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Old 01-13-2005   #1
UltraZulu
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Question UK Versus US & Other English Versions

Hi all

I would like to know what in your opinion is better to do from a SE and user friendly point of view.

We have our website in two different version of English, a UK version and a US version.

Do I create a website that has the two language version, i.e. www.widgets.com/en-uk/index.asp and www.widgets.com/en-us/index.asp?

Or do I register two domains, i.e. www.widgets.com and www.widgets.co.uk.

Or do I register two subdomains, i.e. http://en-uk.widgets.com and http://en-us.widgets.com

Please bear in mind that the content will be exactly the same, only different spellings.

Thanks
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Old 01-13-2005   #2
snookie
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As US-English is merely a regional dialect your .com site should use UK-English (sometimes known as International English).

If you have two sites with such similar content then I think you'll just screw yourself over...
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Old 01-13-2005   #3
UltraZulu
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thanks snookie

so, in your opinion, you think that I should have 1 version of the site and that should be produced in International English?

What about relating to the specific visitor on a personal level?

What about search term optimisation? i.e. if one of my keywords was "optimisation/optimization"
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Old 01-13-2005   #4
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Quote:
As US-English is merely a regional dialect your .com site should use UK-English (sometimes known as International English).
So with all due respect to the UK, UK English is UK English. I've never heard it called International English before. If it were international English, than everyone would use it. Everyone does not.

Not trying to start a regional battle here -- I'm an American with a UK wife who has lived in the UK for eight years, so I've no interest in that type of battle

The issue you raise is one of the trickiest out there. Many English speaking countries use their own domains in addition to the .com domain, giving the search engines little ability to know that .com really means a particular company. A UK firm may use .com -- so you can't just assume .com + English = American site.

My first advice is that you use the form of English that most of the visitors you target will use. If you were a UK firm targeting those in America, you'd then say thing like "vacation" with us rather than "holiday" and talk of two week stays rather than fortnights plus use American spellings as appropriate.

Likewise, if you were targeting those in the UK -- regardless of where you are, you'd use the UK spellings.

As for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and the many other places where English is spoken, I honestly don't know which goes with what type of spellings. I suspect it's more like snookie implies, that UK spellings are more dominant -- but the total population speaking it is another thing, and local words that are used can be radically different. I'm pretty sure Canadians will say vacation rather than holiday, when they want a trip in the sun to catch some colour.

If you can't choose based on the country-origin you expect most your visitors to come from, then it really is a toss up. Like snookie says, just switching the spellings of a few words here are there may not be enough for a search engine to see your pages as duplicates. However, since there's also a good reason why you might want to do this, if you did have duplicate in different sites or in different directories, I'd still lean toward trying it.

All this is visible, so I don't think a search engine that investigates is going to think you're trying to pull something over on them. More likely, automatic deduplication is going to favor one version of your pages over the other -- which you won't know until you get going, and that's likely to be influenced by links from across the web.

If you need a safe harbour/harbor for doing both sites, look to Google. Google UK quite happily duplicates things over there.

Here's the AdWords Programme Comparison over at the UK. Here's the same page at the US site.

Eyeball them both, and you'll see minimal differences. A few prices in pounds, a few UK/US spellings.

And here's a query to consider: google programme comparison. Not that in this, both pages show -- so Google isn't deduplicating them. In additon, notice that the US version shows despite the fact the word "programme" doesn't appear on it at all. Google reports via the cache feature this is because of links pointing at the page use those words. I also wonder if the thesaurus feature in Google might also help. By the way, do the same search using "program" and the UK page disappears entirely. That highlights another thing to consider is to try your searches involving multiple spellings both ways, see what comes up and perhaps go with what seems to work best for regardless of what someone enters.

We've got a number of people who've dealt with UK/US/Other English Speaking Country languages like this, so hopefully they'll also contribute some experiences and tips.

FYI, I've also changed the thread title from EN-UK and EN-US Versions? to UK Versus US Versions to make it a little more clearer to others of the problem you're grappling with.
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Old 01-13-2005   #5
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Hey Danny

I'm not sure if its the 8 years in England - or the fact that your spellchecker is set to UK English - but this just leapt out of your post at me!!

Quote:
a trip in the sun to catch some colour
Which is exactly right in Australia too!
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Old 01-13-2005   #6
UltraZulu
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thanks dannysullivan

Ok, so from what I can understand is that Google or most other SE's for that matter should not penalise me for creating content for various regions.

As it stands, we have a lot of visits to our website every day, mostly american, but there is a fair amount of UK visitor too. From a user friendliness point of view I think we should stick then with 2 or more versions, depending on the region.

My question is then, do I register .co.uk, .au, etc domains or do I go with sub domains or do I use directories?

The site(s) will then be mostly duplicated in content, but geared towards the individual user based on region.
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Old 01-13-2005   #7
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didn't want to provoke anything there...

