International sites hreflang

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Information about International sites hreflang

Published on March 20, 2014

Author: dmitrysergiets



Webmaster Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Google filmed a video providing more details about expanding your site to more languages or country-based language variations. The video covers details about rel=”alternate” hreflang and potential implementation on your multilingual and/or multinational site.

Expanding your site to new languages or country-based language variations Maile Ohye Developer Programs Tech Lead Google

Agenda ● Search issues with international sites ● Background questions before you start ● Use cases ● Signals to help Google understand your international site <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=”” /> ● Best practices

Potential search issues ● Searchers of a particular language/region aren't shown a URL tailored to them when one exists Searching on What if there exists an equivalent URL for uk searchers? :(

Potential search issues (cont.) ● Search results might display two very similar URLs from your site, confusing users ● Search engines might not be aware of all language variations

Self-reflection before you start Is your team committed to... ● Developing an experience tailored to users of a different region/language? ● Creating, reviewing, maintaining newly written content for different users of your site? ● Supporting customers in a new region and/or language?

Ranking in one language/country ≠ Automatically ranking in a new language/country

Use case: Regional variations of the same language

Use case: Full translations (car, coche, auto!)

rel="alternate" hreflang to help Google understand your site

rel="alternate" hreflang Several places to explain markup ● On-page markup <link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="http://es." /> ● HTTP Header HTTP/1.1 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Link: <>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="es" Content-Length: 5710 (... rest of HTTP response headers...)

rel="alternate" hreflang (cont.) ● Sitemap with all variations for each URL <loc></loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href=""/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href=""/> ... ● Can submit one Sitemap if all sites are verified

rel="alternate" hreflang (cont.) ● Specify language (en), or both language and region (en-gb) <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="" />

rel="alternate" hreflang (cont.) Without a general language specified (imagine you had no general “en,” only “en-gb” and “en- us”), Google will behave as before we supported the hreflang annotation (i.e., we'll try to choose one of the versions that would be relevant to the user).

rel="alternate" hreflang (cont.) Specify x-default for pages (often homepages) that ● Autoredirect ● Serve dynamic content based on IP ● Act as a language selector (where users choose their preferred language) <link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" href="" />

rel="alternate" hreflang (cont.) Potential implementation at the Play store, both homepage and apps vary language based on user's IP ● ●

rel="alternate" hreflang (cont.) ● For duplicative URLs, such as URLs with sessionIDs ○ Include the proper rel=”canonical” ● On canonical URLs, specify rel=alternate hreflang values to the corresponding canonicals ○ No need to list hreflang values on non-canonical URLs

rel="alternate" hreflang (cont.) Most efficient configuration when dealing with duplicative URLs and rel=”alternate” hreflang

rel="alternate" hreflang (cont.) Specify all alternates on each page, including the page itself (whether with on-page markup, Sitemaps, or HTTP headers)

rel="alternate" hreflang (cont.) Can be on same or different domain (e.g., www. for "en", for "sp") ○ Subdirectory ■ ■ ○ Subdomain ■ ■ ○ ccTLD or gTLD ■ ■ ○ Different domains ■ ■

Targeting a specific country (for sites with a gTLD) Can still use Geographic target feature in Webmaster Tools ● Verified subdomains or subdirectories ● Not to be used for a generic language

rel="alternate" hreflang (cont.) May not be treated by other major search engines in the same manner.

Use case: Country-based variations of the same language

Use case: Full translations

Full translation and country-based variations

Benefit: rel="alternate" hreflang When implemented correctly, helps search engines like Google consolidate several indexing signals.

Benefit: Helps discovery of new URLs

Benefit: More targeted URL for searchers For searchers on Yay! Appropriate localized URL!

Best practices

Shareable URLs Each URL should be shareable: URL gives same information regardless of user’s IP or language preference ● It’s fine to autoredirect from x-default URL to language/country specific URLs ● Autoredirecting from one language URL to another language URL may prevent the crawling of all pages ● Dynamically serving different languages on one URL will allow only one language version to be indexed (whichever version was crawled)

Language and region not as parameter ● Parameters can be overloaded, more difficult for search engines to understand ● ccTLD, gTLD subdirectory, gTLD subdomain is fine

Use Unicode in URLs when necessary UTF-8 encoding in the path, filenames, URL parameters:élo-de-montagne.html becomes Be sure to test that your entire stack (server, database, CMS, etc.) supports UTF-8.

Build your business with your new language users Finding users in the new language who can recommend, link, and refer others to your site can help you business gain new customers.

Factor page speed Architecture must scale to new/more users and network distances. More Page Speed tips com/speed/pagespeed/ "Site performance for webmasters" video

Power to the user ● Ability to switch a page to their language of choice ● Enjoy a tourist experience (US English speaker purchasing while in Germany)

Reference resources! Working with multilingual sites Working with multiregional sites rel="alternate" hreflang rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" Webmaster discussion forum for internationalization Thanks!

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