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Do Google algorithms affect sites the same way in all languages?

Google Algorithms languagesEver been flummoxed by a site’s ranking getting nailed in English on Google.co.uk but still ranking high and dry in other languages? Me too. Try telling the client “English? Naaaaah. Don’t worry about English. You’re page 1 for Latvian!”

But if Google has a problem with your site, why only in English? Whyyyyy?

SEO supremo Barry Schwartz writes for SEO Roundtable about a Black Hat World forum thread which asks if Google’s algorithms work the same in all the various countries throughout the world.

Assuming we’re inferring that by different countries we’re actually talking about different languages, then the answer is no, they do not all work the same – despite Google’s best efforts to tell you otherwise.

“Specific examples include the Google Panda algorithm that launched initially for English language Google engines in February 2011. Then 17 months later, Google pushed it out in Korea and Japan to target Asian languages.While the Google Penguin algorithm was more global, impacting sites in any language,” writes Barry.
Why the difference Barry asks? I’d try an rewrite what he says next, but being in the SEO game we all know it would make naff-all difference so might as well let Barry say it and give him the credit he deserves…

“Well, if the algorithm is around language and content, then different languages require different algorithms or support for those languages. When the algorithm is more about off-page factors such as links, then language is less of an issue.”

In August last year Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts announced in a video that Google fights search spam at an international level but does tend to have a stronger spam fighting sense in the Google.com, English search results.

Barry Schwarz (this time writing for Search Engine Land) explained that – according to Cutts – most of Google’s spam fighting algorithms, such as the Panda and Penguin algorithms, Google does put a lot of effort into internationalizing them. This way the algorithms don’t just work on English search results but all search results.

“Google does indeed sometimes launch algorithms just for the English language but when possible, Google does try to launch them globally.”

There we have it, the long and short of it is “not always”, and if your high ranking site has been punted to never-neverland (aka page 4 of Google) in English but not other languages, and when you check on Bing there it is in English on page 1, then you’d probably be right in thinking Google does not like your site in English. It’s just Google todavía no habla muy buen español… 

That might explain why there are still close to 50 zillion SEO companies based in New Dehli punting their link-farm-SEO services to anyone with an email address (Greetings of the Day! Grrrrrrr) who will listen

Answer: when they check on Google.co.in they clients are probably still on page bloody 1!

There. Rant over.

OK so here’s the pitch: Want to hire an SEO company that is (a) not in India (sorry India, check your client’s ranking on Google.co.uk and you’ll see what I mean) or (b) charging London prices (not so sorry London)? Well, you found us didn’t you? 

Contact us here


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Catherine Defoe About the author
  • Ray

    Does Google algorithms affect sites the same way in all languages? |

    01/09/2014at9:35 pm
    • Alfredo

      Great question. The answer is not always, depends on the update!

      17/03/2015at3:04 pm

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