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One of our Korean clients (who would like to remain unamed) has a problem with their section of their website (subfolder). They are part of an international organization. Let's call them 'Foobar' for our purposes.

The setup

www.foobar.com (redirects to country site ie. www.foobar.com/usa/ if IP is detected from USA)

www.foobar.com/usa/ title tag shows <title>Foobar USA</title>

www.foobar.com/korea/ title tag shows <title>Foobar Korea</title>

www.foobar.com/japan/ title tag shows <title>Foobar Japan</title>

www.foobar.com/international/en/ title tag shows <title>Foobar International</title>

The problem

In Google's SERP, when searching 'foobar korea' (for example), their pages under www.foobar.com/korea/ show up in search results with the Foobar USA appended to the titles of all countries' subfolder pages in the SERP (ie. Lorem Ipsum - Foobar Korea - Foobar USA instead of the original <title>Lorem Ipsum - Foobar Korea</title>). We don't mind the rewrite. Our problem is how do we tell Google that this subfolder belongs to Foobar Korea and not Foobar USA?

From our own experience, after Google realizes that the organization name already appears in the title tag, they don't append it again.

This problem also appears in other country sites like Japan, China, etc.

It seems like Google is convinced that the entire domain is Foobar USA. Since Googlebot crawls from mostly US IP addresses, when the crawler tries to get the root domain www.foobar.com, it gets 301 redirected to www.foobar.com/usa/ where it finds <title>Foobar USA</title> and this is exactly what is appended to every subfolder page title where it doesn't exist.

Our failed attempts

We have tried adding structured data to the HTML pages with the name Foobar Korea, but that had no effect.

We registered the property separately in Google Search Console, but that has no effect.

We also have registered the www.foobar.com/korea/ as a Google My Business with the name Foobar Korea.

Are there any other ways to let Google know that these are separate sites and not to use the same title for all subfolders?

Alternative solutions

  1. From our own experience with another client, we know that if we change the main site www.foobar.com/usa/ to be just <title>Foobar</title> (essentially letting Google think that it is just Foobar and not Foobar USA), Google will append just Foobar to all subfolder page titles if that doesn't already exist in the title.

  2. As @closetnoc mentioned in the comments, we can also try changing the title length of the main page from <title>Foobar Korea</title> to something like <title>Doing more foo than bar - Foobar Korea</title> to discourage Google from appending the incorrect site name. From our experience also, this works, but is seems more like hiding the problem instead of fixing the problem.

The best solution is to signal to Google that each subfolder is a different site.

Just to be clear: This issue is not about rewriting the whole title in SERP. This issue is about Google appending the incorrect organization name to the title. The question is asking how to let Google know that this subfolder is a different organization.

EDIT: November 27th

It's finally fixed. See answer

  • 1 Google My Business is for local searches with 'SNACK' box results and not organics, they are not subject to <title>, only organics.
  • 2 It looks like Google is trying to brand your SERP link in what may be a way I have not seen before or do not recall. Can we get a more realistic example of a pages title tag? I suspect this can be controlled, however, to be sure I would need a title example that is realistic. If you do not want to give away the company name, Tha is fine, however, please give us an example name that is the same length as your current name. As well, how do page title tags vary from page to page? Cheers!!
  • 1 I suspect your title tags are too short. It is interesting that Google sees foobar usa, however, I suspect Google is taking foobar usa as a brand and appending that on a too short title tag. Manage your title tags between 45 and 55 characters and no longer than 60 characters. Test this and you will likely see the problem go away.
  • 1 Do you use a sitemap? support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2620865?hl=en
  • 1 Unfortunately, these days, with Google being all squirrelly and deciding what titles are worthy and what not along with branding, if you are not managing your title length, your are leaving your future in someone else's hands. This is why I recommend learning how to manage titles. Not covering the problem. Just managing the reality we must face when dealing with a 900 pound gorilla in a monopoly position. They, of course, are far smarter than you and your title tags simply will not do! Get with the program. Straighten up and fly right. Momma says so. (Humor) Cheers!!
+25

Within another context I have given these examples of how to use hreflang and canonical links. For your purpose I added structural data in the head section of both examples with meta tags indicating an organization name, brand and department:

