How to detect conflicts of hreflang attributes in the page code and resolve them
This applies not only to the English version of a website. For example, in Ukraine, where two languages (Russian and Ukrainian) are widespread, the appropriate language options are a necessary attribute of a quality website.
Advantages of setting up a multilingual website
Hreflang attributes and SEO
Hreflang tells a search engine that the page with the translated content is an alternative to the original one and not its duplicate. As you know, duplicated content negatively affects the website ranking. Hreflang tags and attributes will help to solve this issue for websites with different regions or different language versions in the same region.
Convenience for users
The use of several language versions and unique content in each of them positively affect the website indexing.
The hreflang attribute helps to avoid penalties for duplicated content, especially in cases where alternative pages contain text in the source language, for example, only in English, instead of the translated one. As for ranking, the main language version of the website is normally ranked higher in search results.
As a result, the website gets more targeted traffic from different regions. Thus, the main goal of multilingualism is to increase the number of conversions and revenue.
What if there are no hreflang attributes on a website
Specify the hreflang attributes to show the analogs of the pages of a web resource to a search engine. There are three different ways to configure language versions:
- in website folders (site.com/en and site.com/ru);
- on subdomains (en.site.com and ru.site.com);
- on various domains (ensite.com and rusite.com).
There are also options of mixed implementation of multilingualism, for example, when language versions are placed in subfolders on different domains. In this article, we will not consider all the possible options and behavior of search engines in each case. We will focus on attribute conflicts and ways to avoid them.
How to use the hreflang attribute
It is not required to specify a region within hreflang. If you remove "us", this will mean that the page is designed for all English-speaking users in the USA, the UK, Australia, etc.
- links to existing language options of the page;
- the protocol http/https in the URL text.
Also, for the best implementation of multilingualism, you can specify a link that leads to itself in the page code. It is important that alternative language versions link back to the page.
For example, if hreflang is on site.com/en from site.com/ru, and hreflang on the Russian version of ru is not on site.com/en, then such hreflang is not taken into account by Google. The error "Hreflang — Missing return links" appears in Search Console.
In general, the hreflang attribute provides three main options for implementation.
What is the Hreflang="x-default" value
How to validate the hreflang attributes
The previous version of Google Search Console included the "International Targeting" section for managing hreflang tags and specifying target regions. This function has not yet been transferred to the new interface.
Conflicts of the hreflang attributes
No self-referential hreflang
Solution: include the link to the source page in the HTML document using the <link> element, or add it to the <xhtml:link> element of the sitemap. However, Google representatives noted that the hreflang self-referential link is "good practice", but this is optional and not mandatory.
Conflicting hreflang URLs
Solution: validate the URL correctness and make sure the HTTP/HTTPS protocol is specified in the address.
Conflicting hreflang and rel=canonical
Alternative pages can be recognized as duplicated content, and the task of rel="canonical" is to indicate the priority language version and its analogs. The combination of hreflang and rel="canonical" attributes shows different options for a particular web page marking it as a priority for a search robot.
This error is not related directly to the hreflang setting, however, you should keep in mind that incorrect use of canonical links can mislead the search engine and cause indexing issues.
Solution: replace canonical links so that each leads to a language alternative to the respective web page.
Pointing to alternative pages to search engines affects the website ranking in the search results. Tracking hreflang conflicts in the resource page code and resolving them successfully will allow you to get the maximum effect from this attribute.
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