You can choose different URL formats when building a multilingual website. Let´s group these into three different structures and examine advantages and disadvantages.
1. ccTLDs: Country Code top-level Domains
These are Internet top-level domains that are reserved for a geographical area.
- http://mywebsite.es (Spain)
- http://mywebsite.uk (United Kingdom)
- http://mywebsite.de (Germany)
- http://mywebsite.it (Italy)
Here you have a list of Country code top-level domains.
- It’s clear to the users living in the geographical country
- It’s clear for search engines what geographic area the site is intended to target
- Server location is not important (Search engines consider this in their geo-targeting algorithms )
- It’s more difficult to set up and more expensive than the other options
- Perhaps your domain is taken in another country
- Sometimes there might be legal requirements that have to be fulfilled to acquire certain ccTLD’s
- Different SEO strategies in each domain
Configure domains in a WordPress multilingual website:
- WordPress standalone installation: WPML plugin can serve different languages from different domains. However, some setup is required in your web hosting. Read this article.
- WordPress Multisite: It’s possible to achieve these kinds of URL for each language by using the popular Domain Mapping plugin. This plugin allows users of a WordPress Multisite network to map their website to another domain.
2. gTLDs: Subdomains with generic top-level domains
Generic top-level domain core group includes: .COM, ,ORG, .INFO, .NET, etc. When used with subdomains, this is one of the great choices in achieving proper geo-targeting for your multilingual WordPress site.
Examples with .COM:
Examples with .ORG:
- It’s a cheap option. You only need to buy one domain and renew every year
- There are hardly any restrictions
- Easy to use webmaster tools on each subdomain
- There is no URL modification necessary to avoid a possibility of conflicts between similar URL’s
- Unlike ccTLD’s, the user cannot easily recognize geo-targeting from the URL alone (is «es» the country or the language?).
Configure subdomains in a WordPress multilingual website:
- WordPress standalone installation: WPML and other translation plugins can serve different languages from different subdomains. Link: WPML: setting for languages in different domains
- WordPress Multisite: WordPress multisite architecture takes care of this URL structure perfectly and allows you to assign a subdomain for each new language you are creating. It’s easy to import a single website into an existing WordPress multisite using this kind of URL structure. Note that is only possible if you chose the subdomain URL structure during multisite installation.
3. gTLDs: Subdirectories with Generic top-level domains
In this case the languages appear to be in virtual subdirectories.
- Very easy to set up
- It’s a cheap option. Only one domain is maintained
- You can use webmaster tools for geo-targeting
- No restrictions on acquiring a name as with ccTLD’s
- A unique SEO strategy for one domain
- Users cannot easily recognize geo-targeting from URL
- Separation of sites is more difficult
Configure subdirectories in a WordPress multilingual website:
- WordPress standalone installation: All translation plugins allow configure easily subdirectories. See here the most important WordPress translation plugins.
- WordPress Multisite: WordPress multisite allows you to assign a subdirectory for each language you are creating. Note that is only possible if you chose the subdirectory URL structure during installation.
Do you use domain, subdomain or subdirectory in your WordPress website? Why?