HREFLang Tag Overview

The HREFLang Tag is a meta tag that helps search engines understand the relationships of local country and language versions of similar pages.  By implementing it you acknowledge potential duplication of content and signal your specific request to have them associated with their representative countries or languages.

Sample Code Snippet

<link rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="en-us" /> <link

rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="en-gb" /> <link

rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="es-es" /> <link

rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="en-au" />

In this example above from a Global Home page that also acts as the US home page, we are are telling the search engine the following: We have 4 versions of the same page but they are unique to their respective counties.  In this case the home page for the US, UK, Spain and Australia are country alternatives of each other.

When to Use HREFLang Tags?

If you have multiple country or language versions of your website you are a prime candidate for this functionality.  Especially if you have multiple English and/or Spanish language versions of the site this can be helpful in distinguishing them apart.  It is very common for Google especially to show a global or US page in a local search engines.   If you review some of the case studies such as the Absolut Vodka HREFLang Case Study you will see that when they added the HREFLang XML site map it almost immediately corrected their listings in the search engines increasing local traffic exponentially.

Required Elements:

You MUST include a reference to the page you are placing the code as well as all alternative pages.  In the example above we have 4 alterniave pages and all 4 pages have this same block of code.

Pros of HREFLang Tags

The biggest pro to using HREFLang Tags in your pages is they ensure a 1 to 1 match to each of the alternative pages.  This of course is If you are currently using a localized folder structure for your site this is often the ONLY method available as it requires your CMS logic to match the different language versions.

Cons of HREFLang Tags

Note:  Hreflang is only a signal to the search engines and not a specific directive and other factors such as links from a specific market can cause a different country or language version to rank higher in the local market.  However, in our experience of doing hundreds of HREFLang implementations they have worked in nearly 100% of the time.


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