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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 is part of the international SEO, offering the language of the region. Though English is widely accepted, international businesses tend to customize their website for each region to appeal to local customers.
So, if the bulk of your website visitors are from Spain, then a website in Spanish would be more appealing to them. And hreflang can help you here.
The above image shows the infamous “Wikipedia” webpage who uses hreflang to offer support their users worldwide.
If you are searching for the right hreflang tags to use in marketing campaigns, you’ve come to the right place!
This guide aims to provide you with all the necessary information on hreflang tags and how they can be used effectively. We’ll cover what hreflang tags are, when to use them, and how to properly implement them.
Let’s get started!
The hreflang tag is an HTML attribute showing which language and region a webpage is designed for. Doing so helps search engines direct users to the most suitable version of a page based on their language or regional preferences.
So, if you have a website in English, Spanish, and French, the hreflang tag ensures everyone lands on the right version.
Think of the hreflang tag as a friendly concierge of a global hotel. When visitors arrive from different countries, this concierge ensures they’re directed to the room that speaks their language.
In website terms, the hreflang tag tells search engines which language version of a page to display based on the user’s location or chosen language.
For instance, imagine you own a website selling software. You have two versions: one in English and another in Spanish. If a user from Mexico (where Spanish is the primary language) searches for your product, the hreflang tag will give them the Spanish version of your site.
Neat, right? Here’s a simple example:
For an English version (specifically for US visitors):
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-us” href=”https://www.example.com/en-us/” />
And for the Spanish version (let’s say for Spain visitors):
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-es” href=”https://www.example.com/es-es/” />
By placing these tags in the <head> section of your website, you’re essentially guiding search engines on which version to present to users.
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.
SaaS products are the future, and having a global audience is not a mere bonus – it’s a necessity. When software transcends borders, its online presence must reflect that inclusivity. This is where the hreflang tag gains prominence.
But why exactly is it pivotal for SaaS companies? Let’s discuss.
SaaS companies no longer restrict themselves to the home markets. Instead, they are reaching out to clients across continents, languages, and cultures.
A SaaS firm’s website must cater to this diverse audience. With hreflang tags, search engines can determine which language version of a page should be displayed to users. Thus, a SaaS company can seamlessly cater to its English-speaking clients in the US while simultaneously attending to its Spanish-speaking clients in Spain.
It’s not just about visibility – it’s about relatability.
Imagine this – you’ve translated your content into multiple languages, ensuring a wider reach. However, search engines get confused. They see multiple versions of what seems like the same content.
The result? Your pages could get penalized for duplicate content.
Hreflang tags are the solution. By marking which version of a page is the original and which are translations, these tags signal to search engines the distinct purpose of each page. This clarity prevents your multilingual pages from cannibalizing each other’s rankings.
Personalization is key in today’s digital landscape.
Users expect tailored experiences. With hreflang tags, SaaS companies can provide content that resonates with the specific preferences and expectations of users from different regions.
For instance, a business management software firm might display different pricing or features to a user in India compared to one in Germany. Such user-centric content can enhance the overall experience, encouraging visitors to become customers.
Hreflang tags are imperative for SaaS companies to secure a place in international markets. It ensures that as they stretch their reach across borders, they’re not just seen, but they’re also understood, appreciated, and chosen.
Technical SEO is quite intricate. One wrong step and your site could lose vital visibility and ranking. Among the elements you must focus on, the hreflang tag is essential for global outreach.
However, even seasoned webmasters can sometimes slip up. Here’s a closer look at some common mistakes with hreflang implementation:
Precision is key when dealing with hreflang tags. Using the wrong language or country code can mislead search engines about the content’s intended audience.
For instance, a page meant for French speakers in France should use the hreflang value “fr-fr”. Errors here can mean your French-Canadian audience gets content meant for France or vice-versa.
The web of hreflang tags should be interconnected, with every version linking back to the original.
Think of this as giving credit where it’s due. This “self-referencing hreflang tag” offers a clearer understanding for search engines about the connection between various language versions of a page.
Let’s say you have a section of your website that remains solely in English. You might think, “No translation, no need for hreflang, right?” Wrong!
