12 December 2011

In 2010, Google launched meta tags for sites where a multiple lamguages "template (i.e., side navigation, footer) is machine-translated into various languages but the "main content remains Unaltered), creating largely duplicate pages." This week they have gone a step further and now include the ability to distinguish between regions that speak essentially, the same language with slight differences.

Like the canonical tag, the implementation falls on the website owners to do, in order to get "support for multiple languages content with better treatment for these two scenarios:

• Multi-regional websites using considerably the same content. Example: English webpages for Australia, Canada and USA, differing only in price.

• Multi-regional websites using fully interpret content, or substantially different multilingual content targeting different regions. Example: a product webpage in German, English and French.

This tagging is fascinating and advice's Google knows when the content on a site is replicate despite it being in a different language. Has their data storage the ability to translate, or just recognize words that are used in the same language but are regionally different? If I use "biscuit" on my UK or Australian sites in place of "cookies", does Google know they are the same word?

"If you specify a regional subtag, we'll assume that you want to target that region," Google tells us. Is replicate content now being measured for same terms? Or are the tags a way to have website owners limit the pages Google index for regional areas? We add the tags and Google thins the pages we have showing in the SERPs for different regions?

Google shared some example URLs 

 • http://www.example.com/ - contains the general homepage of a website, in Spanish • http://es-es.example.com/ - the version for users in Spain, in Spanish

• http://es-mx.example.com/ - the version for users in Mexico, in Spanish

• http://en.example.com/ - the generic English language version On these pages, you can use this markup to particular language and region (optional):

 • [link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="http://www.example.com/" /] • [link rel="alternate" hreflang="es-ES" href="http://es-es.example.com/" /]

 • [link rel="alternate" hreflang="es-MX" href="http://es-mx.example.com/" /]

• [link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://en.example.com/" /]

 Seems like many wouldn't bother installing the tags unless Google was to start sinking pages, or if the effectuation helps better regional rankings for the pages where publishers have gone that extra step and customized their content to specific regions and subtle language differences.

In 2006, the W3 organization talk about and has it in its links in HTML documents list. This addition in to the head tag information seems to be a new twist. How Google uses the information for ranking will really determine if people will use it.