The HTML hreflang specifies a web page’s language and geographical targeting. The hreflang tag informs search engines about multiple versions of the same page. The tag can be used when you have more than one version of the same page. Through this process, they can provide their users with the correct version.
Why does hreflang matter for SEO?
The most recommended version of your content is the one the search engines will display to users if you have decided to translate it into multiple languages. It is important to note that both Google and Yandex use hreflang tags to assist in this process.
Bing has reported that hreflang doesn’t provide them with enough information as they mostly rely on the content-language HTML attribute, links, and who is visiting your site as a way to determine the language of your content. However, as far as their official documentation is concerned, they still recommend you use it.
A search engine user’s experience will also be improved if the search engine caters to the native language of the user. We believe that a higher dwell time on your page and a lower bounce rate will result in fewer people clicking away from your page and returning to the search results (i.e., a higher dwell time), a lower bounce rate, a higher time on page, etc.-all those good things that we believe improve SEO and rankings in the long run.
There is also the potential for hreflang tags to directly affect rankings, as Gary Illyes notes in this video, since hreflang tags can be clustered, where pages within the cluster share ranking signals. In the SERPs, users will see the most relevant page, not the page with the best-ranking position.
What does hreflang achieve?
Every URL in a complete implementation of hreflang specifies which variations are available along with that particular URL. Google goes through the following steps when a user searches for something on the internet:
- First, a URL is ranked if it is determined that it should be organized.
- Then, hreflang annotations are checked for that URL.
- Finally, a user who searches will be presented with the most relevant URLs based on their search term.
Should you use hreflang?
After learning what hreflang is, how it works, and why we might want to use it, we can decide on whether it’s worth it for you. When to use hreflang:
- There are multiple languages available for the same content.
- Therefore, creating content in a language that reaches different geographical regions, in the same way, is necessary.
- In terms of your content, it does not matter whether it is housed on a single domain or multiple domains. You can do so if you want to link variations within the same domain and between domains.
Making sure hreflang keeps working
It is essential to set up maintenance processes once you have created a working hreflang setup. Regularly auditing your implementation is also a good idea to ensure everything works correctly.
Your company’s content managers should be aware of hreflang in order not to cause problems to your site. It is essential to keep a few things in mind:
- First, verify that its counterparts have been updated when a page is deleted.
- Change the hreflang URLs on counterparts of redirected pages.
- Auditing regularly and doing that should prevent any problems.
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