From single language to multi-language website

bernard

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I want to expand my website from focusing on one country and one language, to multiple countries and multiple languages.

To do this, I will need a new top level generic domain and I will need to move my existing site to this new site.

Sounds simple?

As I see it, the devil is in the detail!
  • Should I move the existing site first?
  • Should I translate and index the new sublanguages first?
  • Should I buy a new domain?
  • Should I buy an expired domain?
  • Should I buy an existing running domain in the business?
 

Ryuzaki

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I don't think you have to have a new top-level domain for Google to consider you for other countries. If you're worried about the users seeing the wrong country code that's one thing, but for SEO you'd be fine.

What you could do is fire up subdomains, add them to search console, and then set each one in search console as being geo-targeted for the countries you want. It might even just be broad areas like the EU, I can't exactly recall how granular the options are.

Then you could just hire someone to do translations for each and even use a different Wordpress install for each if you wanted for organization, and then work on them all through Wordpress Multisite. From there you can set up all the hreflang tags. Between that and the actual language on the page plus geo-targeting in search console, you should have no issues.

I don't think you're going to be happy about moving your existing site. Going from a geo-targeted extension to a general might not play as well as you expect.

If you're going to target countries all using the same languages then I'd just start with new domains with the proper ccTLD extensions.
 

bernard

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I don't think you're going to be happy about moving your existing site. Going from a geo-targeted extension to a general might not play as well as you expect.
I'm inclined to agree with you here.

I don't see a lot of generic domains in the SERPs here, the vast majority are local. My domain isn't actually geo-targeted though, the extension just plays well with the local language. Sort of like .tv would be practical for television related searches. I think Google might consider that domain extension as sort of local for a couple of countries as well.

I'm still a bit worried about going full generic.

As far as the subdomain thing goes, wouldn't that be weird, when you go into new languages? My domain name doesn't translate to German or English for example. I could use it for a few neighboring countries, though it wouldn't be strictly ideal. That would probably be the best choice though. Subdomains and doing the hreflang thing. Would allow me to get going with at least 1 new locale and possibly 2.

Hmm... decisions.
 
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I'm guessing you are talking about switching a country-level single language site (with language only relevant to one country) to a .com/.net/.org.

I'd agree with @Ryuzaki in that I wouldn't touch the original domain. What I might do is still buy the top-level domain and use it for the other languages and act as if it is all part of one site with relevant links.
Thus redwidgets.de would link to and support redwidgets.com with different directories for different languages. Of course, you would dilute the original domain slightly (by one link per language per page if you do traditional interior linking) but you would be doing that anyway plus having the potential risk of starting out on a new domain and losing all domain history. Since I'm a wuss I'd probably do one language at a time, pause and watch developments carefully before progressing with the next.
 

bernard

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What you could do is fire up subdomains, add them to search console, and then set each one in search console as being geo-targeted for the countries you want. It might even just be broad areas like the EU, I can't exactly recall how granular the options are.

Then you could just hire someone to do translations for each and even use a different Wordpress install for each if you wanted for organization, and then work on them all through Wordpress Multisite. From there you can set up all the hreflang tags. Between that and the actual language on the page plus geo-targeting in search console, you should have no issues.
Ok, I set up a subdomain and got the translations going.

Next, I'll add to Search Console and implement hreflang.

As I understand it, this is not going to pass any linkjuice or trust to the new pages, despite being linked by hreflang?

So I assume the best, and only thing, I can do here is to link each subpage to each corresponding subpage, using a nice little flag in the footer or bottom of article "Read this in other language" type?
 
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With the subdomain, do you mean something like
"eng.mywebsite.de" then?
For the English version, on a German website?

If so, for people worried about language issues happening in the future, it seems to be better to start with a .com and start with the language specific subdomain from the start.

"eng.mywebsite.com"
"se.mywebsite.com" etc.

Not sure if that's a good idea, but that's how I read the information above.
 

bernard

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I chose the subdomain option, but if I could choose over, I would go for the local domain.
 
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You would create multiple websites then?

mywebsite.de
mywebsite.fr
mywebsite.se

etc?

Same content, only translated? I'm not sure, but I would expect google to consider them separate websites with duplicate content. The multiple languages thing in SEO always confuses me.
So far I have stayed away from multiple languages, but I'm afraid the time is coming that I will no longer be able to avoid it.