We recently published a webinar special, looking into the challenges with International SEO and how that impacts areas such as website structure, content and brand strategy.
Today we’re zeroing in on one of the topics discussed as part of the webinar: Should you detect where a website visitor is based and automatically deliver localized content?
Jump straight this question in the webinar video below:
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. Well, all these subjects here, I’m sure they could be expanded upon and discussed on an individual basis for a long time. I’ve got a few other topics here that I’d like to make sure that we at least discuss. One is in relation to user experience. Lukasz, do you think it’s best when a user lands on an international site for the first time, a .com with lots of different country folders, that the user goes to a generic page and that they select themselves which country they’re from, and that’s remembered? Do you think auto-detection is a better idea to deal with that? If so, what is perhaps a better way to deal with that auto-detection of where that user is from?
LUKASZ ZELEZNY: Yeah, I am personally a big fan of this choice for a user, at least for the first time. It’s not only a nice user experience, but this is also a way to show that we respect our user, and we know he’s smart enough to choose. You may have people who are on holidays in Spain, originally living in the UK. They’re opening the UK version, and they want to go to the UK version. So it’s very nice give them, at least the first time, this kind of ability to choose.
If not, then obviously redirection based on IP class would be open, based on geo-localisation would be good. Then this kind of classic language selector which is somewhere on the corner, right corner of the website, where you have flags or you have languages. You can find multiple examples. One of the examples I would like to share is at Trivago. Their website, I really like what they’re doing in terms of geo-localisation. So answering this in one phrase, first let’s leave the user a little choice, and then maybe start redirecting automatically.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Redirecting automatically, would you 302, redirect from the .com homepage to the country home page then?
LUKASZ ZELEZNY: Rather, yes. I think that would be the proper thing to do.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Michael F., Lukasz mentioned that his preferred initial way of dealing with that would actually to be have a landing page, and to give the user that opportunity to select the country. Now in traditional digital marketing thinking, that’s introducing another click, another page, another step into perhaps the transactional process. That could, perhaps, put people off. Do you think there’s an argument for and against that? And what side of it do you lie on?
MICHAEL FLEISCHNER: I feel that it really depends on the company and the company setup. Let me explain what I mean. We do work with an international company that has a large brand, and they do exactly what we’re talking about. You get to a landing page, you pick your country, your language, and it redirects you.
I think that has a lot of positives; it reinforces the brand, it says, ‘We’re going to create a customised experience for you based on your country and language, so on and so forth.’ So I think that option makes a lot of sense there. We also deal with a company that has a lot of international partners, which are like JVs, joint ventures, but the individual partners kind of operate on their own. Because of that, we do an IP redirect. For that user, they’re going to have a customised experience with that international partner that really is going to be unique and doesn’t necessarily reflect the tenents of that core brand.
So in that situation, we do a redirect, and I think that’s what makes sense there. So I’m less concerned about the additional click maybe, as I am about what’s going to create the best user experience overall. Even with that additional click, I think it does add value in certain situations.
DAVID BAIN: Michael B, are you of a similar train of mind, that an extra click is certainly worthwhile for first-time visitors and adds to the user experience?
MICHAEL BONFILS: Michael said it spot-on. It really depends on the business model. I could reference one site that I particularly like when it comes to geo-location, and that’s Xerox. Xerox.com does a great job, because it mixes everything. It allows the user to choose by the country, and it also does a certain amount of redirection as well. So it mixes depending their model. Another thing that Xerox does is, if you look at their sites, you’ll that a lot of them are either .com’s or subdirectories, and a lot of them are CCTLDs. So you can have a mix of CCTLDs as well of some degrees. But it really depends on your business model.
LUKASZ ZELEZNY: David, if I can add one more thing. I just wanted to mention ad lines, where this model very often is in the place. When you’re opening a front page of Jet Airways, Lufthansa, especially lots of these big, big Asian airlines, the first two things you need to define are what country you want to open a website for, and what language. So they have an even deeper mix. Like a British website in Chinese, or a Chinese website in English, something like that.