Even for non-translated content, including hreflang tags is vital. It informs search engines that this particular content doesn’t have other language counterparts.
It’s crucial to ensure relevance. There’s no point in using hreflang tags for content that doesn’t match a user’s location or language. It just creates confusion.
If you’ve instructed search engines not to index a page (using a “noindex” directive), there’s no point in having hreflang tags on it. They won’t be acknowledged.
Ensure that the pages you’re using hreflang tags for are canonicalized. If search engines don’t view a page as the master version, the hreflang tag won’t work as intended.
This seems obvious, but it bears repeating. Ensure you’re using hreflang tags correctly, whether in the HTML head, HTTP header, or XML sitemap.
Avoiding these common pitfalls can lead your website to global success.
Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide to get you started:
Begin by pinpointing the languages and regions you aim to cater to.
Your business objectives will guide this choice. If, for instance, your offerings cater to both the US and Canada, you’d need to focus on English (en) for the US and both English and French (fr) for Canada.
Now that you have clarity on your target audience, it’s time to create the hreflang tags. Every hreflang attribute carries three crucial pieces of information:
Using our earlier example, if you wish to direct search engines towards an English page for US-based users, the tag would look like:
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-us” href=”https://www.example.com/en-us/” />
Armed with your hreflang tags, you must now insert them into your website’s structure. These tags should comfortably nestle within the <head> section of your website’s HTML.
You wouldn’t drive a car without testing the brakes, right?
Similarly, once the hreflang tags are in place, verify their functionality. Utilize hreflang checker tools available online. These tools will inform you if the tags are functioning as they should or if there’s a misstep you need to address.
The digital landscape evolves, and it’s vital to ensure your hreflang tags continue to serve their purpose.
Employ hreflang monitoring tools. Regular checks will ensure that the tags are directing search engines accurately and enhancing the user experience for your international audience.
Hreflang tags are the bridge connecting your content to its intended international audience. It’s not just about implementation but ensuring it’s done right. Hope this helps you with implementing the hreflang tag on your website.
There are two methods for incorporating hreflang tags into a WordPress website: implementation and utilizing a plugin.
1. Access your WordPress dashboard. Go to Appearance > Theme Editor.
2. Locate the file. Open it in a code editor.
3. Insert the following code within the <head> section of the file;
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-us” href=”https;//www.example.com/en-us/” />
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr-fr” href=”https;//www.example.com/fr-fr/” />
Replace en-us and fr-fr with language codes for your targeted pages.
4. Save the modified header.php file. Upload it to your website.
There are plugins that facilitate adding hreflang tags to your WordPress website. Here are some popular options;
To add hreflang tags using a plugin. Activate the desired plugin, then refer to its documentation for instructions.
After you’ve included hreflang tags on your WordPress site, you can verify their effectiveness by utilizing a tool specifically designed for checking hreflang implementation.
When using hreflang tags, it’s essential to consider the web page’s content. Why? Because hreflang is about serving the most appropriate language or regional URL to the user.
Here’s what you should know:
The primary reason for using hreflang is to indicate the language and/or regional targeting of a page. Hence:
When creating content for different regions/languages:
Regardless of the language or region:
Language isn’t just about text:
Just as with any web content:
While content may change across languages and regions, maintain consistent branding elements. This can be anything from logos and color schemes to core messaging.
Regions evolve, and cultural trends shift. Regularly review and update content to ensure it remains relevant to the local audience.
Hreflang tags help search engines serve the right version of content to users. But the responsibility doesn’t end at just implementing the tag correctly. The content itself needs to be meticulously curated, ensuring it is culturally and linguistically appropriate for the targeted audience.
Hreflang tags are a crucial part of SEO for companies looking to reach a global audience. This would offer the best user experience and localized content that accurately reflects local culture and language. With the right attention to detail, you can create an effective multilingual strategy to reach more users worldwide.
Follow the guide we have discussed to implement the hreflang tag on your website. Also, remember the content strategy you should follow for pages with hreflang tags. With a little extra effort, you can ensure that your website delivers optimal experiences across languages and regions.