International SEO: Domain Strategies?

ashfeller
Contributor

Hi there, 

Just want to hear what type of domain approach you've taken for internationalization of your website(s)? We're using a top-level domain approach. All of our templates for website pages are the same. But, we have many "if tags" set up on the backend for different languages. 

I'd love to hear what's working for you!

 

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Pagenoi
Contributor

Hey,
So my current company is not international so I don't have to worry about this at the moment but I've definitely dealt with it in the past, and can say that there is no perfect way to go about it. 

There are a lot of different top-level domain structures but probably the most common are Generic (gTDL) and Country Code (ccTLD) and they both have pros and cons. I think probably the biggest negative is that you split your domain authority by using top-level splits. So, for instance, you may have gained significant authority on your .COM domain but it wouldn't necessarily translate to your .CA - at least this way my biggest issue in the past. The benefit is that Search Engines generally understand geotargeting better when you are using a ccTLD, and are often quick to focus on the local version you've provided. This is especially true if you are providing unique content to each location, or even using geo-specific Smart Content to vary your content. Just make sure that if you are duplicating on separate domains you use canonical tags so that you don't cannibalize your own traffic.

In terms of different languages, I think the most preferred way to handle that is still subdirectories (something.com/fr). So, if for instance, you are targeting Canada where both English and French are spoken, and let's say your .COM domain ranks better than your .CA but you still want people to have the ability to access the french version it isn't going to negatively affect your .COM's authority in any way. 

Not sure if any of that really helps but I figured I would share my own experience with going international. 

esliney
HubSpot Employee

@LBeresford-Wardwanted to tag you in and see if you have any thoughts on this question.  

 

LBeresford-Ward
Participant

I think it depends on if you are targeting the content based on country or language.

 

I don't have personal experience of doing this but here's a handy quote from Moz.

 

"If you're targeting a specific country, think about using a ccTLD. But, if you are focusing on language targeting only, a ccTLD probably isn't your best choice as they're meant for targeting a specific geographic area and not specifically the language spoken there. In these cases, you'll likely want to use a different internationalization technique such as using hreflang, subfolders, or subdomains in combination with or instead of using a ccTLD. If you choose not to use a ccTLD for your internationally targeted site, check out this discussion of the pros and cons of subdirectories versus subdomains."

ashfeller
Contributor

@LBeresford-Ward Thanks so much for this insight! 

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