How to Best Set up Your Mutilingual and International Website
Most of our customers and potential ones have multilingual SEO that target different languages and worldwide countries. Even websites that target just the Gulf region want to rank first page of Google in each and every Arab country. Hence, clients often ask us about our recommendations for best international SEO websites. We will elaborate hereafter the most recommended different options available with the advantage and disadvantage of each, so that you can better choose what best meet your objectives.
1. Country code top level domains
This option involves using a country code top level domain for each country that you are targeting.
www.yourwebsite.com.sa for Saudi Arabia
www.yourwebsite.ae for the UAE.
– This is undoubtedly the most pertinent international SEO signal for Google that far outweigh all other local signals.
– As country code top level domains shows clearly the targeted country, hence Google doesn’t have trouble to show it in the correct country search results.
– It usually has a higher click-through rate, as web searchers see a domain that is somehow familiar to them which increases their trust towards that website.
– Links target separate domains rather than one domain that targets all countries.
– If the country code top level domain has been set up just recently, as is the case with brand new domains, it can necessitate more time to rank well because it needs to create some authority beforehand.
– Country code top level domains are similar to managing multiple sites. Therefore, more work is needed to manage country code top level domains, both in terms of link building and technical work among others, like handle the registration and renewal of each domain, etc.
2. Generic top level domains with subdomains
This option involves using a single, generic top level domain and then creating subdomains which are targeted to each language and / or country.
This will look something like this:
http://sa.yourwebsite.com – targeting Saudi Arabia
http://en.example.com – targeting the UK
– This procedure is not very technically complicated from the developper’s perspective, for subdomains are easy built and maintained, even though they would be like independent domains on your server.
– Geo targeting option in Google Webmaster Tools can be used to inform Google which country is being targeted.
– Subdomains can be distributed on different servers and in different countries.
– Each subdomain’s name can be customized as you want, according to the targeted country and language.
– As search engines consider subdomains as different websites, hence they don’t benefit from the link equity and domain strength of the main domain.
– If you build a new subdomain, it can be considered as a new site and take more time to build authority and rank in relevant countries it target.
– Substantial resources are needed to manage subdomains
3. Generic top level domains with subfolders
This option involves using a single, generic top level domain and using a subfolder for each language and / or country that you’re targeting. An example structure may be:
yourwebsite.com/ae– targeting United Arab Emirates
yourwebsite.com/en-UK/– targeting English speakers (En) in the United Kingdom (UK)
yourwebsite.com/fr-Be/– targeting French speakers in Belgium
– It is possible to geo-target subfolders to particular countries using Google Webmaster Tools.
– If the link equity work has been duly established on the main domain, the authority and strength of that domain will pass to each subfolder, helping it rank relatively quickly compared to above mentioned option.
– If you have multiple ccTLDs, a consolidation of the link equity from these should help the main generic domain become a lot stronger which again can help with ranking. This also means that any links built into each country subfolder will help not only that section, but the domain as a whole
– Each subfolder can be managed from one content management system, and in result, development setup and maintenance work is a lot easier.
– Hosting is limited to a single country.
– Statistics show that web surfers are more prone to click from country specific top level domains pertinent to their country, which means that click-through-rate might be lower in this option, unless you use country codes recognizable to web surfers.
Now that you understand all the pros and cons of each process, you’ll be able to assess what best meet your target. To best build your SEO strategy, get in touch with our experts to set up a customized SEO strategy to help you successfully rank and expand in your targeted countries.