A Guide To Hreflang Tag For SEO Oct 27, 2022 |  

For those new to the world of SEO and digital marketing, an hreflang tag is a little like a country code. Using the Hreflang tag, it is possible to specify the language in which your linked content should be displayed.

This allows you to create a “link farm” and get credit for your foreign language content being published in other languages, even if it wasn’t your content.

You can use hreflang tags on any linkable resource, like blog posts or web pages. They also work for internal links between sites on the same domain (like linking from one page to another).

What Is Hreflang Tag?

What Is Hreflang Tag?

An Hreflang tag is a piece of HTML (or XHTML) that tells search engines where to find your content in another language. It lets you tell Google, Bing and Yahoo! which other language version of your site you want to show.

For example, if you have a website in English and one in Spanish. In that case, you can add an hreflang tag for each language, telling Google or Bing which versions of your site to display:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/es/”> <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/en/”>

The hreflang tags can be placed at the beginning or end of any URL on your website. They don’t have to be on every page; they only need to be on pages available in different languages.

An hreflang tag is a snippet of HTML that the search engine crawler can pass along to the correct robots.txt file, making it clear to those bots which pages they should index.

The hreflang tag has three parts:

Location: The domain of the page you want to target with your hreflang tag. For example, if you want Google to crawl your site in French, you must add the lang=fr keyword to your hreflang tag.

Language: The language code for your target language. For example, en or fr. You may also use country codes (US) or language codes (en-GB) depending on how many languages and countries you support (for example, en:fr:de).

Target: The root page for which you want this page to be considered as a candidate for translation into a specific language; for example, index.html

What is the purpose of a hreflang tag?

What is the purpose of a hreflang tag?

The purpose of a hreflang tag is to specify the language and country in which your page is written. The tag is placed in the header of your web page, and it tells Google and other search engines that you want to show up in searches for users searching for pages in the specified language and country.

For example, if you’re writing a blog post about Moscow, Russia, and you want to show up in Google search results when someone types “Moscow,” you would insert this tag:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-ru” href=”http://en.moscow/food-restaurants/chicken-shish-kabobs/” />

Google understands the relationships between these pages with the help of hreflang tags. The search results will display the correct version as much as possible, but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. In contrast to directives, hreflang tags are signals. Whether an hreflang cluster uses one language or more, localising the content of every page that uses the same language is still recommended. Localising pricing, language variants, and so forth can help you accomplish this. Google does not consider translation duplicates since they are not construed as such.

How To Implement The Hreflang Tags?

How To Implement The Hreflang Tags?

Implementing the hreflang tags is a simple process. Once you have the correct sitemap, you can set up your sites to automatically implement this tag.

  1. Include a <link> element with rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x-y” in your site’s sitemap.
  1. When creating new pages or posts on your site, add an <hreflang> element with a value of x-y to the <head> of each page or post.
  1. If you’re using WordPress, add a plugin like hreflang_sync (or another) to your site that will sync the hreflang information between all of your sites’ pages and posts using XML sitemaps generated by this tool called HrefTrack.

Once you have reached this point, you will probably believe this is very difficult. Yes, we agree – when we first became aware of it, we considered the same thing. However, implementing hreflang is not difficult if you know where to look for the right tools.

hreflang XML sitemap generator

hreflang XML sitemap generator

A tool has been developed by the digital marketing company Erudite to generate XML sitemaps with hreflang. The XML sitemap is then created by feeding CSV URLs for each language. To create a sitemap, you must first complete this step.

For this XML sitemap generator, you must feed it a CSV file with a column for each language. In that case, you would create a column called x-default to store the x-default URL.

hreflang tag generator

hreflang tag generator

It is a great tool that helps you generate hreflang tags. Making some example code is helpful even if you don’t use a link element implementation.

Maintaining hreflang

The next step is to set up maintenance processes once you’ve set up a working hreflang setup. A regular audit of your implementation is probably a good idea to ensure it is still operating as intended.

