Marketing 3 min read

Google Advises Site Owners to Limit Multi-Language Pages

Google warned site owners about excessive usage of multi-language pages, citing that doing so could cause more harm than good to their websites.

wan wei / Shutterstock.com

wan wei / Shutterstock.com

Google‘s webmaster and trend analyst, John Mueller cautions against creating too many multi-language pages, unless it’s necessary.

It began when a person logged into a thread in r/TechSEO on Reddit to seek help with hreflang.

The question reads:

I have an international site that I’m managing for a client that has pages being indexed for different languages. The problem is that some pages are still in English (ex: example.com/ru still has English content).

Since the X-default is English, there’s no need to have these other URLs, yet they are unfortunately being created and indexed as new content gets added, with the only difference being the URL.

Reading Google’s guidelines (if I understood correctly, which I may not have), they suggest blocking these URLs in the robots.txt file, but should these pages that are already indexed be removed, redirected, canonicalized, or noindexed? I’m stumped, so any help is appreciated.”

Here’s Mueller’s response.

Limit the Number of Multi-Language Pages On Your Site

First, Mueller stated a user should not block existing pages or disallowed them on robots.txt. That way, Google can still crawl and canonicalize them.

He admitted how easy it is for site owners to want to use hreflang. After all, being able to create a page for all languages could bring more traffic and more value.

And this could translate into a significant overhead — ranking, crawling, indexing, canonicalization, etc.

However, Mueller cautions against doing that. According to the Google webmaster, site owners should endeavor to limit their multi-language pages to the amount that’s necessary to achieve their goals.

Mueller explained:

“My recommendation would be first to limit the number of pages you create to those that are absolutely critical & valuable — maybe that already cuts the pages you’re thinking about. Think big here; if you’re talking about individual pages within a medium-sized site, it’s probably a non-issue. On the other hand, if you’re considering copying your whole site into 20 languages x 10 countries, that’s something else.”

As far as hreflang goes, Mueller suggests that site owners should focus first on the pages that are receiving wrong language traffic.

“Past that, for hreflang, I’d focus first on pages where you see wrong-language traffic.” He said.” Often these are pages that get a lot of global, branded queries, where it’s hard to determine which language content they want.”

Read More: Google’s Mueller Explains How to Use Headings for SEO

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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