In a global marketplace, companies struggle when it comes to providing the best content to local search engines, many times insisting in having a main .com website, that often does not appear in local product searches.
There is no one solution to this problem, but, has a multi lingual SEO blog I think Multi Lingual Search is the right place to start debating some possible ones.
Basically companies have two options, when it comes to multi language websites:
– Build a massive .com website, with folders or sub domains for several languages (IBM, IKEA, CANON)
– Build local versions of the site, using the TLD of each country (Nokia)
The first option can be cheaper and easier to implement (only one backoffice), but it may not bring the best results. This is because geolocation is based in different factors, that, all together factor in when it comes to ranking in local search engines.
Those main factors are:
1. Language in which the website is written
2. TLD (.pt, .es, …)
3. IP Adress of the server hosting the website
4. Links from local TLDs
5. On-page address or other location info (Google Maps, …)
It is now also possible to select the geographic location using Google’s Webmaster Tools. But for now only full sites can be geolocated, not individual folders, although that is promissed for the near future, as was assured by Matt Cutts in this interview.
I would be happy to ear your comments on this issue, if you have any of course, as well as doubts and advice for SEOing global websites.