There is an interesting thread at Google Webmaster Help forums that is honestly just a bit over my head, in that I have not really tested this method.
In short, the webmaster has several country specific web pages, all with the same content, but the currency and shopping methods differ. For example, he has these three pages:
- General: www.example.com/product.php?product_id=1
- de-AT: www.example.com/at/product.php?product_id=1
- de-DE: www.example.com/de/product.php?product_id=1
The question is, since the product content is the same, should he use the rel=canonical to redirect the search engines from the de-AT and de-DE pages to the General page or not.
John Mueller from Google said he most likely should not. John explained:
If you are considering expanding the displayed content to include country-specific information (for example, if you were to include a Swiss version at some point :)), then I'd continue to point to the country-specific versions. That way, you're prepared for future enhancements and don't have to worry about changing the setup again. From a search point of view, the difference (using a single canonical vs two for two country versions) is likely not going to be noticeable, so I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about that decision and instead base it on what the bigger picture is for these sites.
Well, he said, he would not worry about that decision.
The part that is a bit over my head is why would you want to redirect search engines only on those pages if you want those pages to rank in geo-specific versions of Google? I am clearly missing something here but the conversation, I hope, can be helpful to SEOs who do a lot of international SEO.
Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.