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BrightonSEO - International Targeting with Hreflang Tags

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Not sure about how to correctly generate a hreflang tag? Lots of marketers know about the hreflang tag, but we still see so many people not implementing it correctly. Emily Mace, Head of International SEO, tackles the issue of the hreflang tag in her presentation from the recent BrightonSEO conference (April 2016). She will discuss how to make the most of hreflang tags, whether on page or in your sitemap file, and show you the common mistakes to avoid.

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BrightonSEO - International Targeting with Hreflang Tags

  1. 1. April 2016 International targeting with hreflang tags Emily Mace Head of International SEO @ObanDigital @IAmTheLaserHawk #BrightonSEO
  2. 2. What is a hreflang tag anyway? Language content to different countries Resolves duplicate content Identifies regional differences in language (Spanish for Spain and Spanish for Mexico)
  3. 3. What isn’t a hreflang tag? The same as a canonical tag A geotargeting tool which sends people to a location site by default – it’s not IP serving or like IP Serving
  4. 4. Who understands the hreflang tag? Who doesn’t? Use the HTML Language code for these! Understanding the Hreflang tag
  5. 5. GETTING IT RIGHT
  6. 6. How to use – on page In <head> section List all versions of a page available Syntax <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-ie" hreflang="en-ie" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-ca" hreflang="en-ca" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-au" hreflang="en-au" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en" hreflang="en" />
  7. 7. How to use – sitemap Same as on page just coded as XHTML:Link <url> <loc>http://www.example.com/english/</loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="http://www.example.com/deutsch/" /> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="de-ch" href="http://www.example.com/schweiz-deutsch/" /> </url>
  8. 8. Which way to choose? Smaller sites Larger sites, e-commerce sites, etc.
  9. 9. Don’t do both More chance you’ll get it wrong
  10. 10. Get your codes the right way round Language code first Then country code
  11. 11. “Call off Christmas!” Something went wrong
  12. 12. Can’t I just use canonical tags? Won’t help your international users see the right version of the site and could lead to pages not being indexed No Não NeinNai Nu Niet Non Nei NaiTidak Nage Nie Nil Aniyo Nej 没有 няма না Dili GeenJo አይ ‫ال‬ ոչ Yox Ez Ne Не Innò Ingen Nee Neniu Ei Hindi Όχι નં ʻAʻole ‫לא‬ नह ीं Tsis Nem Engin Níl ノー Ora ಯಾವುದ ೇ жоқ គ្មា ន 아니오 Na ບໍ່ ມີ ! Nē Tsia ഇല്ല Nru Kahore नाह Үгүй ээ မရှိသ ေးပါ कु नै ‫نه‬ ਕੋਈ Нет Leai Chan eil Che‫نه‬ නැත இல்லை తోబుట్టు వుల Hayır Немає ‫نہیں‬ Yo'q KhôngHayi ‫ניין‬ Ko si Cha
  13. 13. I’ve got IP Serving – that’ll work right? JUST NO!
  14. 14. COUNTRY AND LANGAUGE TARGETING
  15. 15. Get your language codes right <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/se" hreflang=“se-se" /> Swedish is SV not SE
  16. 16. Get your language codes right <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/at" hreflang="at-at" /> They speak German in Austria – not Austrian
  17. 17. Get your country codes right Some aren’t what you’d think Israel's code is? South Africa’s code is?
  18. 18. Get your country codes right Some aren’t what you’d think Israel's code is? IS is Iceland and IL is Israel South Africa’s code is? SA is Saudi Arabia and ZA is South Africa
  19. 19. Don’t make up countries <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/ar" hreflang=“ar- ar" /> AR is Argentina – NOT ARABIA <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/de" hreflang=“de- eu" /> EU is not a country – this won’t target German speakers in Europe!
  20. 20. Don’t forget the page you’re on Often see people leaving out the current page Listing alternatives only works if you include the current page Leave that out and the search engines will potentially ignore all the other hreflang tags for the content
  21. 21. Don’t overcomplicate things English .eu domain name hreflang tags <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.eu" hreflang="en-de" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.eu" hreflang="en-be" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.eu" hreflang="en-ch" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.eu" hreflang="en-pt" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.eu" hreflang="en-fi" /> And on and on and on One page for all those locations??????
  22. 22. Don’t overcomplicate things Try this….. <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.eu" hreflang="en" /> But really? People want content in their language, not English – thanks!
  23. 23. X-DEFAULT TAG
  24. 24. What’s the X-default option? This is my original website right? The canonical one which is most important? The one to serve to people who I’ve not covered….
  25. 25. X-default as your main site? NOPE
  26. 26. So why use X-default? Language selector page
  27. 27. Use real URLs Don’t use URL aliases Don’t use URLs which redirect All URLs in the hreflang should be the live version of the page else you’ll confuse Google
  28. 28. No returns! No Return Tag Errors – Google Search Console’s favourite moan Linking all over the place French Services Page English Services Page English Home Page
  29. 29. No returns! Not neatly from one thing to the same thing English service page French service page
  30. 30. No Mans Land code Code goes in the <head> not anywhere else Certainly not in no man’s land </head> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/at" hreflang=“de-at" /> <body>
  31. 31. Remember it’s like this <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-ie" hreflang="en-ie" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-ca" hreflang="en-ca" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-au" hreflang="en-au" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en" hreflang="en" />
  32. 32. Thanks and any questions? www.obandigital.com | +44 1273 613 400 | @ObanDigital | @IAmTheLaserHawk

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