Worldwide area buildings and web optimization: what works greatest?


Companies with a number of web sites throughout totally different international locations have quite a few selections to make on how they construction their numerous websites.Ā 

However what are the benefits and downsides of every?

On this publish we’ll take a look at the totally different approaches utilizing chosen main companies to indicate what sort of area construction technique they use throughout their household of worldwide websites.

Totally different area constructions

There are broadly 4 doable approaches:

Some websites will use a mixture of these constructions. For instance, ASOS and Airbnb each use a mixture of TLD and sub-domain construction.

There are potential drawbacks to every, which we’ll take a look at in additional element.

Worldwide subdomain construction: threat of sub-domain cannibalisation

A sub-domain construction for worldwide websites is sensible from an organisational perspective, as you can provide autonomy to nationwide departments simply, or have a extra central governance.

Nonetheless, the sub-domain then has to take totally different languages into consideration and this may trigger issues.

ASOS:Ā US vs UK sub-domains:

As we have explored beforehand, there is a threat of sub-domain cannibalisation with this method.

It’s because Google will usually solely function one sub-domain from the identical web site within the SERPs per time period, even when they provide completely different content material.

So, within the instance above we will see the ASOS US sub-domain (yellow line) battling with the principle area for the time period ‘coats for ladies’.

This sub-domain web page is optimised for a US viewers with costs in dollars, and is the one ASOS would wish to current to searchers.


Nonetheless, the battle between domains means a proportion of site visitors goes to the ‘flawed’ web page.

The identical downside applies to Tommy Hilfiger’s web site. Right here, in outcomes for Google UK, the UK area has been outmoded by its US counterpart for months at a time.

Tommy Hilfiger US vs UK sub-domains:

Separate language / location sub-directories: danger of inside cannibalisation

Nike opts for the method of a single web site with completely different sub-directories for areas and languages.

This construction ought to work properly for a centralised firm like Nike which might supply comparable content material throughout its areas.

Nonetheless, this additionally presents the issue of inside cannibalisation as completely different touchdown pages can compete in opposition to one another.

The chart under reveals the issues Nike had in getting the proper web page to rank within the UK SERPs.

Nike sub-directories:


Within the 5 month interval proven right here, the area (yellow line) has solely ranked for a fraction of the time within the UK, which means that guests are being despatched to the ‘mistaken’ web page as a rule.

The identical is true of Ted Baker right here. The pink line is the web page that ought to rank on Google US however the UK website is extra outstanding.

Ted BakerĀ sub-directories:

Totally different TLDS / names: threat of semantic flux

When you’ve got a comparatively decentralised enterprise, then separate domains is usually a good possibility. There are drawbacks although.

For one, buying the identical identify throughout completely different territories is not essentially straightforward to do. For instance, if an organization was arrange in Europe then its prone to have a .com deal with. This implies the identify must be modified for the US market e.g. /

Semantic flux happens when two or extra interrelated domains coexist within the SERPs for a similar search time period, and Google fails to distinguish between them attributable to duplicate theming.

Google sees comparable content material and pits them one another; treating them as the identical area and giving positions to simply one by one.

That is what is occurring with Airbnb. It has a .com and a website however the content material is nearly an identical. This implies, as within the instance under, the US and UK pages compete with one another.

Airbnb TLD technique:

Sta journey TLD technique:

Like Airbnb, Sta Journey has totally different domains for every nation, however the content material is analogous.

That is the US web page for ‘low-cost flights buenos aires’. The UK page is, other than foreign money and telephone numbers, the identical:

This causes issues when Google is deciding on the suitable web page to rank. Right here, it will get it proper extra usually that not for Google US.

The yellow line is the .com web page, which Sta Journey will need to rank right here. Nonetheless, the UK web page nonetheless causes some battle.

So what’s the greatest answer? Is there one?

That is removed from simple because the examples have proven. There are potential drawbacks with every method.

In accordance with Sam Silverwood-Cope from PI-Datametrics, the sub-directory choice has essentially the most professionals:

“Iā€™d suggest for any company that the best set-up is the folders, directory set-up. I like the folder because for SEO reasons it should be more simple to manage. However, as with Nike, there are all sorts of issues that can occur with that in terms of cannibalisation and users from different markets ending up on the wrong language page.

Many more cannibalisation and other issues can more easily occur across multiple sites so a single site can be the best option.”

There are professionals and cons with every strategy and far has to do with the way in which through which the technique is applied. For instance, Sta Journey could also be proper to make use of the separate domains technique however by utilizing just about the identical content material on the pages it undermines its personal search visibility.

We might additionally take a look at Google right here: is it doing sufficient to floor the proper pages? Ought to it at all times index the pages on any Google UK seek for instance? In spite of everything, that is the web page that’s most related for UK customers.

In regards to the creator

Graham CharltonĀ Editor in Chief, ClickZ World

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at ClickZ International. Beforehand he labored as Editor in Chief at Econsultancy. He has written a number of greatest