SEO Cape Town Hreflang Tag Guide

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SEO Cape Town Hreflang Tag Guide

SEO Nerd International SEO

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SEO Cape Town Hreflang Tag Guide


In this SEO Cape Town Hreflang Tag Guide, we will teach you how to apply hreflang tags correctly in just 10 minutes of reading time.


SEO Cape Town Hreflang Table of Contents


What is hreflang?
Understanding the importance of hreflang for search engine optimisation (SEO)
The main reason why you need hreflang attributes
Should you use hreflang tags?
Implementing hreflang successfully
The process that needs to be followed
How are hreflang tags implemented?
How hreflang tags impact SEO rankings
Making sure that the hreflang tags keep working
Issues with hreflang that Google may ignore
Common hreflang tag mistakes that people make
Make the most of hreflang tag tools


It is important that you understand the hreflang attribute and that you know how to use it properly if your website has content in a number of different languages and you intend targetting various geographic locations. To make matters worse, hreflang has been described as one of the most complicated aspects of SEO by Google’s John Mueller but don’t worry, just read our SEO company related Hreflang Tag Guide for insight.



What is hreflang?


This is an HTML attribute that is used so that the geographical and language targeting of a web page is specified. If you have a number of different versions of the same page in various languages, the hreflang tag can be used so that Google and other major websites know about these variations, Google offers multilingual support for localised versions of your site. This helps to make sure that the search engine’s users get the right version. For example, the English version of the website will be shown in the UK and the Spanish version of the website is shown in Spain, if your SEO services have implemented it correctly.


The three most common ways that hreflang tags are used are as follows:


Content in different languages, for example, fr, de, and en.
Content with regional variations, for example, en-gb and en-us.
A combination of various languages and regional variations.


Understanding the importance of hreflang for search engine optimisation (SEO)


Now that you know what hreflang is, the next part of this SEO Cape Town Hreflang Tag Guide is to take a look at why this matters from an SEO perspective. More and more business owners today have taken the time to translate their website. This is because business is increasingly being conducted on a worldwide basis, and e-stores especially want to reach a bigger audience.


If you have gone to all of the effort to translate your website, it is important that the search engine uses the correct one. After all, it would be pretty disappointing if after all of that effort Google continues to show your English website in the Spanish search results.


seo cape town hreflang tag global usage


If you cater to the native tongue of Google users, this is going to enhance their experience. This will often cause your bounce rate to reduce and the time on your page to increase too, as it will be easier for them to read of course. These are all good indicators that Google looks out for.


Hreflang tags can also have a direct impact on your ranking because pages within a hreflang cluster share one and other’s ranking signals. This reason alone is why you need to make sure hreflang is implemented wherever it is appropriate.


The main reason why you need hreflang attributes


Despite everything that has been mentioned above, the other reason why you need to read this SEO Cape Town Hreflang Tag guide is because of duplicate content. If you have two versions of one page, for example, one that is in American English to target the United States and another that is in British english to target the UK audience.


These pages are going to be pretty much identical, right? The only difference will be the odd spelling here and there. Because of this, Google may view the pages as being duplicate content, choosing one version to index.


Hreflang tags make sure that Google is able to understand the relationship that these pages share. Google will know that you are targeting two different audiences. They will attempt to show the right version in the search result pages, but there is no guarantee that this is going to be the case.


This is because hreflang tags are not directive. The tags are a signal. It is still ideal to make sure that you localize the content on the pages that utilize the same language in an hreflang cluster. There are a number of ways that this can be achieved, for example, by localizing pricing, i.e. GBP vs. USD.


Should you use hreflang tags?


There are two scenarios whereby it is recommended that hreflang tags are used. The first is if you have the same content in a number of languages. The second is if you have content that is aimed at various geographic regions yet they are in the same language.


Implementing hreflang successfully according to our SEO Cape Town Guide


Next in this SEO Cape Town Hreflang Tag Guide, we’re going to look at implementation. Hreflang tags are reasonably straightforward to implement. There are some golden rules that must be followed, though. The first is that hreflang tags are bidirectional. It is vital to understand that hreflang tags operate in pairs. For example, if you have an hreflang tag on a Spanish page that points to the English version of the page, then you need to return the favor and make sure that there is a tag on the English version that points to the Spanish page as well.


seo cape town hreflang tag search image


Another good practice includes self-referential hreflang attributes. Google has stated that every language version needs to list itself and all of the other language versions. This basically means that all pages need to have a self-referential hreflang tag, which is a tag that points back to itself.


Aside from this, X-default tags come highly recommended when it comes to SEO Cape Town and worldwide. However, they are not compulsory. This tag specifies the fallback or default page that is visible to users when there are no other language variants that are suitable. It is not a necessity that you use them, but it is recommended by Google that you do.


