Googlebot now does even more legwork for webmasters
Google has now added support for web pages which dynamically change their content based on language settings / GEO IP origin.
Google has recently announced that their crawlers will now support locale-adaptive web pages and web pages that will change their content to suit the landing users location / language settings. Traditionally Googlebot would interpret a single version of a landing page and would see dynamically changing content as potential for abuse.
Now however, it is becoming clear with a growing worldwide commerce market that some websites will adapt landing page content to fit the users location / language settings. Most websites still use the traditional methods of re-direction to a domain to suit the location i.e. .CO.UK – UK, .FR – France, .COM – USA etc. Some websites retain a single domain and use sub-folders or sub-domains to ensure the website visitor lands on a version of the page / site that is relevant.
Although Google’s crawlers will now be able to interpret different landing page content depending on geo IP / language preference, they are still recommending that webmasters and developers utilise separate TLD’s or sub folders alongside the REL=Alternate HREFLANG attributes.
The increased capabilities of Googlebot are designed to make life easier, much like the introduction of the canonical tag which solved the problems some webmasters had when they could not use re-directions to solve duplicate / similar content issues. The added capability for Googlebot to differentiate copy based on location is designed to assist businesses where their website architecture may not have the flexibility to use multiple TLD’s or sub-folders.
For SEO compliance, many webmasters / SEO engineers would keep websites separated by TLD, but, on English websites with different TLD’s this often created issues with duplicate content. Now Googlebot can compensate websites which utilise a single TLD to serve pages with dynamically changing content. This content change is usually done via scripts which “sniff” or detect the browser agent, language configuration and GEO IP of the request to determine the visitors originating location.
For SEO purposes, we also advise commerce and general website owners to separate geo location targeting by TLD, simply because alternate versions of Google will favour a TLD if it utilises an extension relative to that country i.e. a .CO.UK would not make much sense in a French version of Google (Google.fr) even if the .CO.UK used adaptive content to suit French visitors.
GOOD CONFIGURATIONS INCLUDE:
- Use a native domain TLD i.e. Mywebsite.co.uk for the UK, Mywebsite.de for Germany etc.
- Implement HREFLANG attributes on websites with alternate language availability
Please note that the HREFLANG tag is a “Directive” and only advises on pages with content in a specified language.
With sub-folders or different TLD’s ensure you create the website in Google Webmaster Tools and set appropriate parameters in “International Targeting” under the Search Traffic option.
Google does not recommend using canonical tags for similar pages that utilise different languages or where HREFLANG tags are present.
We feel this move by Google to allow Googlebot to provide dynamic content based on user location is to further enhance user experience, which, is becoming more important for it’s ranking algorithm. Enhanced user experience leads to a better working web which is fundamentally what Google is about, serving high quality results.
If Googlebot can serve results which adapt to a users geo location it makes the landing page far more relevant, this is one of the key reasons why this has now been introduced. Because mobile technology is advancing rapidly, so is the technology to serve results of a much higher quality and more relevant nature.