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Multilingual content is key for transforming your international SEO approach. Well-optimized multilingual content can drive leads, tap into new markets, and revitalize a business’s potential. However, the wrong approach will damage your ranking due to duplicate content.

Google and other search engines might mark your content as redundant if it’s identical even in multiple languages. Since duplicate content can bring down your overall rankings by confusing search engines, you need to find ways to avoid having your pages marked as redundant.

avoiding duplicate content on multilingual websites, mirror

Of course your translated content is not a duplicate—it’s in another language. But if search engines misidentify various translated pages as redundant content, your SEO ranking will be harmed. In this article we explain how to avoid the dreaded “duplicate content” label for multilingual websites.

Here, we’ll explore the challenges of optimizing multilingual content and explain strategies for avoiding a dreaded duplicate status.

The Challenges of Creating Multilingual Content

Every business these days needs a web presence. Regardless of your business model, consumers are increasingly turning to smart devices for information and solutions. You’ll be at a loss without a digital strategy that considers SEO. Search engine optimization is the process of streamlining your platform for success when it comes to popular web crawlers. Since mostly this means Google, you’ll need to pay close attention to how Google ranks content.

A wide variety of factors play into how your sites will show up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Among the important metrics to keep in mind are page load speed and site navigability.

Most business websites also incorporate a blog as a space for connecting with customers and peers while providing informative content. But blogs tend to run into even more problems when it comes to translating content into multiple languages for a multi-ethnic or international audience.

Managing multilingual content can be particularly difficult. After all, you’ll need to overcome obstacles like the following:

  • Handling user-generated content
  • Creating effective, translatable content
  • Avoiding duplicate content

This last requires precise action on your part if you hope to avoid getting your SEO rank nerfed by Google. Without the right designation, the search engine giant just might cut you down because it reads your translated content as duplicate content. Duplicate content is bad because, to Google, it looks like the mark of unprofessional or malicious publishers who might be trying to cheat the system with some black-hat SEO practices.

duplicate content harms SEO

Duplicate content can be the mark of a black hat SEO practitioner.

To mitigate any negative impact this might have in your SEO endeavors, you’ll need strategies that guarantee accessible multilingual content without appearing to offer duplicate content.

Strategies for Avoiding Duplicate Content

But how can you go about ensuring that your websites don’t get punished for duplicate content just because they’re multilingual?

The answer to this question is constantly evolving. Google changes its search algorithm all the time, but the search engine has also developed useful qualifiers to help you avoid problems. Meanwhile, web-hosting and HTML tricks can all come in handy.

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For a living, an adaptable SEO strategy that continuously avoids problems, you’ll likely need the help of an expert marketing manager, trained in everything from managing campaigns to adjusting with advancing tech and policies. But if you have to go it alone, you can apply these solutions to duplication problems for your multilingual web content:


  • Create a multilingual website. From the beginning of the web design phase, your website should indicate its multilingual nature through the architecture and analytics tools employed by the site. If no more than one region is referenced in the site code, your multilingual content is more likely to be flagged as redundant.
  • Use Hreflang tags. These tags are the snippets of HTML code that tell the search engine who your targeted viewers are. These codes indicate both language and region targeted. For example, if you want to target Spanish generally, you’ll use the code: hreflang="es" But if you want to target Spain you’d use: hreflang="es-es" Likewise Mexico would be: hreflang="es-mx"
  • Consider cross-domain alternatives. Another method of getting around the duplicate problem is to diversify your domains and subdirectories. Using various URL parameters to denote regional domains can work, while subdirectories with gTLDs are another effective method of organizing your multilingual content. Some of these methods of structuring the URL of a multilingual website are better than others.
  • Study other languages in keyword research. You’ll want an active and informed role of keyword research in all target languages to inform your marketing and SEO endeavors while avoiding duplicate content. This means employing or consulting with native or near-native speakers of other languages for their expertise.
  • Professionally translate all content. Similarly, a professional translator can help you avoid the many problems of automatic page translators and the duplicate tags that come with them. A professional can smooth syntax and meaning to match the intended message while proving to Google the redundant page isn’t redundant at all. However, this strategy can get expensive and difficult, especially if you’re hosting user-generated content.

With these strategies, though, you can build an effective approach to multilingual SEO that avoids the problem of duplicate content. Your efforts to be open, accessible, and multicultural should not be punished, so make sure these efforts are helping you instead of through the use of these best practices.

International SEO strategy

Make use of strategies such as setting up hreflang tags to avoid having search engines identify your translated pages as duplicate content.

Streamlining Your Multilingual SEO

An effective multilingual SEO strategy is within your grasp and budget. Whether you’re looking for the best URL structure for an international approach or you just need to avoid getting your multilingual content tagged for duplication, best practices like using Hreflang tags and consulting with professional translators are never a bad idea.

Find the right approach for your digital business model, and expand your audience. A whole world is out there, waiting for you.

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