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Setting up multiple versions of your site in different countries.

Customising your site for different countries is sometimes a necessity. 

Specifically you may offer different services, sell different products or have a different message for customers in different countries.

You may also want to redirect users from specific countries to the correct version of your site.

Considerations:

  1. You will most likely want to have separate addresses for each country (note this can have SEO implications – see below).  This might be domain or url based:

    Domain Based
    www.yourcompany.com.au(Australia)
    www.yourcompany.co.nz (NZ)
    www.yourcompany.co.uk  (UK)

    URL Based
    www.yourcompany.com/au
    www.yourcompany.com/nz
    www.yourcompany.com/uk
     
  2. You will also want to decide, if you want to redirect users from one site to another (lets say someone hits the Australian site, from a UK connection, do you want to redirect them?).   This also can have SEO implications.
     
  3. If you are selling products online – do you want to charge in different countries (e.g US customers get charged in US dollars, UK users get charged in Pounds?).   

    Things to keep in mind
    1. This may involve setting up a separate merchant account.  
    2. You will need to think about warehousing / stock control.
    3. You will need to think about shipping / courier options.

SEO Considerations:

  1. Having exactly the same content on multiple websites is frowned upon by Google. Specifically having duplicate content on multiple sites can have a negative impact in the search Results.

    So you should: Make sure your content on your regional sites is different (e.g don’t use the same product descriptions on the Australian site and the UK site).  Also pay special attention to “user experience” (e.g is there a local number users can call?) 
     
  2. Technical things your web developer can do:
    1. You can setup a “rel="alternate" hreflang tag -   This is a “signal” to Google clarifying which site is right for what language, or for what country.  Note this is a “signal” only.  Google (or other major search engines) may choose to ignore this.
    2. Consider using Canonical URLs.  This is especially important if your content across multiple sites is very similar.
    3. Consider using Geotaregting in “google webmaster tools”. This will allow you to target a specific domain or sub-domain to a particular country (note you can only target one domain / sub-domain to one country).
       
  3. Redirection of users.  Forcing users to the correct version of your site, it a common practice (e.g you don’t want UK customers seeing “Australian” pricing).   However how does this effect Google’s ability to crawl.  From Google:

    As we have always recommended, when Googlebot appears to come from a certain country, treat it like you would treat any other user from that country. This means that if you block USA-based users from accessing your content, but allow visitors from Australia to see it, your server should block a Googlebot that appears to be coming from the USA, but allow access to a Googlebot that appears to come from Australia.

    Googlebot uses well-established IP addresses that appear to come from the United States. With geo-distributed crawling, Googlebot can now use IP addresses that appear to come from other countries, such as Australia.
    https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6144055?hl=en

Summary

In short setting up multiple sites for multiple countries is something that is achievable, however you need to consider the

  1. technical aspects (such as merchant accounts and SEO impacts),
  2. user experience
  3. maintenance time (e.g keeping multiple sites up to date)
  4. possible additional hosting bills