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If you are expanding to a multilingual site and targeting multiple geographic regions, this is the guide for you.

International SEO is constantly changing, and it is well worth keeping yourself updated and in the know to get the best results from your website.

With that in mind we will give you an outline of what multilingual and multiregional SEO mean, and what impact they can have on your site. In addition, we will list some areas to begin with to kick start your international SEO campaign.

What is multilingual SEO?

This is where you are offering your site content in more than one language, this might be your whole site, or it might be some pages. Properly translated and local sites have a somewhat unknown advantage. It has been shown that the majority of users feel that having information in their own language is more important than a low price.

What is multiregional SEO?

Multiregional SEO enables targeting content to separate regions or countries. Content on a website may be tailored for specific geographic locations. This might be because there is a local or a specific dialect translated on web pages.

For example: An English language school in Cambridge might geo-target students in South America, therefore pages in different dialects are appropriate for different regions, both a language and geo-targeting should be specified for these pages.

These two strategies work hand in hand with one another, and because no business or website is the same, an SEO strategy will include different amounts of each.

Our international SEO checklist:


For best results generate different content for each group of users. Use properly translated text too, using google translate can procure different and unreliable results, so it is worth investing in quality translations.


Use the same language throughout the page, translating only the main page content and leaving another language in footers or navigation bars will be less effective, this sends mixed messages to Google. Consider: title, description, keywords, H1, H2 copy, images, products and internal linking, ideally these should all vary depending on your language.

Server location

Server location may be a factor in determining target countries, but this is not used as much as it historically has been. Google will only rely on this as a signal if other more prevalent signals are lacking.

Target language and region

Specify regional landing pages with rel=”alternate” hreflang annotation e.g. targeting French speaking users in Canada. This allows specific language and geographic region. Google uses this to know which landing pages to show to which users in what region. See the support article on this.

Visitors from… other places

Use x- default hreflang attribute to specify a landing page for your users that visit from outside of your country specifications.


Select countries to target with the ‘set geographic target’ tool in Google Console. This allows sites with gTLDs to target specific countries. Although Google points out that if the same pages on your website target multiple countries this might not be the best option, in this case there is the possibility that your targeting settings could limit your reach.

Choose the right URL structure for your website

Should you decide to expand your website, the best place to start your SEO strategy is with its URL structure. Although Google can read a lot from a page’s content, it’s best to segment your pages clearly. Best practice is to map out where you are geo-targeting before you even start. So what kind of URL structure should you be working with?

ccTLDs (country specific)
e.g. example.de, example.fr
  • clear geo-targeting
  • server location is irrelevant
  • easy separation of sites
  • legal requirements (sometimes)
  • expensive + availability
  • more infrastructure
  • ccTLD requirements (sometimes)
Subdomains with gTLDs
e.g. de.site.com, fr.site.com
  • easy to set up
  • can use webmaster tools geo-targeting
  • allows different server locations
  • easy separation of sites
  • users might not recognise geo-targeting from the URL alone (“de” language or country)
Subdirectories with gTLDs
e.g. site.com/de/, site.com/fr/
  • easy to set up
  • can user webmaster tools geo-targeting
  • low maintenance (same host)
  • users might not recognise geo-targeting from the URL alone (“de” language or country)
  • single server location
  • separation of sites harder
URL Parameterse.g. site.com?loc=de, ?country=france
  • not recommended
  • segmentation based on the URL is difficult
  • users might not recognise geo-targeting from the URL alone
  • geo-targeting in webmaster tools is not possible

Information from Google

International SEO strategy is no walk in the park, but is a worthwhile investment if you want your website to be successful.