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How should I handle localized content for different languages/countries?

How should I handle localized content for different languages/countries? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

Today’s question comes from Tim Weibel in Buffalo, New York. And Tim wants to know: let’s say I want to add multiple languages or countries to mysite.com. Would I be better off including all translations within mydomain.com, or would I be better off creating mydomain.fr, mydomain.nl, mydomain.ca, et cetera? Well, mydomain.ca is Canada, so if you’re English you don’t need to translate that one, eh, unless you really want to add a lot of local color to it. But if you have, for example, French, or German, or Dutch, or something like that, absolutely. I would translate that. I would make sure I don’t auto-translate that, make sure that it would read right to a normal user. And then, if possible, I would put it on separate domains. So mydomain.fr, mydomain.nl. Now, why do we recommend that? The reasons are that, number one, it’s a lot easier for search engines to be able to tell this entire domain is related to this language or this particular country. The other reason is it’s easier for users. You’d be surprised how well someone will respond a little more if it resonates with them. And they say hey this is a local business. It’s not just some translation over on a random.com somewhere. Now that does cost a little more, and it opens you up to a little more overhead. It takes a little more time. But if you’re a big enough business where you can afford to get the domains in other countries, I would recommend that. If you can’t do that, you can always make, for example, a subdomain. De.domain.com, or fr.domain.com. But if you have an easy choice and you can get the full domain in a different country level TLD, or top level domain, I would probably do it that way. One last point of caution. There’s a lot of people who might think, oh I’ll just automatically translate all my content into 40 different languages, and now 40 different language markets can all read what I have to say. And we’re going to make clear– or I’m making clear right now– that our guidelines about auto-generated stuff can also apply to auto-translated text. If you’re searching in French and you show up on a page and it’s been completely auto-translated, and it doesn’t even read well at all and no one has put any kind of human care into proofreading it or making sure that it flows, that’s really a bad experience. So we would prefer that you maybe add a widget that says translate into this language, or something like that. And not just auto-translate into a bunch of languages and just throw that content up there. So those are a few things to bear in mind whenever you’re thinking about which domains to go with. You can always use Google Webmaster Tools if you want to go ahead and specify if you have a dot-com. For example, oh, I’m actually related to this particular country. But if you have the top level domain for that country, that’s a pretty inescapable signal that this is really relevant to that particular market.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: