The case discussed in this article illustrates what could happen when a local (region or subsidiary in a country) of a multi-national company (MNC) feels under-served by its parent’s internet marketing campaign when it sees that local website is ranked poorly in organic search.
A multi-regional website is one that targets users in various regions (generally different countries). Implementing websites for multiple regions (usually countries) presents several challenges from SEO perspective, chief being duplicate content and showing pages from correct version of website to visitor from a region.
The objective is to have one Web site for U.K. visitors, one site for Indian visitors, and another for U.S. visitors. The intention is to have each Web site ranking in one country, that is India site should be ranked for visitors in India. Given this objective, this is not a duplicate content scenario. The search engines should permit the intended behavior, since the web master is trying to offer a better experience for users through localization of the versions of the Web site.
The real challenge is a technical issue. Search engines use crawlers or spiders that index pages and rank websit. This process is prone to error.
There are several options to creating multiple versions of your website from a single root domain controlled by parent company for its subsidiaries in various regions.
Subdirectories with geographical TLDs
India website being example .com/in/
France site being example .com /fr/, and so on
The advantages are that is easy to set up and we can use Webmaster Tools for geo-targeting. The case gets complicated if for example the India site targets India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It is not possible to geo-target multiple countries for same folder.
Subdomains with gTLDs
e.g. : de.site.com, in.site.com, etc
The advantages of this approach that it is easy to set up, can use Webmaster Tools geo-targeting, each subdomain can be hosted in the target country,.
Geo-targeting in Webmaster Tools does not have the same impact that using country level TLD, such as site.co.in gives, particularly if the site is hosted in same country.
A local vendor is retained to do SEO for the local version of website of the subsidiary. The structure of multi-country website is, in normal practice, to set up one sub-domain or sub-folder for each country.
The challenges of SEO of single website version of a multi-regional site
– Duplication of content. Google will rank generally only single page in search results, quite likely from that of parent site – thus frustrating local SEO. Use of ‘rel=canonical’ does not help since each local unit/region wants page from local site/sub-folder/sub-domain as case may be, to rank high in search results
– IT division of parent company may not trust the local SEO vendor. Hence access to website to modify content may not be given to local unit.
Single Google Analytics account for whole web site would have been set up. To see reports of pages from folder, filter (Advanced Segments) has to be setup. Unfortunately at this point, there is no facility to create filter for the new seo reports (queries, landing pages from Google Webmaster account) within Google Analytics.
To ensure the success of SEO campaign for country website, following things must be ensured :
– Support of CIO of parent company
– Congruence or agreement on objectives of SEO by local vendor and the country-unit and parent company.
– Support of CEO or CIO of the country-unit
• Directory submissions : many directories do not accept sub-domains or sub-folder as url to be listed
• For B2B or technical products such as software, the same product is being offered in all countries and it is difficult to tailor content, beyond local variations in spelling, etc.