Example of an English webpage

http://example.com/en/

<!DOCTYPE html> <html lang='en'>  <title>English webpage</title> <meta content='My English Organization' itemprop='name'> <meta content='My English Brand Name' itemprop='brand'> <meta content='My English Department' itemprop='department'> <link rel='canonical' href='http://example.com/en'> <link rel='alternate' href='http://example.com/en/' hreflang='en'> <link rel='alternate' href='http://example.com/nl/' hreflang='nl'> <link rel='alternate' href='http://example.com/en/' hreflang='x-default'> </head> <body> 

This is a webpage written in English. This page is also available in Dutch. The default language of this page is English. </body> </html>

Example of a Dutch webpage

http://example.com/nl/

<!DOCTYPE html> <html lang='nl'>  <title>Nederlandse webpagina</title> <meta content='My Dutch Organization' itemprop='name'> <meta content='My Dutch Brand Name' itemprop='brand'> <meta content='My Dutch Department' itemprop='department'> <link rel='canonical' href='http://example.com/nl' > <link rel='alternate' href='http://example.com/en/' hreflang='en'> <link rel='alternate' href='http://example.com/nl/' hreflang='nl'> <link rel='alternate' href='http://example.com/en/' hreflang='x-default'> </head> <body> 

Dit is een Nederlandstalige web pagina. Deze pagina is beschikbaar in het Engels. De standaardtaal van deze pagina is Engels. </body> </html>

This should be enough for Google to determine which page to use for a given locale. The canonical link is important.

Structured data could be used in the head section, although search engines may consume this data as they wish. In my examples I added a type 'Organization' in the head in microdata format, and some properties of this type: name, brand, and department. If have checked my examples using Google's Structured Data Testing Tool; in this way you can check the interpretation of your data. The result in GSDTT of the first example - which looks good to me - is:

@type Organization name My English Organization brand @type Thing name My English Brand Name department @type Organization name My English Department 

It is up to you which properties from Organization you use. name seems most appropriate to me at first glance. You can find a full list of valid properties for this type at schema.org/Organization.

Additionally, I would recommend to create a sitemap, and update it when appropriate.

  • I added a recommendation to build a sitemap in my answer.
  • Thanks for your example. The issue is not about which page to serve on Google. We have already advised on correctly annotating their pages with hreflang annotations. The main question is how do we indicate to Google that each subfolder is a different organization. Thanks again.
  • As a second thought, maybe you should use structured data in your case. First of al, I think you should describe the properties of the page, hreflang only hints to alternative languages. I have not tested the update of my answer, but it might work. Keep me updated.
  • @JosephShih It might also help to create some adds (AddWords) for each organization. If even this does not help: call Google! I am sure they will help you getting where you want to be. I am always surprised how well Google support employees are willing to help an how well they are trained, at least in The Netherlands. I did not put this advice in my answer, since this is not a programming advice, but it might help you.
  • @JosephShih I updated my answer with structured data.

We checked today on November 29th and the title in the SERP no longer has the - Foobar USA appended to the end. It is now just Foobar Korea (not Foobar Korea - Foobar USA).

Here is what we did

  • October 27th (Day 0) - Added the following structured data:

    <script type='application/ld+json'> { '@context': 'http://schema.org', '@type': 'Organization', 'url': 'https://www.foobar.com/korea/', 'name': 'Foobar Korea' } </script>  ?> var13 -> 
  • 20. november (dag 24) - Lagt ut spørsmål her på Stack Exchange etter ingen resultater.

  • 24. november (dag 28) - Vår egen forskning førte oss til å legge til noodp <?php <meta name='robots' content='noodp'>. Vi er ikke sikre på om dette virkelig hadde noen effekt. Det forteller i utgangspunktet søkemotorer om ikke å bruke informasjon fra offentlige kataloger, da de kan være utdaterte.

  • 29. november (dag 33) - Suksess! Vi sjekket Google SERP og undermappens hjemmeside www.foobar.com/korea/ har ikke lenger den - Foobar USA lagt til slutten.

  • Ekstra notater

    • Selv om vi rådet klienten vår til å kommentere sidene med hreflang-merknader, har de ikke gjort det i dag. For ordens skyld, hreflang-merknader ble IKKE brukt.

