Multilingual eCommerce (in Europe) - Best setup?

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Does anyone have experience with setting up a multilingual eCommerce site? I'm trying to figure out the best setup.

I'm in Europe, so to increase the potential market, I'd like to make my site in several languages (at the bare minimum, in my local language + English). But I'm not sure what the best method is for SEO + UX.

The most common method seems to be to have one default language with a normal url structure (site.com/product, site.com/cart) and then other languages prefixed like so: site.com/en/product, site.com/en/cart.
 
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I've worked on a few sites like this in the past. Generally, we've seen the best results with the folder structure you highlighted with each country/language in its own folder. For example:

site.com - basic homepage with a country selector
site.com/uk/ - Ecomm homepage for UK
site.com/uk/product/ - Product landing page for UK
site.com/de/ - Ecomm homepage for Germany

Subdomain variations can also work (uk.site.com, de.site.com etc) but I've typically seen better results with the folder setup.

hreflang tags are also really valuable when you're building similar pages in other languages. Just helps Google get things right. Ahrefs have a decent guide here.
 

bernard

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A .com domain with subfolders is the way to go probably, but I'm sure that you will find higher conversion rates and SEO success if you actually went and got local domain names. These things matter more in some countries like Scandinavia, where there is a rather strong anti-amazon etc movement.
 
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I think the choice between .com folders and local domain depends very much on if you can make the separate domain stand on its own as well as how strong the initial domain is and how competitive the main .com market is.

Diluting a weak .com site with multiple new language folders isn't going to do anyone any good. On the other hand, if you have no idea about the culture, market or language of the new countries and are just using automatic translation, then the country domains are never going to get decent traction.
 
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I've worked on a few sites like this in the past. Generally, we've seen the best results with the folder structure you highlighted with each country/language in its own folder. For example:

site.com - basic homepage with a country selector
site.com/uk/ - Ecomm homepage for UK
site.com/uk/product/ - Product landing page for UK
site.com/de/ - Ecomm homepage for Germany

Subdomain variations can also work (uk.site.com, de.site.com etc) but I've typically seen better results with the folder setup.

hreflang tags are also really valuable when you're building similar pages in other languages. Just helps Google get things right. Ahrefs have a decent guide here.

Would you recommend setting it up by country or would by language also work? So using /en/ and /de/ to target multiple countries, instead of making /uk/, /be/, /dk/, /at/ etc. I'm just one person selling one product (for now), so it's not a like a big ecommerce operation that will physically expand to those countries.
 
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Would you recommend setting it up by country or would by language also work? So using /en/ and /de/ to target multiple countries, instead of making /uk/, /be/, /dk/, /at/ etc. I'm just one person selling one product (for now), so it's not a like a big ecommerce operation that will physically expand to those countries.

If it's just a straightforward site then targeting by language should be fine. If it's EU then there shouldn't be an issue with targeting countries with different currencies etc.

On a more complex site, or in an ideal world in terms of resource/money, you'd want to target a country AND a language with each page. This can be more of a concern in Europe than elsewhere, with countries having more than one language spoken. This is where URL structure and hreflang markup come in handy.

Using the French language as an example, it's also spoken in Switzerland and Belgium by a decent proportion of the population. With hreflang, you can target searchers using a specific language in a specific country.

site.com/fr-fr/ - This page is for French language speakers in France
site.com/fr-be/ - This page is for French language speakers in Belgium
site.com/fr-ch/ - This page is for French language speakers in Switzerland

You can end up down a real rabbit hole with this stuff. Sticking to a language per page/folder as you suggested will probably be the easiest solution for your situation.
 
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If it's just a straightforward site then targeting by language should be fine. If it's EU then there shouldn't be an issue with targeting countries with different currencies etc.

On a more complex site, or in an ideal world in terms of resource/money, you'd want to target a country AND a language with each page. This can be more of a concern in Europe than elsewhere, with countries having more than one language spoken. This is where URL structure and hreflang markup come in handy.

Using the French language as an example, it's also spoken in Switzerland and Belgium by a decent proportion of the population. With hreflang, you can target searchers using a specific language in a specific country.

site.com/fr-fr/ - This page is for French language speakers in France
site.com/fr-be/ - This page is for French language speakers in Belgium
site.com/fr-ch/ - This page is for French language speakers in Switzerland

You can end up down a real rabbit hole with this stuff. Sticking to a language per page/folder as you suggested will probably be the easiest solution for your situation.

Yup. In an ideal world, you would want to localize your internationalization for every regional dialect. For example, LATAM Spanish is a little bit different than Spain Spanish. Therefore, you'll need 2 URLs to target the LATAM variation of a query and the Spain variation of a query. Google does recognize the regional differences between the two queries; therefore, you should have 2 separate URLs targeting each regional variation.

If you're just a 1 man shop and are trying to target neighboring countries in the EU, go with subfolders. It's easier to setup than subdomains. I wouldn't go as far as ccTLDs as then you gotta do link building to multiple sites.

Also, ditto on setting the href langauge tag for the page. It's quite easy for an algorithm to mistaken German for Dutch or Russian for Ukranian.
 
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And also, since you are asking these questions for country targeting:

NEVER use country flags to signify languages or you will potentially piss off Swiss (three out of four kinds there!), Belgians, Austrians, Brits, Canadians, South Africans and plenty of other people we don't have space to mention
NEVER use browser settings or user location to force a language or else you will piss off people like me (who speak different languages and do not live in the country of their birth) so much that they will buy a competitor's product deliberately over yours. Give people a clearly-indicated choice - it's amazing how many websites don't.