Adding Languages Without Losing Page Ranking

The Internet reaches into all nations, so it’s not unusual for a company to decide that its website must target multiple languages to reach its proper market. But adding languages can bring with it the risk of losing your position in the search engines. One of our SEO Chat forum members posted a thread looking for ways to avoid this issue.

You can check out the full thread at the link. While we’ve already seen some replies, we’d love to see some more. So don’t be shy; join the conversation!

In the original post, cypher6x explains that the website he’s currently working on includes just one language and was built using CMS Made Simple. The company is planing to expand to three languages very soon, but doesn’t want to lose any ranking in the search engines; he’s concerned about this, because he fears they may have to change URLs.

The current URLs, he explained, look like domain.com/product.html. The new ones will look like domain.com/en/product.html and domain.com/ru/product.html. The new languages shouldn’t be an issue, according to cypher6x, but the company is worried about the existing English web pages losing ranking. He notes that their CMS is alias-based, so the new /en/ URL will work just fine, since pages are identified by the alias – “product,” in this case.

After presenting his situation and his concerns, cypher6x has three questions. First, has anyone done this before, and can they share their experience? Second, will the website’s pages lose their ranking on Google, as these pages and the canonical URL will have changed? Finally, is there an example .htaccess rule that can change the URL from old to new and issue a 301 redirect, so that Google knows it is the same page but a new URL?

As of this writing, one SEO Chat member proposed putting the following in the website’s htaccess:

Edit
RewriteRule ^product.htm$ http://www.domain.com/en/product.html [R=301,L]

He noted that this code will make sure that the website’s inbound links will go to the correct page, which this code will do. He also suggested that, since all languages except English are new, the company should only redirect the English pages.

After thanking him for the solution, cypher6x responded that it “would require us adding more rewrite rules than we would like.” His company has multiple products and general pages such as About Us and Contact Us, so that would have to go into tons of places. “We need a rule that will apply to all existing pages and add the /en/ if there is no identifiable language code already in the URL after the domain and TLD,” cyper6x explained.

Can you help him find a solution? Share your expertise in the thread. 

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