The members of your company who deal with the content on your site will need to be aware of hreflang in order to avoid errors from breaking the implementation of your site. Here are two things you should keep in mind:

  • Verify that its counterparts have been updated after a page is deleted.
  • Its counterparts should have their hreflang URLs changed whenever a page is redirected.

That, along with regular audits, should prevent any issues from arising.

Where To Place The Hreflang Tag?

Where To Place The Hreflang Tag?

The hreflang tag is no different from any other tag. There are three ways to place the hreflang tag on your website:

In a header or footer: The hreflang tag appears at the top or bottom of every page. It works best when placed in a header or footer because it’s more likely to be seen by search engines and is easier for users to notice.

In an HTML element: The hreflang tag can appear anywhere inside your HTML code, but it’s most commonly found in <head> or <body> elements.

In the HTML attribute of a link element: This is the easiest method recommended by Google. It allows you to add multiple links with one tag, so you don’t need to repeat yourself when linking multiple pages within your site.

Why Your Sitemap And Hreflang Tags Are Not Enough?

The sitemap and hreflang tags are great for SEO, but they’re not enough.

Sitemaps tell search engines what pages on your site you want them to crawl. Hreflang tags tell Google and Bing which languages you want them to serve.

The problem with these two elements is that they’re not very flexible. You can’t change the content of a page after it’s crawled by changing its sitemap or hreflang tag, so if you update the URL or change the language, you’ll have to change each one separately. And if your site had ever had a 404 error page showing up when someone searched for a specific query (like “404” or “500”), this won’t help much either—you’ll have to fix that as well manually every time it happens.

In the past, Google has encouraged website owners to use their sitemaps and hreflang tags for SEO. They are the two most important factors for search engines to crawl your site.

However, a new way to create links can be used on your website to increase your search engine rankings.

Google is now looking at this new type of link as a valuable resource for your business, and it’s called “link juice.” 

Link juice is the term used to describe the value of a link from one website to another.

The more links your site has and the more relevant they are, the more search engines will value it.

The reason for this is that Google places more emphasis on website authority than it does on page rank.

If a page has many links pointing to it from other websites with high authority, then it will be ranked higher by Google.

Common Hreflang Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Common Hreflang Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

It’s essential to avoid common Hreflang mistakes and ensure you’re using the most appropriate Hreflang tags for your product. There are a lot of SEO mistakes that can be made in the process of implementing hreflang tags. Here are some of the most common hreflang mistakes and how to avoid them:

1. Using the wrong hreflang tag

2. Not using a canonical tag

3. Not including your target country in the hreflang tag

4. Not having the same content in both languages

How To Test Your Hreflang Implementation With Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is the first place to start testing your hreflang implementation. Here you can see your current language and country combinations, along with a breakdown of how many pages are available in each language. If you do not see any results for a specific language, there’s no content available in that language on your site — and that’s something you need to work on.

You can also use Google Search Console to see how well your site ranks for different keywords like “health” or “travel.” If none of your pages shows up for these categories, then there’s a good chance you’re missing out on valuable traffic because people aren’t finding what they’re looking for when searching for those terms.

Finally, you can test your implementation using Google Search Console to see how well it’s working. You first need to create an account on Search Console and add your domain there if you haven’t already done so. Then go to Search Traffic > Site Content > Hreflang Implementation. This will show you the hreflang information that currently exists on your site. You can also use this screen to change or add any new languages you want to support with hreflang markup.

Final thoughts

Hreflang is a set of meta tags that sites can use to indicate which language their page is written in and what language Google should crawl the page. If a site has multiple pages on the same domain but has a different content, you can use hreflang to tell Google which language they are in. This will help you rank better for those queries.

There are numerous benefits to using hreflang tags on your site, and we encourage you to implement them for your next project whenever possible. If you already have a multi-lingual site, you should add hreflang tags. And if you’re not currently serving content in multiple languages, now might be the time to consider doing so.


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