Making sense of geography’s role in how the Internet is built and used has always been a challenge. Top tech companies have regularly struggled with the concept of connecting attributes from the physical world effectively to the web. Even giants like Apple have faced numerous obstacles in their pursuit of understanding the physical world (Apple CEO, Tim Cook, even published a letter informing users that their Maps app is still a work-in-progress). These challenges are especially important for SEO, considering that many URLs and other SEO factors are impacted by geographic components.
Google, as you may expect, is leading the way once again. The search giant has made large strides in localizing search results over the last few years. In January 2015, Google took the next step by supporting locale-adaptive web pages. Locale-adaptive web pages automatically change content based on your IP address (effectively telling your browser your location). Prior to recent updates, Google crawlers were only able to see the English version of locale-adaptive pages.
Below is an interactive infographic demonstrating the disparity between the languages used in website content compared to the languages used be website users.
Click the radials to see the difference!
Now, just by using a simple meta tag, webmasters are able to direct users to pages best suited for them based on language and/or location without worrying about SEO implications. Although Google never “punished” websites for using alternative language annotations (a meta tag defining the page for alternative language pages), they never really supported it, either. Google will now be able to properly crawl and index alternative versions of web pages based on language and geography.
For businesses with an international web presence, this is a monumental opportunity. Search engines are adapting to locale-adaptive websites, so presetting content curated based on the user’s location and language has never been easier. Learn more about how Google is improving search results through geo-distributed crawling and language-dependent crawling.
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