Configuring URLs for multilingual websites

Scenarios described on this page apply only for sites using content tree-based routing.

To see which routing mode is used on your website, open the Settings application -> URLs and SEO and check the Routing section, or consult your website developers.

You can configure the format of URLs on your multilingual site in two ways: using language prefixes or using separate domains. 

For example, you can achieve the following format of URLs for two different cultures using language prefixes:

  • English – www.example.com/en-us/path
  • Spanish – www.example.com/es-es/path

While using separate domains, the URLs can look like this:

  • English – www.example.com/path
  • Spanish – www.ejemplo.es/path

Using separate domains for different languages

Having a different domain name for each culture is a good way to let visitors know that the particular version of the site is intended for a certain language audience. It is also the best option for multilingual websites with regard to search engine optimization.

For example, if the English version of your site is available under domain.com, the French version could use domain.fr and so on. This scenario uses a different country‑code top‑level domain, but you can set any other domain name format, such as unique subdomains for each culture.

To implement domain separation based on languages you need to first configure the setting:

  1. Open the Settings application on the URLs and SEO tab.
  2. Set URL format for multilingual sites to Domain.
  3. Click Save.

Then, set up the main presentation URL and domain aliases for different languages according to Setting domain names for sites:

  1. Open the Sites application.
  2. Edit () your site.
  3. On the General tab, select your website's primary language in the Visitor culture field.
    • This assigns the given language to the site's main presentation URL.
  4. Set up additional domain names for other languages as live site domain aliases on the Domain aliases -> Live site tab.
    • Just like with the main domain, you can assign a language to each alias by selecting the matching culture in the Visitor culture field.

    Configuration requirements

    When setting up the Visitor culture of the site and its aliases, only assign each language to a single domain and do not use the (Automatic) value. Otherwise the system cannot determine which content culture to display.

    Creating a domain alias for a specific culture

The system now ensures the following:

  • The content culture is selected based on the domain name (presentation URL) through which the website is opened.
  • All page URLs are generated using the presentation URL to which the current content culture is assigned.

Authentication with multiple domains

The user context is not carried over when switching between domains on the live site. If you are using standard Forms authentication, registered users who change the content culture while browsing need to log in separately on each language version of the website.

If this is a problem, you can work around it by implementing a single sign-on mechanism for all domains.

Switching between URL formats

When you change the URL format for multilingual sites setting to either the Language prefix or Domain option, URLs are regenerated to comply with the new setting and the old URLs are permanently removed. Therefore, you need to manually handle any broken links or links incorrectly indexed by search engines that could be created by this change.

Using language prefixes for URLs

If you do not own a different domain name for each language version of the website, but still want to ensure unique URLs for each culture, you can use language prefixes. Language prefixes insert a subdirectory into the URL in format <domain>/<language prefix>/<URL path>, for example: <domain>/fr-FR/Home. The language prefix subdirectory always corresponds to the culture code of the respective culture.

To enable language prefixes in your URLs:

  1. Open the Settings application on the URLs and SEO tab.
  2. Set URL format for multilingual sites to Language prefix.
  3. Click Save.

If the language prefix URL format is enabled, the system generates URLs containing the appropriate URL prefix for all pages represented in the content tree automatically.

Hiding language prefixes for the default culture

You may want to use URLs without the language prefix for the most used (i.e. the default) content culture. To enable this:

  1. Open the Settings application on the URLs and SEO tab.
  2. Enable Hide language prefix in default culture URLs.
  3. Click Save.

All pages with the default content culture will have URLs without the language prefix, i.e. in the format <domain>/<URL path>.

Setting page URL slugs for different culture versions

Forcing culture domains or using language prefixes for URLs ensures that you have a different URL for every culture version of each page. You can change URL slugs of pages if you want different culture versions of pages to also have different names in the URL path.

For example, if you want the Articles page in French to have a different URL (slug) than the English version:

  1. Open the Pages application, and select the Articles page in the content tree.
  2. Select the French language in the selector below the content tree.
  3. Open the Properties -> URLs tab.
  4. In the Page URL section, set the URL slug of the page to /ArticlesFrancais.
  5. Click Save.

To try out how the custom URL works, sign out and view the English version of the website. If you open the URL <domain>/articlesfrancais (or <domain>/fr-fr/articlesfrancais if you use language prefixes), the website automatically switches the culture to French and displays the French version of the Articles page.

All child pages of the page with the edited slug will also have URLs with the corresponding URL path.

You can also configure various settings related to the format of URLs in the Settings application -> URLs and SEO, such as enforcing lowercase URLs or the use of trailing slash.

See Settings - URLs and SEO for more information.


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