How should I handle localized content?

How should I handle localized content?


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.

9 thoughts on “How should I handle localized content?

  1. What if the domain name will differ? For example the English is mydomain.com and the French is ledomain.fr, will there be a problem ?

  2. I'm glad to hear that using an autotranslate widget (such as the "Select Language" tool supplied by Google Translate) won't set off any spam alarms at Google. On an niche editorial site like ours, it isn't practical to spend millions of dollars to translate 6,000 or 7,000 pages of text into several dozen languages, but it seems polite to offer machine translation as an option for readers from non-English-speaking countries.

  3. @dynamicalbiz
    I totally agree.
    It's like having mydomain . com / blog versus blog . mydomain . com
    The first one will benefit from the domain's relevance. The second won't. However, if you can get the second to acquire it's own relevancy, you can link to your main domain, "sending" relevance.

    In this case, if your main domain is already relevant and has PR, I would go with:
    mydomain . com / fr
    mydomain . com / es

  4. Thank you Matt as always! Than you Tim for asking such an interesting question! It is super to get clarification like this.

  5. @Sandman267 I have the same question. Does anybody have the answer? Is it useful to have an different TLD with only about 5% different content?

  6. Does location of your server matter in terms of search engine ranking? We have servers in Canada and it seems we get better ranking in Canada. However our number one focus is to get traffic from US and then other countries.

  7. what if it's a dynamic multilingual website for events where ppl can add events anytime, and i would like content to be in two languages what should i do ?

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