For those of you who have worked on multinational and/or multilingual websites from an SEO perspective you know that there are many things to consider. Furthermore, when you are dealing with a website on that level there is often a lot at stake, so you want to make sure you get it right. With the idea of perfected execution in mind, this post will reveal a new HTML, HTTP Header and/or sitemap annotation that Google has released for multinational and multilingual websites. Let’s take a look.
According to Google, “The homepages of multinational and multilingual websites are sometimes configured to point visitors to localized pages, either via redirects or by changing the content to reflect the user’s language. Today we’ll introduce a new rel-alternate-hreflang annotation that the webmaster can use to specify such homepages that is supported by both Google and Yandex.”
This new annotation is the “x default hreflang.” So this markup really does two things.
1. You can tell Google that this is a page for all languages (that is what the new “x default hreflang” does)
2. Or you can tell Google that this is a page for a specific region or language
First, here are the URL examples.
http://example.com/en-gb: For English-speaking users in the UK
http://example.com/en-us: For English-speaking users in the USA
http://example.com/en-au: For English-speaking users in Australia
http://example.com/: The homepage shows users a country selector and is the default page for users worldwide
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/en-gb” hreflang=”en-gb” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/en-us” hreflang=”en-us” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/en-au” hreflang=”en-au” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/” hreflang=”x-default” />
So as we can see the main purpose of these annotations is to tell Google that this page does not target a language or a location. Or it alerts Google that it does and the page is an alternate of another page for that region and location. Of course the only thing new is the x default hreflang, the rest of the alternate markup already existed.
Overall, I really like Google’s use of the alternate markup. In some cases, we need multiple versions of a page. Sure we can block those versions through various methods, but it makes more sense to alert the search engine. Google has been using this practice in mobile for some time, it is nice to see that they are pushing it more in multi-lingual and multi-national area as well with this new default hreflang markup. You can find all the values for using this annotation here.
If you need support for a very complex project, make sure to contact Ignite Visibility. Happy optimizing!