Deploy your international presence using a custom country/ language location to create a new and successful natural-SEO version of your site (new language – new country). Learn all about SEO best practice for Multilingual and International Sites.

Good SEO practice for multilingual and international sites

logo_internationalThe pitfalls awaiting webmasters of international and multilingual sites are numerous and varied. It’s important to treat your international deployment as a priority by adopting rigorous and comprehensive project management. Your SEO success abroad will primarily depend on your ability to respond to the following points:

  • Should you simply transpose or translate the content?
  • Do you need a single layout and a single platform, or a country-specific adaptation?
  • What is the competitive context within each country?
  • Should you recast everything, or simply adapt to the country as required?
  • Should you manage everything internally, or seek advice and support?
  • How should you split tasks between global and local, internet vs external resources?

As you will understand, it is above all a question of defining and organising your international deployment project strategy before attempting to optimize the requisite SEO.

Search Foresight SEO consultants are well versed in this exercise, so we can help you make the right strategic choices.

With that in mind, here are some important tips you should consider:

– Model your site structure on that used by search engines. For example (Belgium) is available in 4 languages (French, Dutch, German, English).

– Geolocate your site and then your language to help Google by using an adapted ccTLD (ccTLD: Country Code TLD> be, fr,, de). If this is not possible, use Google GWT to help with geolocation.

– Create a language directory. Google recognises the ISO 3166 and 639 codes identifying countries and languages respectively, especially when used as the name of a root directory. The first two-letter code corresponds to the country, while the second relates to the language. Warning: using this notation facilitates identification, but does not ensure it alone… You are recommended to use it, but a search engine does not rely on this data alone, especially when determining the language of a page.

– Use the tag rel= “alternate” hreflang= “x”. This tag recently introduced by Google facilitates the management of frequently occurring cases: the creation of multilingual pages which are all very similar.

  • Your pages offer content that is globally fixed in a given language, with the exception of some variations based on the geographical area (for example, French content targeting Internet users from Belgium, France and Switzerland).
  • The content of the site is translated in its entirety. For example, each page is available in German and French.

– With a CDN, ensure that the servers are located in the target country or are at least geographically close. Download speed will affect your SEO and thus needs to be monitored. We would advise you not to persist with obtaining a local IP.

– Make sure that the language and location are well recognised, because two identical pages for two different country indexes are not duplicate content (provided that the geolocation is correct), and two almost identical pages in two different languages are likewise not duplicate content (provided that the language is correctly recognised)

– Avoid using a Splash Screen, because the creation of a home screen to choose the language is a practice strongly discouraged for reasons of ergonomics and counter performance of SEO. We recommend instead to detect the user’s country of origin, and the browser’s default language and then:

  • Define a country version and a default language to be presented if the detection fails
  • Automatically direct the user to the pages which are intended for him (detection of the browser language)
  • Allow him to choose another default setting, if automatic redirection does not suit him

– It’s not Cloaking. Modifying the pages presented according to the language does not pose SEO problems. And likewise, geolocation by IP is not cloaking, but IP delivery.

– Avoid the following errors:

  • Reverse URLs (Language first, then country: ==> Problem: Geolocation then becomes impossible
  • One language per ccTLD ( =>=> french, and =>english)
  • The language within the settings ( ==> Often not well understood by search engines …

– Choose and declare your Charset

logo_internationalClassic distribution of SEO tasks for an international deployment



Technical issues managementSouvent GlobalAudit : out sourced, project management : in house, with the help of external consultants
Interface translationGlobal and localIn house
Global content translationGlobal and locallocal, with the help of specialised agencies, and overall monitoring
Local contentLocalIn house where there are important business constraints, otherwise external
Keyword discoveryGlobal and localGlobal guidelines : global, analyses local  : local avec outsourcing
Meta tags optimizationGlobal and localGlobal guidelines: global, local analysis: local with outsourcing
NetlinkingGlobal and localGuidelines: in house + operational: in house + outsourcing
ReportingGenerally globalGuidelines: in house + operational: in house + outsourcing


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