Nowadays, businesses are global and investing in personalising the user experience for their customers in each country with geo targeted websites and content. As a result, developers can now use Hreflang tags to help Google understand each website and page on your website more efficiently and ensure that users in each country are being served the correct version of the brand's website or pages. This blog delves into what Hreflang tags are and how to implement and monitor them correctly.
A Hreflang tag tells Google what language is being used on a specific page on your website, so that Google can serve that page to users searching in that language. You can have Hreflang tags on specific pages on your website or globally across entire websites.
Google recommends you use hreflang tags if you have:
This is an alternative name for a hreflang tag, albeit, more complex. The tag sends a signal to search engines that a user who is searching using the language 'x' will want this page as opposed to the similar content in language 'y'.
For example, if you created a French version of your English homepage, you would tag it as being in French by using the hreflang='fr' so that users searching in a French speaking country (based on IP) are served that page as opposed to the English version.
You can also show that pages on your website are targeting different versions of the same language. For example, you would use the hreflang tag 'en-gb' to target English-speaking users in the United Kingdom. In addition you would use the hreflang tag 'en-us' to target Americans, 'en-au' to target Australians and so on.
Hreflang tags help to decrease your bounce rate and increase your conversions because you are ensuring that your users are finding the most appropriate page for them within your brand's website and content. It will help to improve the overall user experience with your brand and avoiding frustration for your customers.
Unfortunately, it is very easy to make a mistake with hreflang tags so we have put together a quick checklist of best practices to help you implement and monitor your tags on your site.
The hreflang tag should be placed in the on-page markup, the HTTP header or in the sitemap. The best pace to add the tag is in your sitemap - review this article from Google Support on placing the tag in the sitemap.
A hreflang tag looks like this:
There are multiple options for implementing hreflang tags that are covered in detail in this Moz article.
This is one of the first ways in which a hreflang can be implemented incorrectly - by selecting the incorrect code for the targeted country. For example, the United Kingdom code is not 'uk' but 'gb'. Luckily for developers, the International SEO Map has provided a Hreflang Tags Generator Tool to help avoid error in selecting codes.
If you make these seemingly minor mistakes, Google will not recognise your hreflang tag:
The best place to monitor the implementation of your hreflang tags is in Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console) under Search Traffic - International Targeting. If Google thinks you have incorrectly implemented hreflang tags, the errors will filter into this section with information on how to fix the errors.
Tell us your stories about hreflang tags. Is this the first you have heard of them or have you experienced implementing them yourself?
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January 9, 2020
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