Hi, I’m Chris, and today I’m going to be talking to you about how to avoid duplicate content issues across international sites. Since the most recent Panda updates, duplicate content has been ever more of an issue for most site owners across the Web. With businesses which sell their products and services across different top level domains to target different countries, this can be a bit of an issue as well when the same language is used for descriptions and for product names and things like that.
There’s a few things you can do, some sign posts, so to speak, which will actually highlight your specific target location to search engines. This should hopefully avoid any duplicate content issues where search engines will actually see that the content is duplicated. However, it’s there for the user, and it’s not to manipulate any kind of SEO.
The first thing that you should do, if possible, is make sure that your top level domain’s actually hosted on a server within the country that you’re targeting. Sometimes it isn’t possible if it’s a smallish business. However, if it is possible, I’d definitely recommend it.
Next thing to do, is make sure you make good use of the rel=”alternate” hreflang=”X” and then X being the country that you’re targeting. There’s a lot of information about this in the Webmaster Guidelines, and I definitely recommend you use that for every international derivation of your site, especially the same language pages. But you may as well keep the theme going throughout the rest of the site.
The next thing to do, a nice big manual change, is to go into Google Webmaster Tools and then into the Settings tab, and you can actually set your targets or your preference to a target location. This is a very obvious manual change that you’d have to make, so it’s very obvious to search engines that you are only targeting, with that top level domain, that specific country.
The next few things are on page, and where possible you should make sure that all the addresses on the site are within the local format or the local country. The next thing is to make sure all telephone numbers are in the local format. Also, if you do have to have any international numbers or anything like that to make sure that it’s very obvious that they’re the international ones. Again, prices, all prices should be in the local format so then it’s very obvious to a search engine that this is for that specific country.
To doubly check, make sure that all of this is fine, you should use Schema or a micro data format to mark up the structured data on the site so it’s very, very obvious there isn’t just an address, it is the address for the site. This will actually help come up in the rich snippets as well in the search results for those different top level domains.
The final thing is to make sure that you are getting all of the local profiles that you can do from those specific top level domains. Make sure you get your Google+ Local, Bing, and Yahoo, for example, local profiles for each one of the individual top level domains pointing to the correct one. This will, again, make it very obvious that you are specifically targeting a certain country.
Where it comes to a link profile, it’s very good and recommended that you get as many links as possible from the country that you’re targeting. Now arguably this is a lot easier than it used to be because years and years ago like last year when everybody was chucking links everywhere. That’s really not a good practice, and it’s definitely something that’s curbing now, especially with the Penguin update.
What I recommend you do is you spend a lot more time and care with your link profile, and if you do have different top level domains, you make sure that the linking that you do with link building is as targeted to that country as possible, whether it be a specific country that you’re targeting with your link building, or whether it be a very relevant to that country sort of site.
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