In a move to unify the digital single market within the European Union, the EU has agreed on a proposal to open up legislation whereby consumers can make online purchases from other EU countries.
Not only will purchasing items be possible, but geo-redirects will potentially become an illegal practice. What does this mean for international eCommerce websites, SEO, and other channels?
EU Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip, who is responsible for the digital market within the EU, commented, “With the new rules, Europeans will be able to choose which website they want to buy from, without being blocked or re-routed. This will be a reality by Christmas next year”.
For internal websites, geo-redirects (‘re-routing’ in the words of Ansip) are an oft-used tactic; however, it appears that this approach will begin to infringe upon legislation as early as late 2018. What will this mean for your website?
At Croud we firmly believe in providing the user with the option of whether to be redirected to another localised version of the website, instead of using automated redirects. From an SEO point of view, this is easier to maintain and does not cause issues with the international nature of ‘web crawlers’ from search engines, as well as providing users with the best experience. A simple pop-up with the notification that the website is aware of the user’s location or browser-language will suffice, giving the user the option to stay or be moved to a potentially more suitable version of the site.
This practice fits perfectly with the EU’s ideas on how they want to introduce this new legislation. Reuters reported a key consideration: “Companies will no longer be able to re-direct consumers to a country-specific website without their consent.” Giving users control and requesting consent is something that should be taken seriously and we firmly believe that users should always have a choice when dealing with this kind of redirect.
In summary, we will continue to advise on structures where users are not automatically redirected and will provide the appropriate recommendations. This will primarily involve the implementation of Hreflang, a pop-up message and provision of user control and freedom to allow any version of the site to be viewed. The beautiful part of this strategy is that we are already prepared for when the European Parliament and its 24 member states submit their approval early next year.
If you have any questions on this subject or want to discuss further, please contact us.