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Multilanguage Site, Alias Actually Better Than 301?

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7 replies to this topic

#1 Dominik


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Posted 17 December 2009 - 08:19 AM

Hello, new here!

We are running a multi-language site in Czech and Slovak (Central Europe/European Union). The languages are very similiar and both countries almost perfectly understand each other. The site is IT news-related and we even have editors from both countries, so articles are written randomly in both languages. Even the market is shared in some ways so we are selling the advertising placements to companies both from Czech and Slovak republic by visitor IP (Geo database).

The primary domain is somesite.sk. We have a 301 redirect from somesite.cz to somesite.sk. However, results on CZ Google really suck, the site is basically non-existent in the results (on the other hand, on SK, we are always topping the results). We are looking for a way to solve this.

I know that Google defaults to worldwide and there are some more factors which affect the results (local companies and sites have higher priority on worlwide search), but still, is there any way to boost the performance in Czech-only search results?

Since we've used 301 for the last 3 years, nobody is linking to somesite.cz. All backlinks are to somesite.sk.

Would aliasing help instead of using 301 in this case? Also specifying <DIV "lang="> <p "lang="> and <h "lang="> for all articles? Please keep in mind that about 30% of the words in both languages are the same and the rest are very similiar, so specifying might not always be the best idea -- maybe it's better to fool Google so it suggests auto-correct. Maybe also a detection script which detects the visitor by IP and uses the corresponding TLD by his location (that could help spread backlinks to both TLDs in both countries)? Two sitemaps?

The primary advertising market is still SK though. We don't want to cannibalize SK, only improve performance in CZ.

What is your suggestion please? Thank you very much.

Edited by Dominik, 17 December 2009 - 08:43 AM.

#2 Randy


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Posted 17 December 2009 - 11:42 AM

Welcome ! hi.gif

nobody is linking to somesite.cz

That's your main issue most likely. Along with possibly how you're triggering the 301's. It sounds like you have that set up to redirect only if the IP number traces back to a Czech IP range, which Googlebot will never have. So unless you're also giving Googlebot IP's (and other search engine spiders as well) a free pass to get to both you could have indexing issues for the .cz pages.

Does the same content live on both domains? If so there could also be duplicate content issues in the mix.

Whether to make both accessible is the first question. If the content is the same in both locations that will probably be a fruitless exercise. If the content is different then you need to make sure you give the spiders a free pass to get to both sets of content in your Geo targeting/redirect scheme and also beef up the incoming links to each version.

#3 Dominik


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Posted 17 December 2009 - 11:57 AM

Thank you Randy.

Yes, the content on both domains is the same. They point to the same Apache server with the exact same data.

The current redirect works as follows:

- You enter somesite.cz and you are automatically forwarded to somesite.sk (somesite.sk displayed in address bar)
- You enter somesite.cz/something/article123 and you are automatically forwarded to somesite.sk/something/article123 (the sme displayed in the address bar)

The is of course the most simple permanent redirect, but because of this, nobody ever shared or posted a somesite.cz URL anywhere since the project launch. Aliasing may be considered as duplicate content though.

"sounds like you have that set up to redirect only if the IP number traces back to a Czech IP range, which Googlebot will never have. So unless you're also giving Googlebot IP's (and other search engine spiders as well) a free pass to get to both you could have indexing issues for the .cz pages."

There is currently no IP based forwarding set whatsoever. The redirect is as most simple as it can be I believe. I understand your point though that Google bot won't have the IP in Czech Geo-range.

Are there any possible solutions or optimization tricks for this scenario (maybe some of the questions I've asked in my thread-starting post)?

Thank you very much. Great forum.

#4 Randy


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Posted 17 December 2009 - 12:06 PM

The question quickly becomes one of whether or not it's worth the effort to break them apart into separate sites. Which you can break down two ways.

1. Is the .sk site not showing up at all for searchers in the .cz region? (Note: Because of the redirects the .ca pages shouldn't be showing up, so look to see if your .sk pages show up for .cz searches.)

2. Do Czech users prefer using a .cz site over a .sk site?

If #2 is true, then it'll probably be worth the effort because you'd be losing conversions from the Czech market because of the domain extension. This can sometimes be a trust thing.

