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European webshop SEM issues

duplicate content and showing prices VAT incl.

5:09 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I guess this is a typical issue for all webshops active in the European Market. I would like to know how you guys solved / are going to solve these issues:
1)To be locally relevant in search and for the perception of our potential costumers we have TLD's for several countries. (domain name extensions per country)
-Is there a reason to work differently and if so, can you describe how to?
-Does anyone tried different approaches in this matter?

2)Working with different TLD's, gives us duplicate content e.g. Dutch version in Belgium (.be) and Dutch version for The Netherlands (.nl). Since Google (for European market the king of SE's) chooses in case of duplicate content ˇ§randomlyˇ¨ one of the two pages to rank, we cannot maximize the volume of natural traffic . We are rewriting the content for the most important pages, but since we have more than 50.000 products online, itˇ¦s impossible for us to rewrite all content.
-Will our action of rewriting content be enough to be seen as different?
-Is there a percentage of similarity in content that is acceptable?
-Do we need to lower the percentage of similarity of the code too?
-What with the 50.000 product detail pages? Do we use a canonical tag or a 'nofollow,noindex'-tag to avoid duplicate content?

3)We also face issues with showing prices. In some countries we have local presence and for this countries, we can charge local VAT. We use visitors IPˇ¦s to determine their country which allows us to show the appropriate price and currency.
-We are looking for a non-IP-based (since noet 100% reliable) solution to show the right price to the right visitor. Anyone suggestions on this?
-When Googlebot indexes and caches our pages, it is seen as an American visitor and prices appear in the cache in dollars. Even in local Google search engines (I mean Google sites with local extensions). Is there a 'non-black hat' solution to solve this?
-I did some research on this issue and found out:
A) some shops are giving the same and local price to everyone visiting their site (different prices in each TLD for the same product) and only communicate on this issue once the customer is in the ordering process. Then they let you choose the store from your country and explain why prices are different in each country (VAT & custom duties).
->Is this a good approach? I'm afraid a lot of people will complain.
B)some shops give a popup or popup-like screen once you arrive saying: It is only possible to deliver in country x when purchasing from this e-shop. Would you like to switch to another one?
->Anyone experience with this approach?

If you have an opinion, vision or experience with one of these issues, we will be very grateful if you would share it with us! Thx in advance.
Best regards,

[edited by: tedster at 5:43 pm (utc) on Jan. 13, 2010]
[edit reason] removed the extended signature [/edit]

5:55 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hello E-woman, and welcome to the forums.

The ccTLD is the principle sign to search engines about which "duplicate" version should be shown in which local countries search results. The next step, if you want to go to the added fuss, is to host the ccTLD in the local country it applies to.

The next thing you can do (and should do) is cultivate backlinks from other sites that are within the specific country. These three factors (ccTLD, hosting, backlinks) send the signals the search engines need to rank each version of your shop appropriately.

When it comes to currencies, I think the best approach as always to serve the local currency to the respective ccTLD, rather than trying to customize the currency by the visitor's IP address.

[edited by: tedster at 10:19 pm (utc) on Mar 18, 2010]

10:36 am on Jan 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Dear Tedster, thanks for your answer. The one thing we did not try yet is local hosting, but normally the test for one of our countries will be ready at the end of this week.
About the currency, not a bad idea.
9:58 pm on Mar 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

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An interesting article: Working with multi-regional websites