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If your businesses sells products or services in multiple countries you need to localise your website(s) for each country. Optimising these local versions presents specific challenges. We specialise in international SEO, advising brands on the best way to navigate the challenges of multi-language and multi-country SEO.

Explore our international SEO services

Why do we need multilingual SEO?

If your business trades in multiple languages or currencies, and your website(s) display content in multiple languages or in one language but for multiple currencies, you need multilingual SEO for the following reasons:

  1. Ensure search engine algorithms don’t ignore pages that seem to be duplicates of each other because they have the exact same content, with just minor changes in currency symbol and prices.
  2. Search engines show your customers the version of your website that is most relevant to them, based on their location and language settings.

Multilingual SEO allows efficient and effective transition into new markets, as well as adaptation to new cultures and languages. Businesses can use multilingual SEO to test the waters – analyse the return on investment in new countries and reactions of customers who live there – before investing heavily in advertising and building the brand.

Just as you use SEO to grow organic traffic in your home market, multilingual SEO is needed to make your site rank higher on organic search engine results, increase the prominence of your brand, and build relationships with other businesses and publishers in order to build popularity.

The Internet - Growth and Usage Graph

Dos and don’ts of multilingual SEO


  • Invest resources in technical SEO to ensure your language and country targeting – with hreflang – is accurate
  • Build local links from the websites in the country you are targeting
  • Conduct extensive research into the target country
  • Research competitors in that country
  • Separate your content that is targeted to different languages or different countries


  • Assume Google is the only search engine that people use. Nearly 1 billion people use search engines such as Baidu, Yandex and Naver
  • Use multiple languages on the same page
  • Assume that the same word in the same language means the same thing in different countries. (UK English, US English, Indian English)

Should multiple languages be hosted on the same domain?

Whether you host multiple languages or regional sites on the same domain or invest in country specific domains, your site can be optimised to rank appropriately, so long as you follow the search engine guidelines. The decision, therefore, boils down to business needs and resources.

The absolute best practice is to have country-coded top level domains (ccTLD) hosted in that specific country, with clearly targeted directories or subdomains for each language that is spoken in that country.

Although country-specific domains allow clear geo-targeting and easy separation of sites, they can be expensive to maintain, and might have limited availability. Country-specific domains also require more supporting infrastructure and investment in SEO. For instance, you would need to invest in link building for each domain.

Hosting multiple languages on the same domain makes setting up the website easier and needs less support than country-specific domains. Google’s official guidelines for multi-regional sites provide clear instructions to declare the the language and locale for each section of the site to search spiders.

Both options work well and are effective, therefore, it depends on the time and resources the business can invest. Working with an international SEO agency that can meet specific requirements can help ease the burden for in-house marketing teams.

Do US and UK versions of the site create duplicate content?

The short answer here is “yes”. If you do not change the content and simply alter prices and country-specific data, then your US pages could be perceived as mere duplicates of your UK pages, which may result in Google choosing to drop one and list only the UK or US page on the organic search engine listings.

However, there are ways to avoid this problem. The most obvious solution, of course, is to differentiate the content – write for your audience, provide different text, vary your blog posts and differentiate your products. Each market is interested in different content, therefore, it is important to create new content not only to avoid duplicates, but to engage each of your target markets specifically.

That being said, differentiating all your content isn’t always the most practical solution. In most situations, the simplest option is to either use a country-specific domain, sub-domain or directory and then declare the rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” tag.

International sub-directories or country-specific sub-domains?

This decision is down to the business’ specific requirements and resources. As with the issue of duplicate content, it is up to the webmaster to cater to their own needs.

We offer international SEO consulting as well as international growth strategy consulting for businesses faced with these sort of questions.

How to use hreflang to indicate language / region correctly for Google?

Multiple versions of a page for different regions, such as English pages for the UK, USA, and Canada, may be considered duplicates. The leading search engines recognise a special HTML tag called hreflang, which identifies different localised variations of the same page.

Using hreflang and other location and language indicators within the HTML header will help search engines like Google point users to the most appropriate version of your page by language or region.

Google might still deliver the correct language versions of your page, based on a user’s language and location browser settings, but it is usually best to explicitly indicate your language- or region-specific pages.