International domains

International domains can help you expand your business to a global audience by creating shopping experiences in local languages and currencies. If you use only one language and currency to target customers from a specific country or region, then you might exclude customers who use other local languages and currencies.

What are international domains?

An international domain or subdomain is a URL that's specific to a country or region.

You can use international domains to create local shopping experiences for specific countries or regions by displaying your Shopify store in the customer’s local currency and language. You can set up international domains and subdomains with both Shopify-managed domains and third-party domains. To use international domains, your account must be on the Shopify, the Advanced Shopify, or the Shopify Plus plan.

When you set up international domains, you can use top-level domains, subdomains, or a combination of both. For example, you can use your-shop-name.com in the United States, where your online store appears in English and shows prices in USD. In France, where your online store appears in French and shows prices in EUR, you can use your-shop-name.fr or fr.your-shop-name.com. International domains improve localized shopping experiences and can help with selling internationally.

Benefits of setting up international domains

If you want to grow your business globally, then international domains can help you position your business as a global brand.

International domains can have the following benefits for your online store:

  • create localized shopping experiences
  • appeal to a global market
  • ensure that your store meets SEO best practices.

Create localized shopping experiences

Localized experiences affect how customers perceive a brand and how quickly they make a purchase. When online stores appear in a customer’s local language and currency, customers are more likely to make a purchase. By displaying your Shopify store in multiple local languages and currencies, you can customize the shopping experience to international customers.

Appeal to a global market

International domains can help you expand your business to a wider audience. By setting up international domains, you can do the following:

  • attract customers from other countries or regions
  • build your reputation as an international brand.

Ensure that your store meets SEO best practices

International domains help search engines display the correct region-specific domain when your store appears in search results. For example, search results for customers in the United States display a different URL than search results for customers in Germany. When you set up international domains for a country or region, your products are automatically displayed in the customer’s local currency and language.

International domains have the following SEO benefits for your online store:

  • Hreflang tags are automatically added to your store. These tags help search engines target a page to the right audience based on your customer’s location.
  • Sitemap files are generated for each domain and language. You can submit these sitemaps into Google Search Console.

Requirements for setting up international domains

Consider the following when you set up international domains:

  • To use international domains, you must be on the Shopify plan, Advanced Shopify plan, or Shopify Plus plan.
  • To create international domains for your store, you need to add a domain for every country or region where you want to offer a localized shopping experience.
  • The domains or subdomains need to be specific to a country or region, such as johnsapparel.de for Germany. However, you must use custom domains. You can't use your default myshopify.com domain.
  • There might be restrictions or requirements for specific countries or regions when you buy a top-level domain through Shopify. For example, to use a .ca domain for Canada, you need to meet certain residency and business registration requirements. If you can’t meet these requirements, then you can use a subdomain or purchase a top-level domain from a third-party domain provider and connect it to Shopify.
  • Subdomains must use two letter country codes. For example, if you currently sell in the United States using johnsapparel.com and you want to expand to Australia, then use au.johnsapparel.com.
  • To use international domains, you must sell in multiple currencies using Shopify Payments. Selling in multiple currencies lets you set up a local currency for each country or region where you want to set up an international domain. You can set up the currencies that you want to offer in your payments settings.
  • If you sell in multiple languages using international domains, then you need to translate the content of your online store by adding your own translations using CSV files, or by using a compatible third-party app. If you want to display your store in only one language, then you can target countries or regions that speak the same language.

Set up an international domain

  1. From your Shopify admin, go to Online Store > Domains.
  2. Next to the domain or subdomain that you want to customize, click Manage.
  3. For non-primary domains, select Don't redirect to the primary domain to see the domain management options.
  4. Choose the languages and country or region that you want associated with that particular domain.
  5. Click Save.

Set up international targeting in Google Search Console

International targeting, also known as geo-targeting, lets you show the correct version of your store to local customers in a specific country or region. For example, if you sell only to customers in the United States, then you can set your store's target country to the United States. You can set a target country or region for each of your store's domains or subdomains in Google Search Console.

If you’re on the Shopify plan or higher and using international domains to sell to multiple countries or regions, then verify each of your domains in Google Search Console. To set the target country or region for each store in Google Search Console, go to Legacy tools and reports > International targeting. For more information on setting up international targeting in Google Search Console, refer to Google Search Console Help.

Switch between international domains

International domains increase the chance that customers from different countries or regions visit the correct version of your site. When visitors don't land on the correct domain, you can automatically redirect them based on their location.

To enable automatic redirection, complete the following steps:

  1. From your Shopify admin, go to Online Store > Preferences.
  2. In the Domain redirection section, click Enable.

After you enable automatic redirection, visitors to your online store are automatically redirected when they land on the wrong domain based on their location. For example, if you use a .com domain to target the United States and a .ca domain to target Canada, then a Canadian visitor who lands on johns-apparel.com is automatically redirected to johns-apparel.ca.

If you have a country selector in your theme, then visitors to your online store can still switch manually between international domains. You can use the free Geolocation app to add country selectors if your theme doesn't already have them.

International domains FAQ

Do I need to buy international domains for every country or region?

No, you can use subdomains on your primary domain for each country or region. For example, if your primary domain is your-store-name.com, then you can set up a domain for Canada as ca.your-store-name.com, or buy and use your-store-name.ca.

Can I display unique content across different international domains?

You can use the request.host Liquid filter to display unique content across different domains. This is an advanced tutorial that requires knowledge of Shopify Liquid.

How do International domains affect SEO results?

Hreflang tags and sitemaps are automatically set up for every domain. These elements enable search engines to return search results with domains that are specific to the customer's country or region. Submit a sitemap for every international domain that you set up. If you have automatic redirection enabled, then Shopify uses temporary redirects between international domains. These temporary redirects allow search engines to discover and index all of your URLs.

Can my customers switch between languages and currencies if the default is not their preference?

Yes. To provide your customers with the ability to switch between languages and currencies, you need to add language and currency selectors to your theme. Your theme might have a built-in currency and language selector. If you use Shopify’s Geolocation app, then you can add selectors and IP address-based recommendations for your customers.

Can I assign multiple countries or regions and currencies to one domain?

No, you can only have one country or region and currency assigned to each domain. If a country or region is assigned to a domain, then you can't assign that country or region to another domain.

Should I add every language to a domain?

No, only make domains for the languages that you think your core customers will use. Adding too many languages that aren't relevant to a domain can have a negative impact on your SEO rankings.

Why does my store only appear in one language after I add domains and assign languages to them?

Whenever translations don't exist, your online store shows content in your primary language. You can translate the content of your online store by adding your own translations using CSV files, or by using a compatible third-party app. International domains don't translate your content for you.

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