Search Console Country Geotargeting and Hreflang

u/emd

Search Console Geotargeting

Hello,

I have a site that targets three different countries with content in English. There are subfolders for different countries:

www.website.com/us/
www.website.com/uk/
www.website.com/au/
The content is differentiated instead of being similar or "translated." For this reason, hreflang is not being used but just geotargeting in Search Console.

Each country subfolder has been set up as a separate profile in Search Console and appropriately targeted to the respective country in the International Targeting Report.

Except for the /us/ pages…

I'm aware that geotargeting doesn't remove pages from other country search results. However, I'm not quite sure how to target the US pages if I want those pages to rank anywhere and as the default if outside of GB and AU.

Should /us/ not be targeted at all in Search Console? Should it be set as "Unlisted?" Or would it actually be fine to target to US?

If targeted to US, would there be any impact to other markets like Canada? If left alone or targeted to "Unlisted," would there be any ranking impact in US search results?

Should /us/ homepage have an x-default tag if this is to be the fallback? There is no homepage with a global folder or off the root.

Thanks in advance for the help
18 💬🗨

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aguelmann
You do that with HREFLANG – even if the content is different, a homepage is a homepage and if you have more than one in different languages, you need to use HREFLANG to make this clear.

Then yes, you could mark the US pages with a X-default.

emd ✍️
Interesting. Thanks for the response.

I guess what is the purpose of Search Console geotargeting if not for different content targeted towards different countries?

My understanding is that hreflang is used for either translated content into different languages or for very similar content in the same language that may be slightly localised (spelling differences, etc.).

I'm dealing with only English content and much of it isn't always reciprocal across the subfolders.

Can x-default only be used if other hreflang tags are being used?

aguelmann
Good question about the x-default, I'm not sure – but yes, HREFLANG should be used even if you have minor differences within the same language, they mention this in particular here:

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/crawling/localized-versions
emd ✍️
Nice thanks.

I have a lot of pages that have more than minor content differences. The content is varied up quite a bit depending on the country's offering/service. But, there may be a few pages that slightly overlap which, yes, those would need hreflang.

I guess one other question would be: Can you do both geotargeting in Search Console AND have hreflang tags? I wouldn't think this would cause an issue. Geotargeting is a signal to Google about which content is relevant to which country audience, while hreflang swaps out the correct page for the correct audience. I could only see this being an issue if let's say I had french content for any french-speakers located throughout the world. But, I very clearly have same language content for different countries.
aguelmann
You should use only HREFLANG; the country targeting in Google Search Console (GSC) is for the whole domain which isn't your case:

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/crawling/managing-multi-regional-sites
emd ✍️
I believe you can geotarget individual subfolders in Search Console, no
aguelmann
Not according to their documentation
emd ✍️
In the chart it says this:

Subdirectories with gTLDexample.com/de/
👉 Easy to set up
👉 Can use Search Console geotargeting

This is their "Site-Level" recommendation:

Don't use this tool if your site targets more than a single country. For example, it would make sense to set the target as Canada for a site about restaurants in Montreal; it would not make sense to set the target as Canada if it also targets French speakers in France, Canada, and Mali.
aguelmann
Then it looks like yes, you can use both – personally I never had to use the geotargeting, HREFLANG was always enough and provides more control.
alexandrosdimo
Oh so you can create a US, CA, UK website that are all in English but have the hreflang tag and you should be okay in terms of duplicates?

I've been trying to figure out how to set up Canada and UK as distinct subdomains for my Shopify store for days now…
aguelmann
Yes you can – I'm not sure how/if you can do it on Shopify but yes.
alexandrosdimo
Found the answer thanks! https://www.Shopify.com/blog/Shopify-store-multiple-countries

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LibraCop
I am going to assume if someone goes to your website.com that they will redirect to website.com/us correct?

You can use x-default and a country/language under the same URL. John Mueller confirmed from a past conference https://www.searchviu.com/en/multiple-hreflang-tags-one-url/
so it can be

.com/us/ "x-default"

.com/us/ "en-us"

.com/uk/ "en-gb"

.com/au/ "en-au"

Geotargeting is just one of many signals that Google will use to determine what to rank/index in a region. Hreflang and localized content will most likely be the strongest.

I'd probably just leave it blank. To be honest I don't bother too much with the geotargeting, I'm much rather inclined to make sure my hreflangs are set up correctly and my content is localized to the region and using their "dialect" for lack of a better term

emd ✍️
Solid answer, thanks! Yep, root homepage always 301 redirects to /us/ regardless of location.
alexandrosdimo
Wait so adding a /ca/ or /uk/ subfolder that is English but targeting those locations won't really matter that much?

Like if my website is in the US and targets mostly English speakers, would setting up hreflang for en-ca en-gb not make a huge difference in ranking in those countries

LibraCop
The geolocation aspect is what I'm talking about. It's a signal but hreflangs and localized content are better signals

Do you have a reason to target uk and ca users? If so, use hreflangs tags. They help tell Google which page to show in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)…if your site ranks for "this term" in canada, then Google will understand there is a Canadian version of the page to show
alexandrosdimo
Yes. Our products are digital in the music industry for producers so I'm pushing to roll out the site globally.

I can set up languages with the translation app, I'm just not sure if I need to add the specific language to the language switcher, or just duplicate the website.

Basically I'm not exactly sure how to go about duplicating the entire site, moving it to a new subdomain, then adding the canonical tags. I have an idea, and I could probably get 80% of the way through, but I'm not sure of the minor details like…

I can set up the CNAME, but when doing so with Weglot I'm pointing the subdomain to their servers? I can set up a uk.site and ca.site but then how do I even duplicate the website to the new subdomain.

Also I decided to subdomain because when I did subfolders all of the hyperlinks pointed to the original language. Meaning es hyperlinks pointed back to en. Much easier dealing with subdomains where all the hyperlinks pointed back to the same subdomain. I spent 8 hours doing a search and replace for all the blog content. So annoying.

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henrykene
To make the /us/ pages to rank globally, do not set any geotargeting for the US sub domain ok.



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