HREFLang Builder Benefits

Multinational companies have struggled for years to get the local versions of their site ranking in their respective countries.  Most rank reports have simply recorded any page ranking as a win without consideration to it being the correct page.  Not having the local version of the page ranking creates problems with language, currency

Benefits of HREFLang XML SIte Maps Builder

There are a number of key benefits to using our HREFLang Builder:

Time and Cost Savings: 

Without HREFLang Builder, a global company typically spends 20 to 50 hours to manually develop and implement HREFLang XML Site Maps.   Due the size of the files and number of URL’s it cannot be managed in Excel.  The alternative is to embed HREFLang elements in the pages which adds 3kb to 80kb of text depending on the number of entries slowing down pages.  Additionally, estimated development costs between $15k to $60k and 3 to 6 months to add into the CMS. 

For an organized site, using HREFLang Builder takes less than 1 hour to implement.   

Importing & Mapping Alternative Pages to Each Other

HREFLang Builder imports URL’s from existing XML maps, Excel, CSV, Deep Crawl and Screaming Frog segmenting them into countries and language.  The HREFLang element works by telling the search engine that pages B and C are alternative language versions of page A.  You then have to state that they are also alternates to each other.

We built a Regular Expression Engine that would detect the one of 127 different URL structure formats used to designate country and/or language.   By using regex rules, we can accommodate for the use of multiple variations and even parameters in the URL’s which makes this scalable for even the most dysfunctional web operations team.  

Error Detection and Management

Submitting hundreds of error laden XML site maps can be devastating to a site’s crawl budget.  Search engines will reduce their crawl rate significantly if even 1% of the submitted pages in a site map have errors resulting in significant missing pages.  URL’s are checked for robots, canonical, and header rules. By excluding pages with errors from the final XML exports we ensure that 100% of submitted URL’s can be indexed quickly maximizing crawl allocation.  These error reports can be exported and shared.

Dynamic Updates

Manual updates would labor intensive so once a job is created it can be refreshed automatically at a desired interval then export or upload new XML files.   

Missing Language Pages Monitoring

Our Missing Pages mapping function was originally developed to find gaps in country URL lists.   It has become a popular tool to monitor missing, non-localized and in some cases, rogue market pages.  As many CMS systems do not create a page if it has not been localized many pages may be missing from dynamic XML site maps. 

The implmentation of HREFLang XML site maps has lead to significant opportunity recovery for clients, which is the reason this product should be used by every multinational to quickly and easily manage the inclusion and of their gloal XML site maps.   


Using Screaming Frog to Find In-page HREFLang Mark-up

Our HREFLang Checker is a great tool if you are checking a single page and its alternatives.  However, if you need to check your entire site and identify pages with hreflang mark-up there are not many options.   With the new release of Screaming Frog 6.0 it is amazingly easy to do.  You simply set it once and Screaming Frog will automatically add additional columns for the elements it encounters which is a huge time savings over the previous version. 

 You have been able to check some of your pages with earlier editions of Screming Frog but was a pain to set up and you could only check up to 10.  If you have not upgraded yet and want to do it you can set it up using a excellent step by step guide from Justin McKinney at WPromote.   You can also generate a similar report with DeepCrawl which I will profile shortly.

Setting UP Screaming Frog to Find HREFLang Mark-Up

Start wtih opening Screaming Frog and click the Configuration option in the top navigation then click Custom > Extraction and it will bring up the Custom Extraction Module.

Once you choose "Extraction" it will open a new screen.  Once open enable the following settings:

Step 1 -  Replace Extractor 1's title with one of your Own - I used "HREFLang" but you can name it anything you want. 

Step 2 - Choose "XPath"

Step 3 - Copy or type (//*[@hreflang])/@hreflang into the box - if you added it correctly you will get the green check mark.  If not a red X

Step 4 - Click OK.   

Set the rest of your crawl configurations and run the report.  Once complete, you can view your results by clicking "Custom" in the subnavigation area.   As noted, the HrefLang2, HrefLang3, etc are added for you.  Before we had a limit of 10, but in this case I was able to get all 24 different elements. 

Like most results in SF, you can export the results.  Click "Export" and choose export format of Excel or CSV

Bonus Steps: 

While a fast and easy way to gather all of your HREFLang elements in a single export it does not check them for accuracy.  As you can see in some of the rows above there are errors.  Suggest you take a random sample of the pages and put them into our HREFLang Validation Tool which tests 30 different variables. 

Some of the errors that we see in this result are: 

1.  All pages seem to have a "en" setting but none of the other languages and those pages do not reciprocate with alternate tags.

2.  The country/region code for the UK is incorrect it should be GB

3.  The language code for Japan should be "ja" and not "jp" which is the country code

4.  A big error that Screaming Frog did not detect, nor its it designed to detect, the site is using the same country/language URL for all HREFLang entries on a page.  While it has 24 HREFLang rows all of them used the same URL. This can be ok to use the same URL for regional URL's but not every country and every language in this case.  This would tell the search engien that the Spanish language Latin America page is the page for Japan which is not correct.   

Note:  While there is no limit to the number of HREFLang Elemets you can add to a page we suggest keepig it under 5.  If you start adding too many the code adds up.  For more information read our Help Guide on Too Many HREFLang Elements