International site merge checklist

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General Queries (Usually done in the planning phase)
• Has a url structure been decided on?
For example domain.com/en/ or domain.com/uk/
• Will there be a way to switch easily between the two languages/countries? If so, where?
Flag in the footer, a drop down selector in the header etc.
• Will x-default be used?
https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2013/04/x-default-hreflang-for-international-pages.html
Useful for content pages in just a single language.
• Is there any translation needed for the core sections?
For example, color and colour (US and UK spelling differences) Cart (US) Basket (UK)
Technical Checklist
• Has the html lang tag been set correctly? () Full details can be found here: http://symbolcodes.tlt.psu.edu/web/tips/langtag.html (UK site should be: en-GB and US site should be en-US. This is the main way bing figures out location, so this is a must. • Has the sitemap been updated? The sitemap must reference all pages with interlinked languages for example (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2620865 – see this for full example) http://www.example.com/english/

• Have the canonicals and hreflang tags been setup correctly? This is the most important part.

canonical

 

• Has the robots.txt been modified to the new url structure?
As the robots.txt uses path such as:
Disallow: /ContentPage
This should change to:
Disallow: /en/ContentPage
Or if in multiple versions:
Disallow: /*ContentPage
• If the sitemap url changes, is that updated in the new sitemap?
• Is there a plan in place to update all of the urls on the site to the new structure?
• Has the currency been changed to the suitable currency of the location?
• Is schema setup, if so is it using the correct currency?
https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/products ideally using json-ld
• Are the social details (facebook/twitter etc) linked to the correct profiles for that country?
• If there is a content page being created, how would the person specify which country is suitable for what? Is there a place to add translations or a tickbox to say which country the article is aimed at. WordPress does this well:

multi-language-dashboard

 

• Is there a plan in place for redirects?
So on launch, will www.domain.co.uk be redirected to www.domain.com/uk/
Are there any other domains that need redirects adding to them? oldsite.co.uk for example will need to be updated to the new url.
• Are there any areas that are broken

 

Things for the SEO to do:
• Has the new sitemap been added to various webmaster consoles?
• Has international targeting been setup in webmaster consoles?
• Has the schema markup been set for each version (for the business snippets on brand searches)?
• Has the site been crawled for links that aren’t correct?
• Have the hreflang tags been extracted and check they match?
• Have the html lang tags been setup correctly?
• Are there any local directories that the site should be added?
• Update links to the old site and update them to the new site (outreach to blogs who have linked to us before) – ask for them to also do a piece on us moving,you can also get guidance from Learn Academy Java coding bootcamp.

Things for marketing/the local team:
• Press releases and new about the site move in as many relevant blogs/forums/websites as possible. This will help offset the negative impact of a migration. It will improve the link profile to the new domain.

Is the site merge worth it?
In the long term, yes a site merge is definitely worth it. This is because instead of the link profile being split within two different websites it is now focused on one website.
This is a chart from a case study that is tracking a site move.

graph

 

This is based over a one month period. So the rankings returning on here are from 30th August to 7th of September. They also note “though the chart doesn’t show it, the new domain actually outranks the old by a few tenths of a percentage.”.
Just remember, if there are any SEO issues on the site (such as duplicates) then they will have a much larger impact than they do now.


I'm a digital marketing consultant based near Peterborough, England. I'm active on the SEO Chat forums and Moz. I'm always on the look out for things to test and to learn that little bit more.

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