How to Prevent Duplicate Content with International SEO

SEO Cogs The world is getting ever smaller, and just thinking English speaking countries are interested in your product or service, is selling your business short! However, reaching and supporting customers beyond the English speaking world does present its own set of challenges and specialised knowledge and expertise.  But perhaps you’re asking yourself whether duplicate content is an issue if you’re having your website translated?

Well in a word: no.  The same text across multiple languages is certainly not duplicate content, as Google understands the context of the translated text. So here’s some quick tips to approach translation of your website successfully:

Use a Professional

Frankly, if you want to attract customers internationally, depending on Google Translate to reach those non-English speaking customers won’t work very well, if at all, and will reflect badly on your business.

If you’re serious about your business, you should hire a professional translator to translate your site accurately.  Because it’s not just translating the words, but also translating the context, making sure culturally the new text makes sense, and ensuring the meaning you’re trying to put across is really put across in the new language, even if the words are different.

And if your text is very specialised (medical or legal content for example) you’ll want to make sure your translator is suitable for that task.  And remember – translators always translate into their native tongue, and ideally should live in (or spend regular time in) the country they’re translating for, so they’re immersed in the language and culture.

Sub Domain, New Domain, or Folder?

A couple of questions you’ll need to answer here:

First of all, once you have your translated website, should you automatically forward the visitor to that version of the website by checking their geographic location?

For example – if the technical set up on your website sees that a visitor is coming from Germany, should you automatically forward them to the German version of your site, or should they initially be presented with the English version, and then they would have to manually choose to see the German language version?

And another important decision is:

Should the language versions be set up as a folder, for example:

  • German:
  • French:
  • Japanese:

Or perhaps sub domains:

  • German:
  • French:
  • Japanese:

Or even country level sites for each language:

  • German:
  • French:
  • Japanese:

Setting this up at the folder level is the easiest.  At a sub domain level is more work, but may make more sense if you really want to personalise your site at a country level.  And setting up country specific domains is the most advanced and most involved option, and generally makes the most sense if you’re a very established business with an office address, and staff, in each of those countries.

Supporting Those International Leads & Customers

It also becomes a question of supporting international leads and customers, so that may require sales and even project management staff being fluent in multiple languages, which creates more complexity and cost for you, but does open up those new markets fully.

So unless the process is very badly handled, duplicate content with a translated website is rarely an issue, and the translation process does open up huge opportunities if it’s handled well.

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