How to Choose a URL Structure for Success in International SEO

If you're looking to expand your business beyond the borders of your home country, you need to ensure that your SEO strategy reflects your international ambitions. A well-planned international SEO strategy can be a valuable source of traffic, leads, and conversions for businesses with the ability to target multiple languages or countries. However, choosing the wrong URL structure when building an international website can severely undermine your SEO efforts. If you're not familiar with the URL structures or SEO, consider hiring an experienced SEO consultant or web design company for the job.

This article will outline the various options for structuring URLs on an international site and help you understand which one fits your broader SEO strategy.


Subdomains

A subdomain is an extension of a primary domain that allows you to create a separate website within the larger one. A good example of this is the BBC News website with the following URL structure:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world

http://www.bbc.com/news/world/africa

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world/africa

As you can see, this structure is nothing more than a subfolder used as a language identifier (UK English in this case). It tells search engines that all these pages are part of the same website and should be treated as. It also makes sense when each country or region needs its own version of the same site because of cultural differences in language, currency, content, or functionality.


Pros:

Better flexibility and customization

Consistent user experience across different languages/countries

Easiest to implement; requires no changes to the internal linking structure or server configuration


Cons:

More complicated setup and management

Site architecture must be duplicated on each subdomain (often resulting in large amounts of duplicate content)


Subfolders/Subcategories

A subfolder is a directory on a web server that contains additional pages and country-specific content within an existing domain and parent directory. Subdirectories are the way to go when you have multiple languages or languages and dialects that can't be folded into a single ccTLD or subdomain structure. In this case, yourdomain/fr/ would serve French content, while yourdomain/ca/fr/ would serve Canadian French content.


Pros:

Easy to implement

Consistent branding


Cons:

More domain authority is required to rank well in search engines

Modified hosting could be necessary to support multiple languages or countries


ccTLD

ccTLDs stand for country code top-level domains, which allow you to use a domain extension that corresponds to the language or location of your business. For example, yourdomain.co.uk would be used for users in the UK and yourdomain.de for Germany. 


Pros:

True Geo-targeting

Attracts local markets and customers

Better CTR for each market


Cons:

Doesn't scale well if you want to target multiple languages within a country.

Require multiple domains, thereby increasing costs

You need to develop and maintain separate websites 


Which URL Structure is Right for You?

If you're going to keep all your localized sites on a single domain, use subdirectories. This option is more cost-effective than a ccTLD (because you don't need to buy domains).

If your site is already established and you are looking to expand into new countries, it is best to use ccTLDs. However, if you don't have the budget to purchase ccTLDs, subdomains are the next best option.

When localizing your website using subdomains, make sure they're clearly labeled as language-specific, like www.es.example.com.

Searching for a professional SEO consultant software development company in London that can help you design your international SEO strategy? Look no further than Larasoft. Call us at +44 (0)207 1015034.


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