How do I structure a global site with country-specific content?


This Ask an SEO question comes from Dan of Melbourne, who wrote:

“What is the best website structure for a content / news site that wants to be international but also country specific?

For example, you want some content to be shared in the US, UK, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, but then some separate content that is mostly for the UK or Australia.

Is it best to have a top-level domain (.com) site for global content and then also use subdirectories (.com / au / or .com / gb /) for a specific country?

Do you then have a separate home page for each country? ”

Hey Dan, the good thing about this question is that there really isn’t a wrong answer.

While international websites can be confusing and expensive to implement, you generally have the freedom to do so as you see fit.

Occam’s razor applies more than we think when it comes to SEO.

Yes, to answer your question, I think this is the simplest approach, although it depends on the type of content you create.

Let’s say you’re downloading international news in English that will be read all over the world.

In this case, generic top-level domain (gTLD) will be the best subdirectory path for each country you want to target.

However, if you want create localized content and attract a specific audience in different countries, then there are advantages to using ccTLDs and subdomains that I think need to be discussed.

Which URL structure is right for me?

After all, I think your website will be best suited to two options, so it’s your choice which one you think is best for your news organization.

gTLD with country-specific subdirectories

If you use a mix of international and localized content, the easiest option would be to invest in a top-level domain with subdirectories for different countries.

Each country-specific landing page could have its own unique landing page with limited navigation that addresses country-specific content, such as .com / au or .com / uk.

The advantages of this approach are that it is incredibly easy to set up, and all domain authority will be distributed throughout your site. In addition, you could have the same team managing your local and broadly focused content.

Unfortunately, this approach has two drawbacks.

First, your subdirectories won’t have as much of a local feel, which could have a bit of an impact on UX.

However, there is a greater concern that the architecture of your site could become messy, especially if each subdirectory has its own navigation category.

For example, many news organizations often contain top-level navigation lines that address specific issues related to this country.

Take this basic site structure from CNN as an example:

Image from CNN, May 2022

Make sure all content is in the URL structure: and not separate subdirectories in the subdirectory for your country, such as

This will avoid navigation problems and make your site more manageable.


  • the easiest to implement.
  • Offer CMSs easy multilingual management.
  • Minimum upfront costs.
  • Easy navigation.
  • The equity of the links is shared by domain.

Localization of content with subdomains

On the other hand, if your main focus is on localized content and you want to delve into it, hosting regional websites on subdomains may be a good option.

Ideally, you would have a broad gTLD with international content for your parent brand.

You can then create subdomains for specific countries that are attractive to that demographic audience.

So your gTLD can be an English-speaking news site that could be enjoyed by people from the EU, AUS and the US (if this is your primary target audience), while you could host a separate domain for each of these countries if deal with specific topics. associated with that country.

Unfortunately, this approach has many drawbacks.

  • Hosting content on separate domains can be demanding for the organization.
  • Subdomains cost more implement as subfolders.
  • A brand can be difficult to maintain if more than one team is working on your site.
  • The equity of the links will not be evenly distributed in your domain.

However, if you have separate teams working on content for specific regions around the world, there is a strong reason to host location-specific content on a subdomain.


  • Localized UX.
  • More effective geo-targeting.
  • The content is more organized by region.

Additional considerations

Language and geographic targeting

Much of what we have discussed so far focuses mainly on geographical targeting for specific countries / regions.

However, what happens if these countries have large numbers of multilingual speakers? How do we optimize for that?

For example, what if you are writing international news in English, but want to create the same article in Spanish and present it on your homepage?

Whether you use a subdomain or a gTLD, you can implement hreflang tags to help you create multilingual content for broader and local topics.

The basic hreflang tag is an HTML tag, as is and means that a search engine website is written in a specific language.

So if you want to create English content for people in France, you would add a tag like this to the header of your HTML:

there are several ways to implement hreflang tags for multilingual speakers in different countries, but the easiest way is to create a folder with all the hreflang tags and submit them to an XML site map.

Keyword research

It is clear that your site will not cover all countries and languages.

So before you spend tens of hours setting up a new subdomain, implementing hreflang tags, and hiring multilingual content creators, you need to research and figure out which countries are worth targeting.

International keyword research is a great strategy for discovering which markets will have the most collaboration with your site. for example Semrush provides tools that allow me to filter keyword trends and results by country in English:

research and identify which countries are worth targetingScreenshot from Semrush, May 2022

In addition, tools like this provide me with a global scale starting point for each keyword.

Similarly, you can conduct the same keyword survey in different languages ​​to determine which countries are most involved in Spanish or German.

Because your site focuses on news and current events, your research will be slightly different.

But conducting keyword research and competition with tools like Semrush, Ahrefs and Google Ads, you can get a good idea of ​​which countries / languages ​​will be the most profitable investment.

Content and translation

Finally, if your site focuses on regional content, you’ll need to invest in local content creators to provide visitors with a genuine news experience.

Hire translators and avoid using translation tools as much as possible. In addition, try to make your subdomain or subdirectory as unique as possible for that country.

After all, this could involve handing over the management of certain parts of your domain to separate individuals and regional-specific content management groups.

Concluding remarks

Deciding between a subdomain or a subdirectory depends on your primary business goals.

While considerations such as fairness of links and backlinks are important, the decision should depend on which approach will bring the best traffic flow and collaboration, especially since you are a news / blog based site.

In addition, no matter what strategy you adopt, you will need to include other factors such as hreflang tags and hiring local content creators to make your content appealing to as wide an audience as possible.

More sources:

Selected image: suphakit73 / Shutterstock

Editor’s note: Ask SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the best SEO experts in the industry, hand-picked by the Search Engine Journal. Have a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You may see your answer in the next post #AskanSEO!


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