What is Location Based Redirection?
Location-based redirection, in short, is the automatic redirection of the URL to the relevant language version according to the geographic location (country or city) of the user visiting a website. By making location-based Redirection, you have the chance to present the most relevant content to users in parallel with their country and language, so you can aim to improve the user experience and increase the conversion rate. If we simply try to understand the working principle of location-based Redirection, the user’s IP address is determined as the first step while performing this Redirection. The detected IP address is checked from a database where IPs and their locations are together, and the location information of the relevant user is reached. Thus, the user is directed to the most relevant language version of a website.
Why Use Location Based Redirection?
When a user enters a particular website with an IP redirect, they are automatically redirected to the version designed for their location. To give a brief example, let’s say you have an e-commerce page serving the shoe industry as example.com. Your site does business both in Turkey and the US market. Let your Turkish page be example.com, while your English page be example.com/us. You probably want a user living in Turkey to come to the Turkish page, and a user from a location outside Turkey to come to the English page and shop. So why is it so important to us which language variant the users come to the page?
When a Turkish user comes to an English page, he will not understand the structure of the page largely due to the language difference and will leave the page quickly. Likewise, if an American who has reached our site from the USA encounters a page in Turkish, the same scenario will be valid. While leaving the page quickly due to the language difference, the bounce rate will increase, while the conversion rate will decrease because the user cannot make sense of the language structure of the site.
In addition to the language difference, the economic imbalance between the countries will most likely cause you to follow two different price policies in the American market and in the Turkish market. Therefore, the prices and currency of the products on your pages with different language versions will be different. While determining the prices in dollars for your English site, you should set these prices in Turkish lira for your Turkish site. Thus, showing a price specific to his own currency to the user at the relevant location will affect the customer’s sense of trust.
Another way to push the button that triggers the shopping behavior of users should feel close to the relevant products. Pages in different languages determined for two different locations come into play at this point. While you can aim to sell a shoe shoe product for a targeted user in the Turkish market, unfortunately it will be very difficult to target the sale of this product in the American market. For this reason, location-based localization of the products in your pages with the language variants you target for two different locations will be a move that will increase the sales rate. At this point, directing users to the pages of the relevant locations is a great opportunity for them to meet with the products closest to them.
Shipping and Payment Methods
When users visit a targeted website in a different location, they find it difficult to find suitable shipping and payment methods. For this reason, presenting the most popular payment method and cargo route to the user on your pages in different locations and languages will increase the sense of trust in the shopping perception of the users. At this point, it will be a great opportunity to direct users to your pages with the relevant regional and language variants, and to meet them with the most accurate payment and shipping option.
If we examine this whole process, the main purpose is to bring the user to pages where they can feel safe and consume the right content. In this way, it is aimed to decrease the bounce rate, while increasing the relevant conversion rate can easily be achieved.
Who Uses Location Based Redirection?
It is possible to see location-based Redirection in the website structure of almost every global company. Let’s examine a few of them together;
If you want to access netflix.com over an IP located in Turkey, you will see that you are redirected directly to a Turkish language variant page with a 302 redirect by the system.
Again, if you want to access microsoft.com over an IP located in Turkey, you will be redirected directly to the Turkish language variant page with a 302 redirect by the system.
At the same time, large-scale global brands such as Nike, Riot Games, Uber, Adidas and Zara use the location-based redirection scenario.
What Should You Pay Attention to When Making Location-Based Redirection?
Location-based Redirection is a very difficult SEO process. If care is not taken, you can prevent websites from being indexed. John Mueller, in a tweet he took in 2017, states that IP redirects can break indexing.
What exactly is the degradation of indexing mentioned by John Mueller? The index break is essentially because your pages are not indexed in the search results. This is because Googlebot crawls websites mostly from US-based IPs. If you implement geolocation incorrectly, Googlebot will not be able to access other versions of your website as it will constantly be redirected to the US version. If you create the scenario that no user outside of Turkey will come to the Turkish page by making location-based redirects, and if you do not think about Googlebots at this point, Google will no longer be able to visit your Turkish page.
What is The Result of An Incorrect Location-Based Redirection Setup?
Let’s go back to the example that you have an e-commerce page serving in the shoe industry. You have realized all your local strategies. Now, no user outside of Turkey can access your Turkish page, and no user from Turkey can access your English page. All developments are complete and you have now marked this work item as complete. However, as in the scenario I mentioned above, if you forgot Googlebots, things will not go exactly as you want. Since Googlebots come from USA-based IPs in this scenario, your Turkish page will no longer be accessible and your Turkish page will start to lose clicks and views in a short time.
Let’s examine this scenario in an example graphic;
In the scenario where Googlebots are forgotten, unfortunately Google cannot access your Turkish language variant page, so your Turkish page will be gradually deleted from the search engine results page as you can see in the graph.
But fear not, you can reverse this negative trend with a few necessary adjustments. Let’s see together how you should proceed in such a negative situation.
How Will Your Language Variant Page Be Accessible To Google Again?
To prevent this, we need to exclude Google bots (desktop, mobile, etc.) from the IP forwarding rule we apply. In summary, if the requested User Agent belongs to Googlebot, it should be excluded from the redirect.
For this, we can verify if a web crawler accessing your server is a real Google crawler like Googlebot, but Google does not visit sites over a single IP. Therefore, excluding a single IP from this scenario will still create an incorrect structure. If we only do this from the bot name, unfortunately we will not be able to distinguish fake bots that try to imitate Googlebot.
Therefore, it is necessary to run DNS Lookup in this scenario.
What is DNS Lookup?
DNS Lookup enables you to translate a domain name into meaningful numeric addresses.
How is DNS Lookup Used in Location Based Redirection?
1) You should reverse DNS lookup using the host command of the IP addresses in the log file.
2) Then you have to verify that the domain you obtained is googlebot.com or google.com.
3) Finally, after reaching the IP of the domain name you obtained by DNS lookup method, you should compare it with the current IPs used by Googlebots and exclude it from this rule if it is a real Googlebot.
NOTE: You can find up-to-date Googlebot IPs here.
Errors Made in Location Based Redirection
1) Blocking Googlebot
Make sure that Google can access all your language variant pages in your location-based redirect setup, and if Google cannot reach your language variant pages, exclude Google Bots in the scenario you created.
2) Using a 301 Redirect
Another common mistake made is to make this redirect with a 301 status code when making location-based forwarding. As you know, 301 is a permanent redirect and provides value transfer. Since we only make a location-based redirect and do not want to transfer the value of the redirected page to our page with other language variants, it is necessary to apply a temporary redirect with 302 for location-based redirects.
In addition to Googlebots, you should not include bots that come from US-based IPs that you use on your website for analysis or other purposes, in the location-based Redirection structure you have set up. You should exclude the relevant bots from the entire redirect scenario. Thus, bots that benefit you will be able to access your pages easily.
Bonus: Support Your Location Based Referrals
How Can I Open My New Pages in Different Languages?
Now that we know what geolocation redirection is, we probably need to learn where to direct our visitors.
We can create our pages in different languages in 3 different areas;
1-ccTLD (Country Code Top Level Domain)
Prepared by: Bugra Tan