For companies developing their SEO in multiple countries, the hreflang attribute is one of the essential elements to put in place for your Cabo Verde Email List international SEO strategy. Appearance of pages on your site in the wrong language or in the wrong country in search results is a fairly common problem among international websites. This problem may not be site-wide and sometimes does not occur only for some search queries. In the past, we had to create target country signals for each market in order to designate its location by distinct differences, such as the national top level domain (thanks to the .fr, .de, .jp extensions etc…) and the location servers, but that didn’t solve all geolocation issues.

So when Google announced hreflang in 2013, you can imagine the number of international SEO specialists who jumped for joy. However, even today, many still struggle to take advantage of the hreflang tag. This article is not intended to explain how to use hreflang or if you should use it in the header or in XML format of the Sitemap … but rather to recall its original purpose and talk about the hidden challenges that lie ahead. often present during its implementation. The hreflang tags are an SEO solution for managing websites whose pages are available in several languages. They tell search engines the relationship between international versions of a page, and can target both language and region in the same tag.

Cannibalization between your sites

As SEOs, we want to make sure that users see results for the most relevant pages. Therefore, French speaking users should see the French version of a result. Having multiple variations of very similar pages from one site to another with regional variations of the same language can lead to duplication of content, for example, in the case of having en-us pages ( English language with United States as target country) and en-gb pages (English language with United Kingdom as target country). Hreflang tags are a good method to resolve these issues and ensure that search engines understand the links between these pages rather than seeing them as duplicates.


Here is an example of hreflang attributes : The standard format of a hreflang tag includes a language followed by a location, eg “de-at” refers to German speakers in Austria. You can also have hreflang tags that target only the language without specifying a region, for example: “en” which targets English speakers all over the world.The main challenges encountered when implementing hreflang We have listed below the difficulties often encountered by those who tackle the integration of hreflang tags as part of an international SEO strategy . Not all sites have the same content The hreflang works by listing the URLs of pages that have the same or similar content on each site by language / country.

Nobody updates the hreflang

Matching or grouping the same content pages is not that difficult when all the sites have the same content in the same content structure, but often it is not. There are several reasons for this: This could be for commercial reasons, such as the fact that certain items or products are not available in certain countries. It may be more of external reasons. For example, the fact that some content is restricted by the regulations of certain countries. Why is this a challenge. No one really has control over the availability of content and the uniqueness of content from one site to another. Often the person responsible for the hreflang sitemap takes the main site they know to multiply the URLs by replacing the language-country directory in the URLs assuming there is a full match.

However, when you notice that pages are missing from a language / country site, you must decide whether you want to place other replacement pages or if you prefer to combine the main URL offering content for other countries. Verification tools that do not validate correctly Variations in the structure of URLs also cause some headaches. You hope everyone uses the same URL structures as the main site, but the reality is that many sites don’t think about international versions and use different URL structures. This happens frequently on the same domain name, so you can imagine how difficult it is to try to group pages from different domain names correctly. The differences in URL structures don’t just happen between sites, but as we just said, within the same site.

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