If #1 is true then it'll probably be worth the effort because none of your pages will be showing up for Czech users in the first place, meaning they can never convert since they never actually arrive at your site.

Those are the two questions to answer. Once you know this much you can make a more informed decision. If you do end up with two sites you'll need to make them unique from each other. Which can be a large pain.

You may want to look into installing the little Google Rank Extractor tool in my signature. (1DMF has a Perl version in his signature if you prefer that over php.) While the tool isn't specifically built for this type of job it does display rankings by the gTLD, so it'll at least be able to tell you if your .sk site is currently ranking well for its phrases for .cz users. So it'll answer the first question for you pretty quickly, and be able to give you a quick comparison of the two.

#5 Dominik


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Posted 17 December 2009 - 12:25 PM


We were thinking about separating the website into two physical ones, but (not only) due to the size of the project, it could be time consuming, would require CMS modifications, also financially complicated and in the end, both sites would STILL contain the same news content at a given minute, since the site is about publishing news. Wouldn't that be considered as duplicate content? And there's a very active forum on the website as well. Two separate sites doesn't seem right to me.

Answers to the most important questions:

1. When searching the .cz region on google.cz, somesite.sk site is indeed deep somewhere on 20-100th page range, but yes, only somesite.sk URLs are always shown in the search results)

2. Nope. They don't care at all about the TLD. Czech population visit .sk sites daily and vice versa by people from Slovakia. Visitors from both countries understand the whole website anyway since it's being written in both languages randomly which are so similiar.

People mostly spread the content by copypasting the URL from their address bar and by submitting articles to social networks. If a Czech visitor would always get a .cz TLD in his address bar and also when Sharing on social networks, he/they would generate a lot of backlinks naturally to somesite.cz. That could help in the long go.

EDIT: I've just installed Google Rank Extractor, curious about its magic. Will definitely check the results from it after some time as well.

Edited by Dominik, 17 December 2009 - 12:50 PM.

#6 Dominik


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Posted 18 December 2009 - 07:34 PM

Reporting back with my stats from GRE (great utility, big thank you for it). As expected, NO traffic from google.cz and dozens of results from google.sk.

I'd be grateful for any advice regarding my situation.

#7 Anderson


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Posted 20 January 2010 - 09:06 PM

If I understood you correctly, you would like for google.cz to list yoursite.sk high up as it happens in google.sk.

A few things worth looking into:

1) doing a site:yoursite.cz and site:yoursite.sk on both google.cz and google.sk, do both of your sites come up as indexed or just one of the domains?
2) have you compared the data of both of your sites in google webmaster tools? maybe there is some info there that could be helpful
3) have you done a serp check comparing domains on google.cz and google.sk?

4) In the end, you might want to consider doing a test for a few weeks, and see if removing the 301 and keep yoursite.cz content visible on its own domain. There shouldn't be any penalties, although you should monitor and see if the changes that might happen are worth keeping your sites on two domains.
5) Another test is to not allow your cz site to be indexed for 4-6 weeks and see if having just the sk site drives your sk ranking higher up in google.cz.

I'm no expert, so maybe a more experienced member here might want to give some feedback on my suggestions before you jump onto them (particularly 4 and 5).

#8 Dominik


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Posted 22 January 2010 - 06:02 AM

Thank you very much Anderson.

1) Mysite.cz has been 301'd to mysite.sk since the site was launched three years ago. So there are NO results when searching "keyword site:mysite.cz". On the other hand, "keyword site:mysite.sk" brings up tons of great results.
2) Yes, actually, there's nothing unusual in GWT. Lots of backlink to .sk, zero to .cz, very few people visiting mysite.sk from google.cz
3) Yes, mysite.sk is topping results on google.sk, but is very deep below on google.cz, as expected.

The primary reason is the fact that nobody shares mysite.cz links over the internet (hence it's 301'd to mysite.sk), so there are no mysite.cz backlinks for Google Bot to index and follow. I think the best way will be to create a PHP script which will do the following:

1. Check if the hostname/IP address of incoming visitor is within .CZ geo area
2. If yes, open mysite.cz (no 301), so in case the visitor shares the URL, he'll share mysite.cz
3. If not (or unable to detect), continue loading mysite.sk

Any thoughts on this? Thank you.

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