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Google Offers Guidance on Starting a Multi-Lingual Site

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Do the Beijing Olympics have you thinking global? If so, you may be considering whether or not to offer your site content in another language.

Google understands and they have offered up three points worthy of consideration when making the decision to go multilingual.

Site Structure

First, you need to decide if you want to feature other languages because you want to target another country (geo targeting) or because you simply want to reach an audience that speaks a specific language. If geo targeting is the case, then you may want to set up your content on a country-specific TLD (top-level domain, i.e. co.uk).

If you're focused more on just the language, Google has these two tips:

  1. Put the content of every language in a different subdomain. For our example, you would have en.example.com, de.example.com, and es.example.com.
  2. Put the content of every language in a different subdirectory. This is easier to handle when updating and maintaining your site. For our example, you would have example.com/en/, example.com/de/, and example.com/es/.

Webmaster Tools for Geo Targeting

In Google's Webmaster Tools, you can set geographic targets for different subdirectories or subdomains, if you choose to host the multilingual content on your original site.

Content Organization
When it comes to organizing your content, Google says straight out of the gate that the same content in two or more languages is not considered duplicate content.

Moving on from there, keep navigation and content on a subdirectory or subdomain to one language. Mixing up the languages could confuse the googlebot.

What are your tips for creating multilingual sites? Share them in the comments.


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