SEO: Country targeting vs. Language targeting

Written by: Endouble Endouble
Blog

Endouble is building more and more websites for international clients. Many of these websites are multilingual, or target audiences in multiple geographical regions. On the occasion of HR Tech 2015 in Paris, we’ll be posting a few short blogs, about SEO and Universal Analytics for multilingual and international recruitment websites.

Country targeting versus Language targeting

When considering an international recruitment website, analytics data plays a major role. E.g. Universal Analytics could demonstrate that there is a sufficient amount of traffic and conversion coming from multiple countries. In such a case, targeting several countries with separate websites might be profitable. Each website offers unique, tailor made content written in the local language.

Analytics might, however, also show that while traffic and conversion comes from several languages, most of it finds its origin in just a single country. Belgium for example, is bilingual. In that case, you’d better target languages rather than countries, by providing language versions of the content on only one website.

Impact on domain choice and URL-structure

While the impact of targeting in some cases (partly) depends on the domain and structure of your existing website, there are roughly 3 choices:

Country Targeting

  1. Top Level Domain(TLD) - e.g. workingatyourcompany.fr (best choice)
    Optionally, it is possible to host the website locally, for example, for the sake of performance or administration.
  2. Subdirectory - e.g. workingatyourcompany.com/fr/
  3. Subdomain - e.g. fr.workingatyourcompany.com

Language Targeting

  1. Top Level Domain
    Not an option! This would suggest that your website focuses on that specific country, rather than just the language.
  2. Subdirectory - eg workingatyourcompany.com/nl/ (best choice)
  3. Subdomain - e.g. nl.workingatyourcompany.com

 

Note that each language version or country website must be independently accessible for both your visitors and the Googlebot.

Our next blog will explain how to tell search engines the language or country you’re targeting, using language annotations like hreflang.