subfolder route for Brazil...possibly a new cctld for other countries where Google/Bing are not big players.
8:53 pm on Dec 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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You're right, lucy24, Brazilian isn't a language, the people speak Brazilian flavored Portuguese. Good catch.
8:56 pm on Dec 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for that...I basically wanting to target Brazil, not just Portuguese. My mistake!
11:27 pm on Dec 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Do I need to do something like this on that domain and vice versa on the English domain?

If you run parallel sites, it can't hurt. And yes, "alternate" is one of the rare cases where a link should always include the present page alongside any alternatives.

<off-topic>
I got curious and looked it up. The two-letter language code "br" means Breton.* That would really confuse the search engines!


* Computers will probably say "br-fr" to distinguish it from all the other places one might speak Breton.
</ot>
11:42 pm on Dec 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If you target is Brazil and you (long term) do not care about Portuguese language in other Portuguese-speaking countries and your domain is gTLD, then you may even consider geo-targeting the folder to Brazil.

If you do want to use hreflang regardless, and your setup is: "All pages are in English, subset of pages (shipping) are in English and Portuguese", then you can set up hreflang so that on English pages targets language only, and if the English page has the equivalent page in Portuguese, then hreflang would point to a combination of country and language.

For example:

a) English page which has no Portuguese equivalent would have one hreflang pointing to itself:
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://example.com/page-url-1" />

b) English page which has the equivalent Portuguese page where you are targetting Brazil would have two hreflang, one for English page pointing to itself and the other pointing to URL of the page translated to Portuguese, with the locale set to Brasil:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://example.com/page-url-2" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="pt-br" href="http://example.com/pt/pagina-url-2" />

c) Portuguese page (which, I understand, always has the equivalent English page) would have two hreflang, one for Portuguese page pointing to itself and the other pointing to URL of the English page:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="pt-br" href="http://example.com/pt/pagina-url-2" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://example.com/page-url-2" />

<added>

To try to answer your questions one by one:

1) No issues with the currency change.

2) As I already wrote above

3) You can geotarget. As I said, considering you are translating little by little, I would go for folders and geotarget the folder to Brasil

4) I would avoid automatic translation. Google will not rank it and visitors would not like it if you serve it like a separate URL you think it is worthy of visitors. What you could do is have a dropdown Google Translate widget as an aid to visitor until you slowly translate everything, but this will translate under the same URL and the visitor would pretty much know what to expect from Google Translate. It would really be there only to save the visitor to cut/paste URL into Google Translate.

5) I am not sure if I understand what you are doing - are you saying that you will move all English content from example.com to example.com.br, so that you would have example.com all in English and example.com.br having the same English pages as well as Portuguese pages where translated ?

I would not do this. Personally, if you are translating little by little then I would go for folders. I certainly would not copy the content of English pages on .br domain. What you could do if you really want to use .br domain is to switch to .com site when English language is selected. On English site I would have "Portuguese" language selectable to take me to .br site for Portuguese pages.

If you do copy English pages to .br site, I would either block them in robots or noindex them or use rel=canonical to point to the same page on .com site. In this case the hreflang on Portugese language pages that are on .br domain should point to the equivalent English page on .com domain.

</added>
6:13 pm on Dec 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the reply aakk9999! I will go ahead with your recommendations. The last one is confusing. I have been debating whether to do a new cctld for Brazil or just use a subfolder.

I have read about the pros and cons of each. Because Brazil is heavily Google/Bing, I think it makes more sense to do a subfolder (with all the tools available to geotarget). In other countries like Russia, I think it would be best to do a new ccTLD since they don't use Google/Bing like we do.

Make sense? Do you agree?
6:14 pm on Dec 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Also, if I am going to only have about 10 pages that are going to be in Portuguese on the English site (non-brazil subfolder), do I really need to have <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://example.com/page-url-1" /> on every other page where there is no equivalent page in portuguse?
6:51 pm on Dec 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In other countries like Russia, I think it would be best to do a new ccTLD since they don't use Google/Bing like we do.

There are also the mechanics of searching to think about. If you've got a brand name, it will generally be the same in any language that uses Roman script. (Plenty of exceptions, of course, but I mean in cases where you don't intentionally select different names for different countries.) If you're in a country using a different script such as Cyrillic, will your brand name use Roman or the local script?

Got a nebulous idea that "alternate" links are more likely to be interpreted the way you want if both are on the same host/domain. And, of course, it saves the bother of setting up additional wmt accounts.