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TechSEO Boost 2018: Implementing Hreflang on Legacy Tech Stacks Using Service Workers, Does it Work?


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One of the challenges faced at enterprise SEO level is often the legacy platforms and tech stacks that you inherit. Finding a cost-effective way of implementing international SEO best practice is often a barrier to internationalisation. Edge technology is creating new opportunities to optimise websites independently of the inherited technological barriers. In this session,’s Dan Taylor will explore their findings from implementing Hreflang using cutting edge technology to remove these barriers.

Published in: Marketing
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TechSEO Boost 2018: Implementing Hreflang on Legacy Tech Stacks Using Service Workers, Does it Work?

  1. 1. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Implementing Hreflang on Legacy Tech Stacks Using Service Workers, Does it Work? – Can we really bypass legacy stacks & DevOps altogether?
  2. 2. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Why?
  3. 3. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
  4. 4. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Legacy issues, Devs… When working with a lot of big brands and enterprise clients, they often come with a lot of baggage, such as: • Congested development queues/long lead times • Gatekeeper devs who are, unhelpful • Old platforms/servers not scalable • Builds not originally scoped properly • Code freezes • Duct tape fixes preventing changes
  5. 5. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Case Study • International travel client with 15 international sites (including English for the US, English for AU, English for the UK…) • Running a very legacy stack (physical servers) • Unable to implement Hreflang due to platform restrictions through the HTTP Header or the XML sitemap… • Unable to implement Hreflang in the <head> due to developer resistance in changing the <head>
  6. 6. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Problems Faced • Content duplication across the multiple English alternate versions • Built on separate databases, so effectively 15 different URLs and websites with no real connection (aside from a header dropdown) • Incorrect versions ranking and competing in incorrect Googles (leading to users inquiring to the wrong sales team, increased costs of handling leads) • Tracking and attribution all over the place • And using an IP redirect…
  7. 7. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Solution. Cloudflare Workers.
  8. 8. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Cloudflare Workers provide a lightweight JavaScript execution environment that allows developers to augment existing applications or create entirely new ones without configuring or maintaining infrastructure.
  9. 9. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Why Cloudflare Workers? • Cloudflare Workers allow us to take control of the DOM before the website is served, and layering new technology without need to change old (edge tech) • Accessible from Cloudflare’s free account and cost effective to implement, and scalable • Taking back control from development restrictions
  10. 10. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Hreflang Service Workers
  11. 11. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Requirements • Placement within the <head> to prevent accidental issues with head-parsing • Needs to appear within the rendered HTML for Google to pick-up (Mobile Friendly Test) • Needs to work (duh) • Needs to be able to be validated easily • Accessible, scalable and manageable by non-developers/those with working code competency • Complimentary, and not cause conflicts or issues with existing infrastructure
  12. 12. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost
  13. 13. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Is it picked up in the rendered HTML? Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test (as advised by John Mueller) This shows that you can inject Hreflang to a legacy page through Workers, without server or CMS access, and it will be picked up by Googlebot.
  14. 14. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Does it work? Test markets: • English (primary) • French • Russian Tested through NordVPN in: • Google Chrome • YaBrowser – Query “Dan Taylor SEO”, French homepage – Query “Dan Taylor SEO”, Russian homepage – Query “Dan Taylor SEO”, Russian homepage
  15. 15. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Can it be validated & monitored? Validated through third-party Hreflang validation tools: • • • • • SiteBulb
  16. 16. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Accessibility & Scalability
  17. 17. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost How do we make this work for everyone? Accessible • Generators for Hreflang (and Redirects), either ”one by one” or CSV upload ( for free. • Documentation available on how to setup Cloudflare Workers Scalable • Able to be implemented through Cloudflare’s free plan at a cost of $5 for 10m requests, then 50c per 1m requests thereafter (can limit requests to bots only)
  18. 18. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost
  19. 19. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Hreflang is only the start.
  20. 20. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Future Use Cases Redirects • 301/302 redirects “Server” Logs • Pseudo log file tracking (useful for platforms like Demandware/Salesforce CC, and Shopify) Page Load Time Tracking Downtime & Error Discovery
  21. 21. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Future Use Cases #2 Content Modification • Banner/panel, primary copy, hiding content… • Canonicals, scripts, styles, JSON-LD schema, OG/Twitter Meta Tags • Fragment injection • Inject CSP (security headers, preventing XSS, CSRF) • Global overrides, i.e. maintenance mode
  22. 22. Dan Taylor | @TaylorDanRW | #TechSEOBoost Thank you! @TaylorDanRW | | @salt_agency