SEO and International Corporate Websites – Foreign Languages and IP GEO Targeting | Cardinal Path Blog
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SEO and International Corporate Websites – Foreign Languages and IP GEO Targeting

Goals
1) Serve some or all content based on IP location.
2) Serve the appropriate language (sometimes the language should be English even in the visitor is in a foreign country).

SEO Concerns
1) Google rankings in the USA –
What happens if Googlebot spiders the wrong page and our US rankings drop?
2) Google rankings in other countries ex: www.google.de – We want Googlebot to spider our German page and rank it appropriately.

Current understanding of the information Google has made public
1) If the strategy for using GEO IP targeting is user based, then it is not considered cloaking and Google will not penalize you even if your serve different versions of the same webpage to different people.

Strategy
1) US Google rankings – ensure that www.SiteXYZ.com as a page, stays English/US focused.
2) Your US www.SiteXYZ.com page should have links/flags to international versions of the website.
3) Different language versions of www.SiteXYZ.com should be built out inside third level domain names if the corporation does not own it's sister domain names like www.SiteXYZ.co.uk and/or www.SiteXYZ.ca etc.

What does that mean my domain names should look like?
www.SiteXYZ.co.uk and www.SiteXYZ.de

Or in the case where the corporation doesn't own their sister domain names.

www.uk.SiteXYZ.com and www.de.SiteXYZ.com

4) Once these foreign language pages are created, and properly coded (language header code and character sets), they should start to rank appropriately at foreign Google portals.

  • Bonus points if you submit your new www.de.SiteXYZ.com to Google local (hint: use your local address).

Conclusion
1) There should be no automatic redirects (remember this is an international corporate website, not a store).
2) There is very little need to deliver copy based on GEO targeting the IP (except in cases where gaming laws forbid use or in the case of something simple like marketing messages). The goal should be to get the surfer to the appropriate copy (usually language) as quickly as possible.

* You should use GEO targeting to personalize all the sites in the following way. If I saw your IP was from Spain and you showed up at www.SiteXYZ.com I would have the page offer the visitor the Spanish version, but I would not automatically redirect them.

  • Example: “For the Spanish version of our site click here”. The secret is to recognize that their IP is in Spain, and then to deliver this message in Spanish so they can read it and move to the Spanish site if they want to.

——-Note———
It is ambiguous whether Googlebot always appears as US based. I have seen Matt Cutt's (Google Guy) say that the site will be spidered from a US bot perspective, but I have personally checked a number of Google bot IP #’s and I have seen Japan, and Germany located IP’s.

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