Local SEO is the process of adapting your digital messages to be discoverable and understood by your target audience. Applying SEO fundamentals is a must but is not enough when you want to spread your business globally. The adaptation here is to NOT ONLY translate your content and put SEO keywords, it goes far beyond that. In the introduction article, we talked about the basic definitions and hints for Local SEO. Today, I will focus on one item which is applying best practices for Local SEO URL Structure.
Search engines, like Google, are smart enough to detect the language and target location of your online content but you still need to help it become more discover-able by using the appropriate language of your target audience there.
Adding the target language to the URL structure of your web page helps Search Engines understand your piece of content better including language and location. There are approaches to achieve this but none of them is the perfect one. Your SEO strategy, your website technical status and of course your business should decide the best approach. The approaches are:
- Using language code as a subdomain: [language code].[your domain].com i.e. fr.xyz.com
- Using language code as sub-folder: [your-domain].com/[language code]
- Country Code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs): [your domain].ae
Pros and Cons of using the language code as Sub-domain:
- If you are planning to make major content changes between the target languages. If your content between languages will not be identical. Then, use the Sub-domain approach. So this will be treated as if it is a completely different website.
- But, from an SEO perspective, if your original domain has a good and strong rank in search engines, then using sub-domains may affect it.
- From a technical perspective, you need to make sure you are covered on matters like technical resources, cost and time. Because using a different structure per language is not an easy process for developing or for future maintaining.
Pros and Cons of using the Language Code as Sub-Folder:
- In this case, you will save the integrity of your website structure between languages.
- But you will not have the extreme liberty for a profound change regarding the content structure between languages. In Content Management Systems, applying different structures per language is a difficult process. That’s why it is a must to carefully analyze the multilingual capability of different CMS’s before buying a specific one, to make sure it goes well with your business’s current and future needs such as expanding the business beyond your local boundaries.
- Unlike the first approach, your SEO rank for the main domain will not be affected. Also, you don’t have to worry about the technical aspects as all languages will be almost following the same structure as the original language.
Pros and Cons of using CCTLDs approach:
CCTLD’s is the most strong approach to let Search Engines know your website target country and language. Besides that, it gives you full control to customize your target User Experience based on a specific language and country culture.
But, CCTLD’s are not that simple to be applied and need a strong budget to secure the related technical and content strategies. Furthermore, it may require Governmental legal acceptance to get permission. Also, like the sub-domains approach, your main domain search engine’s rank can be affected.
Please feel free to leave a comment or to Contact Me for an open discussion!