Tag Archives: Search Engine Visibility

Search engine optimization for websites in multiple languages

A common issue facing companies and organizations with an international presence is how to deploy multilingual sites across one or more Internet domain(s). In other words, should one put all the sites on a .com or .org domain, perhaps taking advantage of directories on the web server to separate each language? Is this the best solution for existing and potential customers? Will there be problems with search engine indexing and visibility?

After having tackled the issue in various SEO projects, I decided to share some of the issues that should be considered when choosing the right path for your company or organization.

Start with the search engines – but think of your visitors

Websites exist to communicate with a diverse audience – customers, potential customers, employees, investors, suppliers, etc. In the web planning and design phase, it is essential not to lose sight of the site’s target audience. But it is also highly critical to keep in mind how web sites are found on the net, starting with Google.

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The Google Webmaster Dashboard, a.k.a. Google Sitemaps

In order to index and display web content in their search results, search engines need to be able to find the content. The first generation of Internet search engines relied on webmasters to submit a site’s primary URL, the site’s “home page”, to the search engine’s crawler database. The crawler would then follow each link it found on the home page. Problems soon emerged – much site content can be inadvertently hidden from crawlers, such as that behind drop-down lists and forms.

Update: Google Sitemaps was renamed Google Webmaster Tools on 5-Aug-2005 to better reflect its more expansive role.

Fast forward to 2005. Search engine crawlers have improved their ability to find sites through from other sites – site submission is no longer relevant. Yet many web sites are still coded in ways which impede automatic search engine discovery of the rich content often available in larger, complex web sites.

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UK and US English Dialect Considerations for Site Internationalization

Search Engines and Site Localization

While there are few differences between the UK and US English dialects which might lead to miscomprehension, Noah Webster‘s spelling reform does lead to interesting issues which need to be considered when designing sites for international audiences.

Note Update: This document was written in 2006 and no longer represents the current state of search affairs. It has been left here as a historical reference. Search engines continually refine their algorithms and that is reflected in how they currently handle regional linguistic differences.

Is it “my favorite color” or “my favourite colour”?

While it may seem like an arcane academic question, how you spell your English language content can determine your site’s visibility in search engines and how your site is perceived by your visitors.

With about two-thirds of native English speakers in the US, American spelling predominates the web. Not surprisingly, a non-scientific survey of search expressions using both US and UK spellings yields more matches for the US variant: