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How Do Domain Structure Strategies Affect Multilingual SEO?


If you have a business running across different countries across the globe, you might be having multiple websites to satisfy the requirements of every country differently. And for this, you will have to take a number of decisions on how to structure each of your sites. There are many different domain structure strategies that you can use across your sites, which include –

  • Different TLD (xyz.com and xyz.co.in)
  • Different name (xyz.com and xyzindia.com)
  • Different language/location sub-directory (xyz.com/en-gb and xyz.com/en-us)
  • Different sub-domain structure (usa.xyz.com and uk.xyz.com)

But, there are pros and cons for each of these strategies, which are explained here in detail. You need to understand all of these in depth in order to rank high for multilingual SEO.

Different TLD / different name

These are two easiest ways to choose your domains for different sites catering to different countries if you are a decentralized business. For a website in UK, you can have the domain as .uk, for USA you can have it as .us and for India you can have it as .co.in. Or, you may change the name from xyz.com to xyzindia.com and xyzusa.com. But, there are drawbacks to both these strategies. The major drawback that is encountered is semantic flux. When more than one interrelated domains coexist in the SERPs for the same search term and the content on both the websites is similar, Google fails to differentiate between them and treats them as the same domain, giving position to only one of them on SERPs. For example, if you have different TLDs or names for websites for the UK and US but, the content is virtually identical, with maybe a few changes in the phone number, address and currency, then the two pages compete with each other because Google cannot decide on which page to rank.

Different language / location sub-directory

This is a great strategy for a centralized company, where a single website has different sub-directories for locations and languages. But, different landing pages can compete against each other in this case, leading to internal cannibalization. The problem faced here is that you would encounter problems in getting the correct page to rank in SERPs. So, it is possible that your UK page is not being ranked for users in the UK, and they are being directed to your US page. Ultimately, your users are being sent to the wrong page.

Different sub-domain structure

If you opt for different sub-domain structures for different sites, it will provide freedom to national departments easily and will prove to be profitable from the organizational perspective. However, you will have to take different languages into account in this case, leading to sub-domain cannibalization. Google will only feature one sub-domain on its SERPs for a particular search term, even if you offer different content. So, here also a proportion of traffic may go to the wrong page.

You can see that there are drawbacks for every strategy. Cannibalization, semantic flux and all sorts of issues occur across multiple sites. According to research, the sub-directory option is the best among all. It is for you to decide which strategy will suit your requirement. And, if you want to stay away from all these issues, having a single site would be the best option for you.


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