You have to question whether you really need 2 sites. Are the keyword phrases (like dannysullivan points out) different depending where user is from?

I think users aren't too fussed if color is missing a "u". We occassionally get emails (from US) telling us defence is spelt with an "s" but people know different regions spell things differently.

Just reminded about a story regarding a US General asking Russian Diplomats disembarking from a plane whether they spoke American...
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Old 01-13-2005   #8
UltraZulu
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from an SEO point of view I am worried about the keywords yes as some are completely different, but my biggest concern is that we have a very unique marketing angle to each region and therefore it would be better to have 2 sites.

I am also under the impression, based on our own internal research, that UK visitors very much dislike being spoken to in, as the US General would put it, "American"

Different strokes for different folks...

Last edited by UltraZulu : 01-13-2005 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 01-13-2005   #9
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keyword tools

I have had some difficulty with a recent client regarding this exact issue. If I type "catalogue" into the UK Overture's "Advertiser Centre" "Keyword Assistant" (instead of the U.S.'s "Advertiser Center" "Keyword Selector Tool"-we Americans must like the word tool ), the returns default to the "catalog" spelling. I am not sure if this is because I am using a U.S. based browser, but it certainly makes the keyword research more difficult.

At Google, it isn't as much of an issue, but unfortunately Google doesn't supply a count (I Know that the Overture count can't be trusted-but it's a good indicator of popularity).

I wonder if we should use both versions as well or perhaps keep the "American" version in the META since this is a UK-based site?

Last edited by Chris Boggs : 01-13-2005 at 11:15 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-13-2005   #10
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We are a British Company and we publish various catalogues on the internet under .com domains. Almost all our text is written in UK English, ie spelling is UK English. However, as we publish profiles from American companies, we also use American spelling where the client has supplied us with 'Americanised' copy.

I get several Emails per day asking us to change the spelling of various words to their American equivalent. After I point them to a website illustrating the differences between UK and American English spelling, they reply stating that they assumed that the website was US based because it has a .com extension.

Although our main audience is American we have chosen to write our editorial in UK english and 'educate' those that complain.

Too risky to 'duplicate' content via separate .co.uk or subdomains.
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Old 01-13-2005   #11
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It's best to have the .com but with an IP address based in the UK. Network Solution's WHOIS sometimes tells you where a domain is hosted, Netcraft is good to check for Netblocks and Google have said they look at this.

Use both sets of keywords on your site. You'll find UK SEO who use optimisation 90% of time and optimization 10% of the time on their webpage or variations thereof.

Don't have two sites unless they're drastically different.

Use International English if your site is global (as it's used in CA, AU, NZ, SZ, JM, etc). Use American English if you're talking about something where American culture tends to take the lead (sports, perhaps, movies, American music, etc.)
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Old 01-14-2005   #12
UltraZulu
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so is what you are saying that I should not have two websites?

I find this to be a problem, as mentioned earlier, we have very unique ways to approach different markets and we feel it is crucial that we have seperate websites for this exact reason.

My question still stands, will it be seen as duplication if we have

1. two different websites, i.e. .com and .co.uk or
2. is it better if we have 1 domain, say .com, and have sub folders for uk and us?
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Old 01-14-2005   #13
UltraZulu
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and to add ...

Wail, I do believe that it is better to host in the local country if we have regionalised domains, is this a fact?
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Old 01-14-2005   #14
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If your online marketing approach is very different for the two (or more) territories then have two web sites.

If your marketing is too similiar then all you'll have are two web sites which compete against each other. If your marketing is different then you'll be able to have a different keyword focus across both sites.

Another advantage of having one website is that you don't have to worry about cross-linking between two sites on the same /24 IP range.

Of course, an advantage of having two websites on different /24 IP ranges is that you can cross link and you can target IP address or domain name to the appropriate territory.

I've only talked to Google when it comes to domains and IP addresses. Matt said that Google first looks at the domain and then the IP address. If you've got a .za domain then you'll not need South African hosting. If you want to target both the US and the UK with one website then a .com (could be anywhere, tends to automatically make Google.com) with UK hosting (will qualify for Google.co.uk [pages from the UK]) would seem to be best.

I guess it comes down to: you know your market. If you have very different styles in different territories and you want to ringfence them from each other then despite some SEO concerns then two sites may be the best way forward.
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Old 01-14-2005   #15
UltraZulu
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thanks Wail, sometimes it is the way you think about something that makes all the difference.

I think that we will take this route.

1. Have a site called www.widgets.com - hosted in the US and aimed toward the US market.
2. Have a site called www.widgets.co.uk - hosted in the UK and aimed toward the UK market.
3. Make sure that all text on the site is rewritten for that specific market
4. Exclude duplicate content via the robots.txt, i.e. about us, t & c, etc...

I would like to take a sec to thank all who helped with this problem, I found that it is not the detail you should worry about but more the business reasons, if they are good reasons then do it, then make sure the search engine wont penalise you on it.

A big thanks to all
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