Monday, May 10, 2010

SEO v Localization

I've been working on the localization for a new site.

The design I want to use allows the user to select a language. The program would then display the pages for the rest of the session in the user's chosen language.

I like the way the way user specific localization works.

The problem is that the googlebot balks at websites that show different content for different users. When the googlebot balks at a site, the site doesn't get included in the search engines.

Despite the fact that I think customized websites provide a superior user experience, I decided to shelve the design I prefer and create a segregated web site with different directories for each language. There will be an "/en" directory with English, an "/fr" directory for French, an "/fa" directory for Persian, and so on.

I dislike how I have to shelve dynamic design to keep favor with the search engines.

Anyway, for the last couple days, I've spent time trolling the net to see how other web sites handle the localization challenge. To my disappointment, I've discovered most companies seem to be going with monolingual designs.

Even companies that pride themselves on hiring bilingual customer service reps seem to go with monolingual websites.

I thought the opposite would happen. I thought that content hungry web designers would be jamming out poorly translated multilingual pages as search engines are likely to count poorly translated multilingual pages as original content.

As for my specific effort, I am discovering that several of the programs I use have a poor implementation of UTF8 that's causing encoding errors. Perhaps web designers have found the goal of localization too big a hassle and have simply taken to the easier route of designing a different site for each language.

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