The process that needs to be followed


There is an implementation process, which never really ends when you consider the fact that most businesses are growing their online presence all of the time. These are the six steps that you need to follow when it comes to implementing hreflang properly. These are the following:


Evaluate the countries and languages for hreflang implementation scope.
Select the right hreflang implementation method. We will discuss the different options that are available below.
Specify the hreflang code pattern by following the specification that Google has uploaded.
Validate the implementation of the hreflang tag in a test environment prior to the launch.
Troubleshoot and monitor hreflang implementation after the launch.
Establish the best practices for hreflang tags in guidelines, which you should follow whenever you publish a new page.


How are hreflang tags implemented as part of SEO Cape Town?


There are a number of different ways that hreflang tags are implemented. There are three options here: sitemaps, HTTP headers, and HTML tags.


seo cape town hreflang tag canonical


seo cape town hreflang tags south africa


If this is the first time that you are really delving into hreflang tags, then we would recommend starting with standard HTML tags. This is probably the fastest and easiest way that you can go about implementing hreflang tags. All that you need to do is add any correct hreflang tags in your web page’s html.


Another option is to implement hreflang HTTP headers. This is important because it is not always possible to go down the HTML route. After all, for the likes of PDFs, there is no HTML. This is when HTTP headers are a good idea. You can use these headers in order to choose the right language for document variments. This approach also works effectively with standard web pages, however, it is much more commonly used with other types of content.


The final option is to implement hreflang in your XML sitemap. Sitemaps can incorporate relevant markup so that the hreflang of the page is specified and the variants of it.


How hreflang tags impact SEO Cape Town rankings


Hreflang attributes may not cause your traffic levels to increase as other SEO practices do. Nevertheless, the aim of using these tags is to make certain that the right content is served to the right users. They help to make sure that Google and other search engines change the correct version of the page into the SERP based on the location of the user and the language preferences.


Making sure that the hreflang tags keep working


Once a working hreflang setup has been created, maintenance is required. This is a vital part of this SEO Cape Town guide. It is also a good idea to make sure that you frequently audit the implementation to ensure it is still set up properly and working the way that it should be.


You need to make certain that the individuals working for you that deal with content on your website know about hreflang so that they will not do things that result in the implementation being broken.


Two things are extremely important here. The first is that whenever a page is removed, there needs to be a check to make sure that the counterparts have been updated. The second is that whenever a page is redirected, the hreflang URLs on the counterparts need to be changed. If both of these steps are taken, and you audit like this on a frequent basis, you should not bump into any problems along the way.


Issues with hreflang that Google may ignore


While it is always important to make certain that best practices are followed, there are occasions whereby search engines like Google may overlook specific problems. Typically, this occurs when a search engine sees the same problem continually and believes that it can account for it on their end.


There are a couple of confirmed problems with the hreflang tag that Google “resolves” for you, and so you need to be aware of this, as it could work against you. For example, en-UK rather than en-GB. Another example is the underscore being used instead of a dash.


Common hreflang tag mistakes that people make in their SEO Cape Town plan


There are a number of mistakes that a lot of people make when it comes to hreflang tags. This includes the following:


When you are putting together content in a different language, make sure that it is actually in that language. Just adding a tag is not going to be enough for the search engine to comprehend that the page is meant to be in Norwegian, Italian, or Spanish. Make sure that you update all of the footers, headers, heading tags, title tags, and so on so forth. All bases need to be covered so that you do not end up with confusing mixed language content on the page.


Duplicate content problems can arise if you do not implement hreflang tags correctly. This is a common problem when it comes to search engine optimisation. At the same time, the issue is not completely eradicated with proper hreflang tag implementation, although it is helped. It is still critical that a robust international strategy is built and that you get the right backlinks for global pages.


Finally, make sure that the hreflang tag points to a 200 status code page. It should never point to a broken URL or a redirect. This is a waste of your crawl budget, resulting in the page being crawled incorrectly.


Make the most of hreflang tag tools as part of your SEO Cape Town strategy


There are a number of different hreflang tag tools that are available to assist you on your global marketing journey. If you do a quick search online, you will see that you have a number of different options to choose from here. Take the time to research all of these carefully so that you can find the perfect tool to help you with your campaign. You can easily read reviews that have been left by others to help you along the way.


To conclude this SEO Cape Town Hreflang Tag Guide, hreflang tags are extremely important when it comes to search engine optimization. This is important when you have the same pages but they serve different purposes, whether this is a different language entirely or whether it is a variation of the same language for different audiences. However, as Google’s John Mueller’s has stated, this is one of the most difficult aspects of SEO, so you do need to make sure you tread carefully when implementing it in your online strategy.