Hreflang: What Are They And How they Impact SEO

Hreflang: What Are They And How they Impact SEO?

If your website features content in more than one language, you need to be familiar with and use the hreflang attribute. This post will discuss everything from the fundamental idea to its implementation and common problems.

What Is hreflang?

Web pages can be optimized for a specific language and audience using the hreflang HTML attribute. The hreflang tag informs search engines like Google of any language-specific versions of a page, ensuring that users receive the most up-to-date version. For example, if your website supports three different languages, you can link all pages together using hreflang so the search engines know all three pages are talking about the same thing. This might sound a little complicated, but it has significant benefits for SEO, especially the local SEO.

Why Are Hreflangs Important for SEO?

Suppose you have taken the time and SEO services to localize your content into multiple languages. In that case, you’ll want search engines to return the most relevant version to users.

According to Bing, the content-language HTML attribute, links, and the visitors themselves are more reliable indicators of a site’s language than hreflang. It is still better for official use, though. Yet, Google uses hreflang to find and connect equal content in different languages. As a result, Google gives all the pages the highest ranked page’s ranking.

For example, let’s say your website supports both English and French languages, and the pages of the same content are pointing to each other using hreflang. In this case, if your English content about topic “X” gets a high rank on Google, when people search for it in French, the french result will also be among the first results and vice versa.

Users have a better search engine experience when the results are in their native language. This positively affects SEO and rankings because it leads to longer periods spent on the page, fewer people leaving the page to return to the search results, and so on.

Another benefit of this for SEO is avoiding duplicate content in websites supporting similar languages. Take, for example, two versions of your page, one geared toward UK readers using British English spellings and the other toward US readers using American English spellings. As a result of their similarity, Google may decide only to index one of these pages.

Google can better understand the connection between these pages thanks to the Hreflang tags. It makes attempts to show the correct version on SERPs, but there might be malfunctions. There is no command for the use of hreflang tags. Localizing the content of pages that use the same language within a hreflang cluster is still recommended. It is possible to achieve this goal by adapting aspects such as pricing (e.g., USD vs. GBP) and language (e.g., trashcan vs. bin for the US vs. the UK). Because Google does not consider translated pages to be duplicated, this is not a problem.

Tips To Effectively Use Hreflangs For SEO

We spend our time and money on creating content. We generate URLs and get digital marketing services to boost their growth. Leaving out small details like hreflang might put a part of these efforts at risk. Here are some tips to avoid it.

Where do the hreflang attributes go?

The markup on the page itself, the HTTP header, or a sitemap can all house the hreflang attribute. Choose one of those areas to use.

What Does an hreflang Tag Looks Like?

A page’s hreflang attribute should contain links to the current page and all alternate versions of that page. The following would be an example of the hreflang attributes for a Spanish website’s homepage if it only sold Iberian ham to customers in Spain, France, and Portugal.

The alternate link is: link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com” hreflang=”es-es” />

alternate=’http://example.com/fr/’ hreflang=’fr-fr’ />

“link rel=” “alternative” href=”http://example.com/pt/

” hreflang=pt-pt “/>

Both the French and Portuguese versions of your homepage should have the same annotations.

ISO Language

Google accepts language codes in the ISO 639-1 format. You can get even more specific by using the ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format to signal your target region. It’s important to double-check before blindly pasting the wrong code all over your site because not all of the codes are intuitive (for example, the code for the UK is “gb,” not “uk”).

If you want to indicate that a page is for multiple languages, you can use multiple hreflang tags on that page. Indicating that the page is intended for speakers of Amharic in both Ethiopia and Eritrea, for instance, could look like this:

Alternate Link: link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com” hreflang=”am-et” />

An alternate link could look like this: link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com” hreflang=”am-er” />

To attract visitors from Djibouti and elsewhere in the world who speak Amharic, you should use a generic hreflang attribute without the region code.

alternate=’link rel=alternate href=’http://example.com’ hreflang=’am’ />

General Targeting with x-default:

Suppose your page offers content in multiple languages or prompts the user to choose their preferred language. In that case, you can use the x-default to indicate this. This is how it would appear:

Alternative Link: link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/” hreflang=”x-default” />

How Does Using Hreflang Tags Help SEO?

Using hreflang attributes won’t help you boost traffic; rather, they’re there to help you give users the information they’re looking for. They aid search engines in displaying a localized or translated version of the page in the search engine results page (SERP). Find out how ccTLDs (country-code top-level domains) can help your rankings through geotargeting. It might help you with optimizing landing pages in some scenarios.

This is basically the what, why, and how digital marketing agencies handle multi-language websites.

What Is The Difference Between An Hreflanf And a Canonical Url?

By canonicalizing, you can indicate to search engines which of two or more URLs for the same content should be prioritized, thereby avoiding duplicate content penalties. Instead, Hreflang is a tool that indicates which of the various (yet often similar) pages (based on language or region) should be returned in a search.

For optimal international and linguistic visibility, Google suggests avoiding using rel=”canonical” across your site’s localized versions. However, its use is limited to a specific region or language.

hreflang vs. ccTLD

Some may wonder what the difference is between hreflang and ccTLD urls. Why Google doesn’t use ccTLD to recognize the same content with different languages? Well, here is why:

This is a good way for hrefLang to work. On the other hand, a country-specific name like .co. UK can’t have the target set in the search console because .co. uk is always UK. That said, it should still be able to rank in France, and the hreflang should work just fine.

But how people think about something isn’t just important for SEO. For example, would someone searching in Paris think that a.co.uk address is useful to them? So, if you don’t want to buy a name for each country you want to localize for, I think a non-country tld or folder like.com/fr,.com/es, etc. would work better.

The Most Common Mistakes while Implementing hreflang

1. Absence of hreflang Self-Referencing Annotation

2. Return tag Errors

3. Using the wrong Language Codes

4. Mixing Up Canonical Tags and hreflang Tags

5. Not using Correct URLs

6. Adding href Tags to Broken Links(pages)