This article is an expansion of a question we answered on stackoverflow regarding the best way to structure URLs for multiple languages.
Multi-language SEO is difficult enough just breaking the language barrier, understanding cultural differences and seasonality without also considering the technical implications. Nevertheless, you have complete control over these technical elements so good research and planning should help you avoid “building on the sand”.
Google provide pretty robust guidelines for multi-regional and multilingual sites. Their guide outlines various best practice principles which we’ve summarised below for you.
This list should serve as a quick-fire reference for anyone implementing multi-regional or multilingual SEO.
- Make sure the page language is obvious
- Make sure each language variation is easily discoverable
- Keep multiple languages on separate pages
- Translate the words in the URL
- Target the website content to a specific country using CCTLDs, Geotargetting settings in Search Console and physical server location (or CDN)
- Duplicate content is not a problem if the content is for different users in different countries
- Therefore, do not try and ‘hide’ duplicate content by disallowing robots or noindexing
- Language specific content should only be available via a single URL so implement redirects where neccessary eg. example.com/de/ or example.de not both
- Declare the relationship between language variations using hreflang tag in page markup, HTTP header or sitemap
We hope you found this checklist helpful – please consider sharing so others can benefit!