SEO for Sites in Various Countries/Languages (International SEO)

international seo

One of the most common dilemmas owners of successful sites face is how to expand their web businesses to different countries.

The most common questions are:

1. Is launching a site in a different country going to have any impact in my existing rankings?

2. Are there any duplicate content issues if all sites are going to be written in the same language (e.g a site for the UK and another one for the U.S or Australia)?

3. Does Google give more value to sites which site be hosted within the targeted country so they rank higher than if hosted elsewhere?

Pros of CCTLDs

  • If you purchase a Country Code Top Level Domain (CCTLD) such as because it is reserved for one country only (e.g for the UK, .de for Germany etc) Google will automatically know which country you are targeting.
  • With CCTLDs it is easier to target a national (or local) market and its people.

Cons of CCTLDs

  • Maintaining various sites under different CCTLDs requires a lot of resources. You will need to design, develop and maintain various sites
  • You will have to spend a considerable amount of time and money in SEO so they appear high in each country’s SERPs.

Pros of Subdomains

  • They are much cheaper than purchasing different domains and hosting various sites.

Cons of Sub-domains

  • Google treats them as different domains so you will need a lot of SEO time so they all rank well.

Pros of Sub-folders

  • Cheaper than CCTLDs. No extra costs for registering, hosting, building new site as everything can be accommodated by the existing (parent) site.
  • They inherit the domain authority of the main site. With adequate internal link building link juice can flow into the sub-folder’s pages.

Cons of Sub-folders

  • SEO necessary to link build to deep sub-folder pages.
  • No advantage from keywords in the domain name.

Other Issues To Consider:

Web Master Tools

It seems that the best solutions is the sub-folders one. But then you would need to take certain actions to maximise your benefits. In particular you need to log in Google Web Master Tools and do the following:

* Add a subfolder as a new site

* Set up geographic target for the site so Google will look at it as a different website

Web hosting

  • Hosting is becoming less and less important as a ranking factor. An IP address shows where the ISP is located not where your business is located.
  • Hosting location is only a suggestion to the search engines, a CCTLD is more powerful and will override this suggestion.


  • If you are targeting countries where the same language is used you don’t have to provide unique content. Google won’t see that as duplicate content as you have clearly specified through Webmaster Tools that you are targeting different countries.
  • It is much better for conversion and user engagement to write in the language of your visitors. Therefore, writing American English for the U.S and Mexican Spanish for Mexico is a must.

Modi is an SEO and web design consultant who is actively involved in the fashion industry, specializing in modeling agencies.

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6 thoughts on “SEO for Sites in Various Countries/Languages (International SEO)”

  1. I disagree on one Con of CCTLDs: You will need to design, develop and maintain various sites

    You can have one site that has a CMS with multi-language support, and then adding multiple CCTLDs to call up the appropriate language on your site is just a minor technical task.

  2. This is a tough one – and one that we loose a lot of hair over! From experience of using subfolders as a fix to a pre-existing bad TLD choice, it would have been much better to start over with CCTLDs and proper SEO investment.

    Good post though – lays out the options very clearly.


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