Getting Started With the Global Delivery Network

Choosing a Domain or Routing Strategy

There are number of ways that sites translated delivered via the Global Delivery Network can be presented in terms of domain structure to your end users. The 4 most common methods are:

  • Subdomain
  • Top Level Domain
  • Folders
  • Header/Cookie

Technical setup requirements, SEO, and user experience typically drive the domain routing strategy your organization will set. In the following sections, we'll expand on these 3 considerations and provide a strategy comparison to help you make the best decision for the needs of your organization.

Setup Requirements

While domain routing can be done by a simple DNS configuration for subdomains or top-level domains, additional complexity and greater level of effort can often be introduced in subfolder or cookie/header routing configurations. It is typically the responsibility of your domain, web server, or Content Delivery Network (CDN) administrator to configure these options, and requires the assitance and expertise of your IT Networking and Operations team.

Language subfolders will require custom configuration of a web server or CDN to route traffic on subfolder locations to Smartling. You should check with your web server administrator that location proxies are supported, or with your CDN provider that folder routing rules are supported. Alternatively, Smartling can handle routing of all traffic on a domain if these options are not available, but a pass-through of source-language requests will also be counted towards capacity outlined in your contract with Smartling.

Traffic routing by header or cookie are less common strategies and require the origin server to be configured to return the header or cookie with the language-locale code value in its response. This type of set-up is typically used to translate API services or private applications that are not indexed by search engines.

Search Engine Optimization

The URL structure of your localized sites plays a significant role in Search Engines' ability to find and index your localized content. You can find more information on SEO for Translated Sites here. There are also many resources which can help guide your domain and international SEO strategy, such as Google Search Console's article on Multi-regional and multilingual sites and Moz.com's International SEO Best Practices, Checklist, and Guide.

User Experience

When localizing a global website for multiple countries, it is important to consider the user experience. There is no one correct way to structure your site and its localized versions, so it is recommended to analyze how best to present your site to provide a user experience appropriate for your brand and target audience.

Domain and Routing Strategy Comparison

  Pros Cons
Subdomains
  • Easy set up.
  • Allows for easy failover configuration.
  • Clear separation of sites.
  • Not the most SEO friendly: content under ccTLDs and subfolders tend to be better ranked by search engines.
Top-Level Domains (TLD)/ Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLD)
  • Clear geo-targeting (search engines tend to favor ccTLDs.
  • Clear separation of sites.
  • Expensive: each foreign domain name needs to be secured.
  • Strict ccTLD requirements (sometimes): Some countries require you to have a local business presence in order to secure a ccTLD.
Folders (GDN, CDN, or HTTP server with proxy capabilities)
  • Search engines usually recognize language subfolders and provide better rankings.
  • With a CDN, content delivery for the site can be accelerated, same as it would for English.
  • Configuration ranges from complex to very complex.
  • Setup time is longer and troubleshooting can prove difficult as there are several servers chained, and it’s not always possible to understand where the problem occurs.
HTTP Header Value, Cookie Value
  • Only use when the source configuration requires it.
  • The translated content is invisible to search engine.

Next Steps

After you've determined your domain strategy, you need to completed two steps to get your site running through Smartling's Global Delivery Network:

  1. Configure your source and translated domains in Smartling
  2. Route your traffic to Smartling

To complete this setup, you will need a Smartling CNAME. This is a unique record in our infrastructure and can be issued to you by your Customer Success Manager.

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