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Sites in US, UK, and Germany with same/similar content

     
4:49 pm on Aug 24, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I have built a site, on WordPress, for the US market. I am now building two more sites, both on WordPress, one for the UK and one for Germany.

The UK website will have almost identical text to that of the US site. The English will be changed to UK style instead of US style, and references to US governing agencies will be omitted/replaced with the UK equivalent.

The German site will have both English and German on it. The English text will be more similar to that of the UK (again, UK style English instead of US) and then the German translation of that English.

In terms of duplicate content, what is the best way to go about the UK and German page? Should I use rel canonical tags on the UK and German sites, pointing to the US site as the original. And then at the same time in Google Search Console specify the regions for the sites?

Is there a different/better way?

If any other information is needed please feel free to ask, and if this thread is in the wrong place feel free to move it.

Thank you.

Jeremy
3:47 am on Aug 26, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Likely:
<link rel=alternate hreflang=lang-code href=http://us-english-example.com/the-url-here>
<link rel=alternate hreflang=lang-code href=http://uk-english-example.com/the-url-here>
<link rel=alternate hreflang=lang-code href=http://german-example.com/the-url-here>
In the <head></head> of the page(s)

Source: [support.google.com...]

BTW: Welcome to WebmasterWorld!
12:49 pm on Aug 26, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Is there a recommendation or opinions on whether putting your href tags in the HTML or in the XML Sitemaps is better? Managing them manually in HTML for a site that grows to 20+ languages/locations could be difficult so I'm thinking of doing this with XML sitemaps but not sure if that's ideal.
1:01 pm on Aug 26, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If one has that many sites, and does not have a central method of managing them then it might be a problem, but do cross the t and dot the i, ie. put in both. One cannot depend on any search engine, not even the mighty google, to figure it out IN TIME and/or CORRECTLY.

Or you can think belt and suspenders. Last thing you want is the pants to fall off your website.

And invest in a good editor that will do the necessary search and replace across files and folders. Changes like this should not be a monumental task.
1:10 pm on Aug 26, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Thanks, tangor. We do have a CMS in place but from what I've heard there isn't a way to set up the rules to dynamically change the HTML on every country/language version of the site when you add new pages.
1:18 pm on Aug 26, 2015 (gmt 0)

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You got me there... I don't have many multi-language sites so, head bowed. I can't answer your specific as I have two sites, in two different languages that have the same metas and heads IN ENGLISH which I can manage from a single editor. Are we talking about something different?

It is okay to mention your CMS, perhaps that might offer a clue?
1:32 pm on Aug 26, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Adobe's CMS. With one our two sites we could manually do it but planning to go global with maaaaany sites, to do it manually one would need a full time resource just to ensure the href tags are in sync.
2:00 pm on Aug 26, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi, and thanks for the response TheMadScientist. But I am still a little bit confused, or maybe I didn't give all the information properly. Would I put the href tags in each website?

These will be 3 separate websites, however the bulk of their text will be the same
.com with only English (let's call this the original text)
.co.uk with 80% of the same English as the .com, however changed to UK Englsih (like center to centre)
.de will be the only site with 2 languages, English (similar to the UK English) and German (translation of the UK English that is also on the .com site)

on the co.uk and .de, shouldn't those similar pages be referenced (canonical tag?) to the .com site?

There will be in the future Spanish added to the .com site as well.
3:13 pm on Aug 26, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Any reason why you don't have ONE domain and a "Select your Language" drop down to the different translations? As for US and UK versions of English... while very proper and good, I doubt that either country would be overtly offended if one or the other was chosen for both... as an American I am equally adept at reading UK, and I'm pretty sure those across the pond can read US just as easily. :)
4:11 pm on Aug 26, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Would I put the href tags in each website?

You actually only need it on one -- Once a page(s) is an alternate for another page they're all considered alternates for each other, so if you put the code on the main version it "makes the point" for all the translations.
6:32 pm on Aug 26, 2015 (gmt 0)

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from what I've heard there isn't a way to set up the rules to dynamically change the HTML

Where there's a will there's a plugin. Look into it; I'd be very surprised to learn you're the first person facing this problem.

Note too that "dynamically change the HTML" is a bit misleading, because the essence of a CMS is that the HTML is always dynamically generated: every time a user requests a page, it's built from scratch. So any change should take effect more-or-less instantly.
9:51 am on Aug 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Would I put the href tags in each website?
You actually only need it on one -- Once a page(s) is an alternate for another page they're all considered alternates for each other,


I am not sure on the above - at least it does not work this way with the alternate href tag for two pages within the same website.
I have a page on a website that has href tag pointing to another page, but that another page does not have href pointing back. For this I got the message in WMT that this particular href will be disregarded as there is no return tag.

I am not sure if this happens when you have alternate on two sites rather than two pages within the same site.
10:17 am on Aug 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Interesting -- They're definitely disregarding the standard there then.

This relationship is transitive that is, if a document links to two other documents with the link type "alternate", then, in addition to implying that those documents are alternative representations of the first document, it is also implying that those two documents are alternative representations of each other.

http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/links.html#rel-alternate

I almost wonder if that's a WMT "thing" and "not quite reality", because it doesn't seem like most people would know to set it via server header for a .txt or .pdf or other non-html file type with alternate versions of a document, but it doesn't seem like Google would just disregard it either -- They may though. Just seems a bit odd to me for them to.

[edited by: TheMadScientist at 10:25 am (utc) on Aug 27, 2015]

10:20 am on Aug 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Interesting -- They're definitely disregarding the standard there then.

It would not be the first time!
10:26 am on Aug 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It would not be the first time!

Very true -- They used to be way better about not "just throwing the standard out" than they've gotten over the years.
10:30 am on Aug 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If you have multiple language versions of a URL, each language page must identify all language versions, including itself. For example, if your site provides content in French, English, and Spanish, the Spanish version must include a rel="alternate" hreflang="x" link for itself in addition to links to the French and English versions. Similarly, the English and French versions must each include the same references to the French, English, and Spanish versions.

[support.google.com...]

Yup, they do, at least for language type.
10:30 am on Aug 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@TMS, thanks for finding this quotation!

on the co.uk and .de, shouldn't those similar pages be referenced (canonical tag?) to the .com site?

Welcome to WebmasterWorld, JeremySDMF!

Do not use rel canonical tag. Use rel=alternate hreflang as others suggested. In this way the appropriate site will hopefully rank in appropriate country (whereas if you use canonical, the UK and DE site will disappear from SERPs).

If the US site is not just for US visitors, but also for international visitors, then I would use x-default on this site.
On UK site use en-gb.
On DE site use de (for german language, covers Germany, Austria, Switzerland etc.) or de-de if the focus is solely on Germany.

Here is some more info:

Use hreflang for language and regional URLs
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/189077 [support.google.com]

Introducing "x-default hreflang" for international landing pages
http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/x-default-hreflang-for-international-pages.html [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk]
12:21 pm on Aug 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@TMS, thanks for finding this quotation!

Sure thing -- Had to go find out for sure ;)