Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Laurie Turnbull on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Wednesday, December 10, 2014).

A question relating to international SEO.

Hi there. I have a question relating to international SEO. 

My client`s website has three country versions: New Zealand, Australia and UK using a *.com TLD.

As they are a new Zealand company, they want the New Zealand homepage to be the default when the visitor enters via .com from wthin New Zealand. (They use IP Geo targeting for the other 2 countries.)

They have opted to redirect the .com page to the .com/nz homepage using a 302 rather than a 301. (I can only assume they want to retain the .com homepage in the index).

My question is what best practice should I recommend? Should they set the redirect as 301 (though I notice that a number of global sites use 302s as well - ibm.com, microsoft.com to name a couple).

And/or should they create a default home page with a country selector and then mark up the country-specific pages with rel="alternate" hreflang="x"?

Any thoughts welcome.

Thanks!

Laurie?

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YOUR ANSWERS

Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.

  • Laurie Turnbull: Hi there. I have a question relating to international SEO. ;

    My client's website has three country versions: New Zealand, Australia and UK using a *.com TLD.

    As they are a new Zealand company, they want the New Zealand homepage to be the default when the visitor enters via .com from wthin New Zealand. (They use IP Geo targeting for the other 2 countries.)

    They have opted to redirect the .com page to the .com/nz homepage using a 302 rather than a 301. (I can only assume they want to retain the .com homepage in the index).

    My question is what best practice should I recommend? Should they set the redirect as 301 (though I notice that a number of global sites use 302s as well - , to name a couple).

    And/or should they create a default home page with a country selector and then mark up the country-specific pages with rel="alternate" hreflang="x"?

    Any thoughts welcome.

    Thanks!

    Laurie
  • Federico Sasso: Hi.

    302 is the proper code when redirecting based on IP geo-location or HTTP-accept-language. And yes, it permits keeping the root address indexed.

    alternate/hreflang is recommended if the pages are exact equivalent of each others, especially in the case where language is in all cases a flavour of English and could be mis-interpreted as duplicate content.

    As far as the root address goes, in your case you might consider adding rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" (I'm assuming all three versions have subdirectories and the root URL always ends with a redirect to one of the three). Value "x-default" is valid for both cases where you 302 redirect, or you have a simple country selector page.

    Hope this helps
  • Ligatures.Net: hreflang is for language specific issues, not geolocation. However, you can play with values: ;en-GB, en-NZ, en-US... hreflang helps search engines serving appropriate pages in their results.

    Also, link juice is not passed to pages when using 302. They cannot use 301, because that would be conflicting information to Google bots when accessing their site from different countries (sometimes permanently redirected, sometimes not).

    But the bottom question is, what is their issue? What do they complain about? What are they trying to achieve?
  • Martin Kůra: The question is why the want to redirect users while wanting the .COM homepage to be the default version for NZ users. That doesn`t make any sense. If they really want the .COM domain be the default version for NZ, there doesn`t have to be any redirect. They can simply set the geo-targeting signals such as country targeting in Webmaster Tools, NAP information etc. to New Zealand, while placing hreflang annotations that will tell search engines which version is intended for which users. If they want to redirect NZ users to the /nz subdirectory, I would leave the .COM homepage as x-default and will make sure that there are no specific geo-targeting signals telling otherwise. Then do the same, as described above, with the /nz/ subdirectory. However, the decision which content to show to whom is still key here.
  • Jim Munro: Thank you for you input, Martin Kura. I appreciate your interest but I think there is another issue to consider. Residents of NZ will expect the local business to have a .co.nz extension. They will wonder whether it is a local business if they stick to the .com.

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Wednesday, December 10, 2014).

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