What is Tag Hreflang and how to use it to generate real results in international SEO – WAU
Does your company seek to grow in other countries using the digital marketing strategy? Then learn how to use the Hreflang Tag on your website or blog.
Marketing analysts need to be in constant contact with the niche and, when working for companies that aim to reach other countries, this includes knowing global markets. And, in terms of Digital Marketing, Hreflang Tag it is a fundamental item in this type of strategy.
If you don’t know what that tag is or exactly what it is for, don’t worry. We wrote this post with this intention and invite you to read it until the end so that you can understand, apply and have results from it. Come on?
What is Tag Hreflang?
Introduced by Google in December 2011, the hreflang attribute allows you to show search engines what is the relationship between web pages in alternative languages. That is, it is very useful when you create specific content for a local audience.
The Hreflang tag adds a signal to search engines at the moment when a user is making a query in a certain language and expects to find a result in that language instead of a page with similar content in another language.
For example, if you create an English version of your homepage originally made in London, you should mark it as “English” using hreflang = “en” so that people who have an IP address whose search engine has reason to believe an English-speaking country is shown on this page in English instead of London.
This can lower your bounce rate and increase your conversions, ensuring that your target audience reaches the version of your page that is most appropriate for them.
Hreflang can also be used to show that you have content aimed at variants of a single language. If so, you can target your pages even more specifically by extending the hreflang attribute with annotations that indicate which region the content is located in.
For example, for Spain hreflang is “es-es” while in Mexico hreflang is “es-mx”. This is particularly useful for segmenting users geographically and for controlling variations in currency, shipping, seasonality and culture.
Of course, other SEO factors can replace the hreflang attribute and make a different version of your page rank higher.
To provide search engines with the clearest possible signals about the language in which pages should be displayed and in which language, make sure you’re using other international SEO best practices, which we’ll talk about a little later.
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How does this tool work?
Now that you know what Tag Hreflang is, let’s see how it works.
Where the Hreflang Tag can be inserted
The Hreflang Tag can be placed in the markup on the page, in the HTTP header or on the sitemap. Use only one of these locations. If you choose the sitemap, the Hreflang Sitemap Tool can help you.
How to identify the Hreflang Tag
It must be referenced throughout the pages. If your site sells products to customers in London, Japan and Argentina, the hreflang attributes on your home page might look like this:
If you find other aspects in the content of your website (such as currencies, local address and phone number, for example), you are less likely to deal with such restrictions.
ISO language and region codes
The ISO 639-1 format is supported by Google for language codes, and you can go deeper using the ISO 3166-1 format to target specific regions.
However, not all codes are intuitive (for example, the code for South Africa is “za”). So, be careful not to enter the wrong code, The hreflang Tags Generator Tool can help.
You can use multiple hreflang tags on a page if you want to show that it is for users in more than one country or area. For example, if the page targets Spanish-speaking people in Colombia and Mexico, you can indicate this as follows:
Don’t forget to include a general hreflang attribute without the region code to capture Spanish-speaking researchers in Chile or other areas of the world from which you want traffic:
General targeting with pattern x
If your page displays content in multiple languages or only asks a user to select it, you can use x-default to show that the page is not specifically targeted. It looks like this:
How Tag Hreflang acts in ranking
While Tag Hreflang does not directly help increase traffic, it can deliver the right content to the right users. It helps search engines to switch the correct version of the page to SERP based on the location and language preferences of each visitor to your site.
Does my website need the Hreflang Tag?
Hreflang Tag is especially useful for companies looking to enter and grow in other countries and find out how to do it via Digital Marketing.
After all, unlike the cannonical tag, Google is able to identify the original and missing versions of the content since Tag Hreflang is able to show Google the differences between pages based on languages in order to differentiate them in a search.
How to deploy the Hreflang Tag?
To apply the Hreflang Tag, it is necessary, first of all, check that all translated pages on your site have the tag inside the HTML code.
After this verification, try to put the acronym of the language for which the translation was made, such as “es-es” in the case of Spanish from Spain or “en-uk” for English in England, for example.
Inserting the Default Tag is also important so that the contents are displayed to all people who search, since, even though there is no language specification on the computer with which he searches on Google.
To do this, simply enter the URL of the page and indicate which language or country you want to generate the code for, only afterwards, insert it into the tag.
If your website or blog is on WordPress, it already has a tool called Hreflang Tangs Lite with which you can create and insert the tag on a page or post.
If you do not understand programming and prefer a simpler version to insert the tag in HTML pages of your website or blog, you can use The Hrefland Tags Generatos Tool that generates a line of code with the tag that should be included in the HTML of its pages, especially those requiring international attention.
Therefore, the main purpose of the tag is not to increase traffic to your site, but to make the content reach the right audience since Google clears up confusion by indicating the right version of the content.
This makes a huge difference in the ranking of the content, as the pages of your website have the relevance calculated by the algorithm according to the way they are seen by users.
Thus, if your company has reach to other markets outside the country, Hreflang Tag can help to make the content appear to this audience in the right way, especially when they are allied with good international SEO practices. In fact, let’s talk about it now.
What is the relationship between Tag Hreflang and international SEO?
The first impression we have when thinking about SEO International is how to take a website to be reached by the public in other countries. We left this topic last in order to set an important point: the internationalization of a website is not just about translating it into another language.
It is also necessary to understand matters that are of global relevance, in addition to analyzing the competition that is inserted in each market.
And when we talk about doing it via SEO, there are three ways to do it:
1. via Hreflang Tag (as you can see from this post);
2. the URL address used in your domain;
3. content made for the target audience according to their location and language.
If the contents of the sites are only translations, this makes them irrelevant to the target audience of another country, as other aspects such as culture, economy and behavior must be taken into account. For this reason, it is necessary to compose another strategy when the objective is international reach
The URL is the most important factor for this adaptation, as this is what will make Google understand the country and language of a website. In this way, a URL can have a country code top-level domain (ccTLD), subdomain or subdirectory:
- ccTLD: URLs that have a country identification after the mark. For example: dominio.br
- subdomain: the region code comes before the brand, such as: www.domain.com
- subdirectory: region indicated at another level. For example: domain / br
As you can see, the hreflang attribute is essential to lower your bounce rate, increase your conversions and show that your blog has content geared towards single language variants.
Do you want to deepen your knowledge of organic reach? Then read our Complete SEO Guide!