Hreflang Tags: How to Get Great Results on International SERPs

Discover how hreflang tags boost your international SEO and improve user experience by helping search engines index multilingual content. Learn the benefits and easy implementation with Localize’s automated solutions.

Hreflang Tags: How to Get Great Results on International SERPs
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After you translate and publish your website in different languages, what’s next?

We recommend you focus on SEO to ensure search engines like Google, Bing, Yandex, and Baidu will index your site in specific languages.

Hreflang tags help boost your international SEO to make your content discoverable all over the world.

What is an Hreflang Tag?

One of the best practices for getting search engines to index your content in other languages is to add hreflang tags to all of your pages.

Hreflang tags are bits of HTML code that tell a search engine what language your content is available in. For example, this bit of code would tell Google that there’s a French version of your web page available.

Example hreflang tag:

<link rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="fr-fr"/>

Here's what it means:

  • rel=”alternate”: Designates this page has a relationship with another page
  • href: Specifies the URL where this alternate language page can be found
  • hreflang: Specifies the alternate language that is used in the page specified in the href attribute (e.g. 'fr' for French in this example)

Example search results:

Search engines use your site’s hreflang attribute to organize the list of sites on the search engine results page (SERP). Here’s an example.

If you search Google for IKEA in the US, you’ll get this result for the IKEA homepage written in American English (EN-US):

image: a screenshot of google search results with an american hreflang tag

If you search Google for IKEA when you’re in Germany, you’ll get this result with the German-language version:

image: a screenshot of google search results with a german hreflang tag

In these examples, DE stands for Deutschland (Germany) and US stands for The United States. Most businesses use standardized language codes (ISO 639-1)or country codes (ISO 3166-1) to denote the language or the region of their website.

Benefits of Hreflang Tags

If you’ve invested in website translation, then you’ll want search engines to show the appropriate results to your international users. Hreflang tags help you tell Google and other engines about different versions of a page. This helps people in different countries find your content in their native language.

Here are the perks of hreflang implementation for your multilingual or multi-regional website.

Improving Search Engines for Everyone

  • Believe it or not, most people around the world are not English speakers. Catering to the native language of your customers in search will improve their experience. This results in fewer people navigating away from your page, a lower bounce rate, and higher time on your page. Paying attention to searchers outside of the English-speaking world provides a better user experience for millions of people.

Positive Impact on SEO and Rankings

  • Hreflang tags can affect the rankings of multilingual variants of the same page. For example, if your English homepage ranks highly, you can use hreflang tags to help the Spanish, German, and French versions of the page have a similar ranking.

Avoiding Duplicate Content in Searches

  • Let’s say you have US and UK versions of your homepage that are nearly identical, apart from localized spellings. Hreflang tags help search engines index both versions—EN-GB (British English) and EN-US (American English). Without the tags, search engines like Google may view your multilingual web pages as duplicates and only index one version of the page.

Build an Hhreflang Tag

To build an hreflang tag Look up the two-letter ISO 639-1 language code for your preferred language, and fill in the tag. We recommend placing Hreflang tags in the HTTP header of your site.

Example 1:

Let’s build a tag for the German version of the Localize website:

Targeting German Speakers:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="" />

Example 2:

Let’s say we wanted to target people in a specific region or country. To do this, we can use ISO 3166–1 alpha‑2 format in our hreflang tags. For example:

Targeting English Speakers in Australia

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="" />

Targeting English Speakers in England

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="" />

Easy Hreflang Tags with Localize

Constructing and managing hreflang tags is simple with Localize. Localize's cutting-edge translation software makes international SEO easy and automatic.

We’ll help you add hreflang tags to every page on your site automatically so your content is discoverable in any language. It’s as simple as filling in a brief form on your SEO Language Settings page:

image: a screenshot showing how to add hreflang tags in Localize

To learn more about Localize, contact us today!

Wendy Madill
Wendy Madill
Content Marketing & Writing

Experienced content pro with years in SaaS and tech. I blend writing, editing, knowledge management, and content strategy to make tough technical topics easier.

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