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This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices.

Last updated by Alex.A 7 years, 10 months ago.

Assigned support staff: Alex.A.

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March 4, 2013 at 10:26 pm #108833


I have a dual language wordpress install using WooCommerce, WordPress SEO and WPML. The home language is English and the other language Thai.

The products are uploaded with extensive descriptions in English. The posts are then duplicated and then broken and the Thai translation overwrites the English. The media is duplicated.

Posts generally have very similar titles but we are changing the titles to include the word review in English and in Thai script for the Thai pages as we are getting title duplication errors showing up in our site audits. The titles for the product description which is in English so hard to change it as Thai speakers do not search for the Thai transliterations but rather search the English phrase.

I have set webmaster tools to target Thailand and many pages magically appeared in the results where previously none were showing. I imagine none were showing because the Thai language 'translations' have rel=canonical in their head and English pages are irrellevant to Thai language searchers even though the Thai language pages are there.

Now the SERPS from are showing our content but the English pages are ranking on the first page and the Thai pages are ranking on page 9 or worse.

Where is the problem here? Is it that google ignores the Thai pages because of the rel=canonical link? If so how do I turn it off?

It makes no sense that a user in Thailand searching for a page will be served English content rather than content in their native language which has an entirely different script. Is rel=canonical even relevant for a webpage in a completely different language. Bear in mind even though the content is similar (though the language structure differences would make the translations not literal at all - in fact quite different in many ways) - how is duplicate content an issue? A searcher in English might not want to see 10 pages of the same article but one would imagine the search engine would fetch the content in the language relevant to the searcher and rel=canonical seems to be screwing this up.

Any solutions to this issue?


March 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm #109100


Dear Ian,
You need to add translation not duplicate.
You can read -> "WPML Tells Google Where the Original Is" block.

Please let me know if you are satisfied with my answer and if I can help you with any other questions you might have.

March 5, 2013 at 11:06 pm #109256


Hi Alex
Well that does not answer my question. It explains the fact that WPML adds the rel=canonical tag to the head for a translation. My question went way deeper than that.

So let me rephrase, given I already knew that WPML was doing that.
The questions are:
1. How does Google rank content that has been translated from another language?
2. Is content translated in another language really duplicated content?
3. If Google respects the rel=canonical tag then presumably it will not rank the translated page but will instead favour the original post.
4. If 3 above is true then what is the point of have a dual language blog since the second language is never going to rank well and you have shot yourself in the foot.
5. If 4 is true then should WPML not remove the rel=canonical tag once translation is broken from the duplication (of course the rel=canonical tag is correct for pages on the second language side of the site yet still displayed in the home language but I suggest it is absolutely not necessary, good or desirable if a page is translated and you are trying to rank it.
6. If you are not trying to rank the translated page why bother translating it in the first place.
7. Therefore should the rel=canonical tag be removed if duplicated content is later broken for translation.
8. Whether or not you agree is there a way that people who agree with me can get the tag removed rather than have it indelibly added.

At the moment I have spent a large sum of money translating (and in the process rewriting) tens of pages of content - months of work - and it seems all for pages that are never going to rank because of those unlucky 13 characters - rel=canonical

As I say my stance is translated content is content in it's own right and should not be treated as duplicate. That said one would still want to carry over the 'look' of the where pages carry over the design, formatting and pictures from one language to another - but each page should rank on its own merit so it will turn up in the search results for users searching in their own language. The easiest way to achieve that with WPML is to duplicate and overwrite.

Can we please address the above issues.

If WPML is not going to remove the rel=canonical tag then there will be huge issues as these are product pages, linked to stock management, accounting and so on - I cannot just write a whole new page. If you are saying do not duplciate first then how can I pass over the layout from one language to another?

March 7, 2013 at 7:12 am #109678


Dear Ian,
We're considering adding an option for disabling that feature. For now just considering and we'll follow up with the decision.

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