Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Mateusz Mucha on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, January 7, 2016).

Redirecting based on user`s locale setting

Anothe i18n question.

We`ll go with different language versions in subfolders (domain.com/de/german-category-slug/german-page-slug). I think we`ll go without the "/en" for English pages (so domain.com/english-cat-slug/english-page-slug)... please let me know if you think it`s a bad idea.

I`m wondering about redirects based on user`s locale setting. We won`t do anything on sub-pages (you come to the English URL, you stay there and have to manually change the language if you want to transfer to a German page), but I`m wondering about a behavior for the front page. Basically what happens when the user comes to https://domain.com . Here are my options:

1. Do nothing - just show the English version.
2. Redirect to a localized version. Then I`d have to use domain.com/en, just so that the user has a chance to visit the English version and not be redirected. Also, would I lose PageRank when most of the inbound links would point to domain.com, but it would redirect to domain.com/en?
3. Show an English version, but notify the user that a localized version exists.

What solution would you recommend?

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YOUR ANSWERS

Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.

  • Mateusz Mucha: Anothe i18n question.

    We'll go with different language versions in subfolders (). I think we'll go without the "/en" for English pages (so .. please let me know if you think it's a bad idea.

    I'm wondering about redirects based on user's locale setting. We won't do anything on sub-pages (you come to the English URL, you stay there and have to manually change the language if you want to transfer to a German page), but I'm wondering about a behavior for the front page. Basically what happens when the user comes to . Here are my options:

    1. Do nothing - just show the English version.
    2. Redirect to a localized version. Then I'd have to use , just so that the user has a chance to visit the English version and not be redirected. Also, would I lose PageRank when most of the inbound links would point to , but it would redirect to ?
    3. Show an English version, but notify the user that a localized version exists.

    What solution would you recommend?
  • Federico Sasso: I'm not sure I understand why on option 2. you'd need an /en version, didn't you say the English version is the root? You could redirect to a localized page (based on accept-language or IP) with a 302 only if it matches a localized version. Keep in mind most of the times search bots don't sport a HTTP accept-language header. You can recognize a user visiting the English (root) page not to be redirect if it's HTTP requests have an internal HTTP referrer URL, or an active session cookie (it would mean the user has visited other pages, and simply clicked back/to to the home page).

    Personally I'm not a big fun of language based (or IP based) redirects:
    the language set in the browser very often is not the one preferred by the human behind it. For example, when the language set is en-US, according to data I have (sorry, cannot disclose it, but trust me it's a very large data set) only one out of three the visitor is actually from the US, most of the times it's not even from an English speaking country. IP based redirection is quite faulty too: user can be travelling abroad, or using a corporate network spanning several countries... I prefer letting the the user choose, and possibly save a preference.

    Picking one of the options you stated, I'd recommend #3
  • Dave Elliott: yeah i'm with frederico in the most part. Most people( i also have access to some large data sets) don't bother setting their language properly on the browsers so diverting based on that is a no go!

    Disagree with IP though, this more often works perfectly, you just need to give the option to chage languages as well. That said ip fowarding gets expensive fairly quickly and is a lot of hassle to set up so I wouldn't do it!

    I'd go with three as well. You may want to consider how you market your addresses in the localised regions. e.g. for german users will you give them the address or will your literature give it as which then fowards and is canonicalised to the correct sub folder.... there are negatives to both.
    
  • Edwin Jonk: From the expert panel in this week's SEO Questions hangout on air on 00:12:32 into the YouTube video:

    If our assistance with this issue was useful to you, please consider sharing your success story so that others might benefit.
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  • Mateusz Mucha:  ;On option 2 I'd need a redirect because otherwise when the user comes to I won't be able to know whether he comes "to see the site" (and would probably like to see a localized version) or he came to see the English version.  ;So I would always redirect to (most often "en").  ;But then every single request to the root would be redirected... is it unhealthy as far as PageRank is concerned?  ;

    BTW, it's highly probable that a vast majority of the traffic will come from Google to deep pages, so PageRank optimization is more important than small UX issues on the front page.
  • Federico Sasso:  ;about the issue to distinguish whether visitor "came to see the site" or see the English version, I suggested solutions using referrer or cookies (i.e.if she/he is coming from an internal link, do not redirect; if has a non-english locale setting and comes from outside and doesn't have a preference cookie, redirect). As I said I prefer not using redirects, but when customer wants them, that's how I implement it (and handle the case of locale not set: normally as English, but could also be the most common language for the site audience).

    Regarding the PageRank flow to the Home Page coming from external links:

    + if you kept English for the root and treated SE requests (usually missing accept-language) as English preference, a search bot wouldn't see the 302 redirect and PR would flow as normal.

    + if you implement a 302 redirect for all languages, English included, well... interesting question (I'd be interested in panelists' opinions). It actually is a pretty common case. If I'm correct Google recently stated (sorry, cannot find link, I believe it was JM on a webmaster hangout) in some cases 302s do pass PR and this may be one of those cases.

    A few years ago I tried to investigate the scenario without definitive conclusions. Big sites (I remember xbox) did things like that and appeared not to suffer, but of course they get tonnes of links, also to localized home pages; smaller sites didn't seem to fare too well to me, but again: toolbar rank was too much an approximate and out of date measure.
    These reasonings made me always prefer - when I could choose - to keep a language for the root version (and possibly avoid redirects). Better UX in my humble opinion. Also, when the main language even happen to be the preferred by the majority of the visitors, a better response time for the majority of home page visitors.

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, January 7, 2016).

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