Duplicate content penalty for same content in different languages

Are you worried multi-language version of your website could invite duplicate content penalties from Google and other search engines? Read this article to learn how Google handles same content in different languages and learn the best way to publish your website in multiple languages.

I recently came across a question in a bloggers discussion group regarding potential duplicate content penalties for publishing a website in different languages with same content. Many bloggers have expressed their views on the same and many of them are conflicting.

Here is my views on the issue.

As long as you do a quality work and manual translation of the content, you can have same content in multiple languages. It will be definitely considered as duplicate content by Google and other search engines, but duplicate content is not always a sin. By providing the same content in different languages, you are definitely adding value to the web and Google respects that.

Whether Google could find it now or not doesn't really matter. In fact, it may take months or years before Google detect that you have the same content in different languages. What matters most is, whether you are breaking the rules or not. If you are breaking the rules and finding ways to hide the duplicate content from Google, you are always at the risk of getting penalized when you are caught. So, stay away attempting to trick Google.

Best way to use same content in different languages

I would suggest you have the same primary domain but use language based sub-domains. That way, you are telling Google explicitly that you are not cheating, instead, you are using the standard approach of providing the same content in multiple languages.

Wikipedia is a great example:


(They do not use exact same content, but I am referring to the sub-domain approach)

Now, if you translate your content manually or use a tool, if the content is EXACTLY the same, then it raises a red flag to Google. It would appear as AUTOMATIC content generation to Google. You may claim you translated it manually and it is not your fault that it looks very similar to what is generated by the automated tools, but there will be no one to listen to you. Your site could be penalised today, tomorrow or few years later.

Also See: What is negative SEO? How to protect your website from negative SEO?

What does Google say about duplicate content in multiple languages

If you want to hear it from horse's mouth, listen to this video:

Matt Cutts has made it clear that as long as you do a manual translation and the quality of the work is ensured by a human (and not full/partial automated translations), you are good to go.

So, when you translate, use people with local knowledge and translate it after taking the local culture into consideration. You may have to make some changes and tuning to the content to fit into the culture of each country/language. Also, that will ensure that Google will not consider it as automated content generation.

Couple of points to consider:

- There may be quotes from many great people in your content. When you translate to other languages, it will be better to use quotes from some great people in that culture (if it makes sense).

- If you refer to news and external articles in your content, find the best news and articles in that language when you translate and link to them.

- If you mention the price of some items, it will be a good idea to convert the amount in to the the primary currency in those regions.

- Do you have office address in your website? For each region, project the offices in that region as the primary contact address.

Article by Tony John
Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tripod.com. Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including IndiaStudyChannel.com, Techulator.com, dotnetspider.com and many more.

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