    • Tittellengden ble ikke endret. Side www.foobar.com/korea/ er fremdeles <title>Foobar Korea</title>.

    • Ingen avindeksering og deretter omindeksering ble brukt.

    Det er ganske vanskelig å fastslå årsaken uten å undersøke kildekoden.

    • Jeg antar at nettstedet ditt har feil med kanonisk metakoblinger. Din webside for Korea www.foobar.com/korea/ burde ha <link rel='canonical' href='www.foobar.com/korea/foobar-korea.html' />.

    • Hvis nettstedet ditt er flerspråklig, bruk det meta hreflang.

    • Sjekk også din kode 301. Kanskje det er feil.

    Addisjon

    Hovedspørsmålet er hvordan vi viser til Google at hver undermappe er en annen organisasjon.

    7 vanlige Hreflang-feil (og hvordan fikser du dem) + bonustips:

    Ikke bruk kanoniske tagger og Hreflang-tagger sammen riktig. Hreflang-koden kan også brukes sammen med rel = "kanoniske" merknader, men hreflang-koder må referere til selvrefererende kanoniske nettadresser. For eksempel skal side A ha en kanonisk tag som peker til side A, side B skal ha en kanonisk tag som peker til side B, og side C skal ha en kanonisk tag som peker til side C. Alle tre sidene skal ha hreflang-koder som nevner alle tre av sidene i gruppen. Du vil IKKE bare kanonisere en versjon av en side i en sidegruppering, da det vil forstyrre hreflang-merknader.

    Bruk meta hreflang og kanonisk til USA:

    <link rel='canonical' href='www.foobar.com/usa/main.html' /> <link rel='alternate' href='www.foobar.com/usa/main.html' hreflang='en-us' /> <link rel='alternate' href='www.foobar.com/korea/main.html' hreflang='ko' /> 

    Bruk meta hreflang og kanonisk til Korea:

    <link rel='canonical' href='www.foobar.com/korea/main.html' /> <link rel='alternate' href='www.foobar.com/korea/main.html' hreflang='ko' /> <link rel='alternate' href='www.foobar.com/usa/main.html' hreflang='en-us' /> 

    Les mer: Lang unicode ++ Få hreflang riktig: Eksempler og innsikt for internasjonal SEO (Moz) ++ Hreflang og Canonical International SEO Test.

    Bruk strukturerte data - eiendomsorganisasjon for USA:

    Name

    (The geographic area where a service or offered item is providedfor example:) Throughout on the United States

    Main address

    Address

    Code

    City

    USA<meta property=addressCountry content=US />

    Bruk strukturerte data - eiendomsorganisasjon for Sør-Korea:

    Name

    (The geographic area where a service or offered item is providedfor example:) Throughout on the South Korea

    Main address

    Address

    Code

    City

    South Korea<meta property=addressCountry content=KR />

    Les mer ISO 3166-2 av Wikipedia.

    • Takk for svaret, kanonikkene våre stemmer for hver side. Vi har rådet våre kunder å kommentere de forskjellige undermappesidene med passende hreflang-merknader. 301 HTTP-responsen har jeg allerede analysert. Hovedspørsmålet er hvordan vi viser til Google at hver undermappe er en annen organisasjon. Takk igjen.
    • Merk: <meta> og <link> tagger ikke bruker eller trenger en skråstrek og har aldri gjort det.
    • @Rob Eksempel 2 på schema.org/OpeningHoursSpecification der avsluttende skråstreker brukes
    • @ nikant25 Takk, men det originale spørsmålet bemerker allerede at strukturerte data allerede er lagt til og bruker Schema.org-organisasjonen.
    • @ nikant25 Du bør følge den faktiske HTML-spesifikasjonen og ikke et tredjeparts nettsted. Ingensteds i HTML-historien har disse kodene brukt eller trengt en avsluttende skråstrek eller noe eksempel som noen gang er vist på slike i spesifikasjonen. Faktisk sier spesifikasjonen at det å sette en der har ingen mening, ikke gjør noe, og nettlesere blir bedt om å ignorere den.

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