If you’re aiming to global with your business, the day will come when you’ll have to start thinking about your geotargeting strategy and a new domain structure. That process involves not only great deal of strategic thinking, but also a lot of technicalities to take care of. And while choosing the best domain strategy and diving deep into the waters of technical SEO, you’ll inevitably encounter hreflang.

Wait, href-what?

Hreflang (also known as link rel alternate) is a html tag attribute introduced by Google in 2011. Simply speaking, it explains Google what the relationship is between your pages in different languages on your website, so that an appropriate version of your website is offered to a user searching in a particular language in the search results. It basically says “if a person looks for results in a specific language (e.g. Russian), this page is more likely to offer what they look for than a page with similar content in a different language (German).

In practice, the hreflang looks something like this:

 

 <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com” hreflang=”en-us” />

 

Such a tag tells Google that “this is the page for English speaking visitors from the US”. If you wanted to target with one page both English and Spanish speaking visitors from the US, the hreflang would look something like this:

 

<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com” hreflang=”en-us” />

 <link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com” hreflang=”es-us” />

 

A specific role belongs to the x-default hreflang tag. The x-default says “hey, Google, unless there is a specific version of my site defined in my hreflang, please show this one to the visitor”. In other words, it defines the page that should see all the people that have no specific version defined for them. The final version of your hreflang could perhaps look like this:

 

<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/es” hreflang=”es” />

<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/de” hreflang=”de” />

<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/” hreflang=”x-default” />

 

It’s a tag, not a ring of power

So I just set my hreflangs right and I’m all ‘geotargeted’, right? Thinking that would be a huge mistake, yet we can see many people relying on the power of hreflang and neglecting working on their local signals. One thing needs to be set up straight: hreflang is a directive, not a signal. What does that mean?

It means that hreflang itself isn’t evaluated by Google as one of the local signals. And by that logic, it can eventually be outweighed by lack of local signals. So never stop working on a good backlinking portfolio, high-quality localized content and usage of the right multilingual keywords. Or, in case that sounds a bit overwhelming, give us a tuck and we’ll get it done.

February Roundup

February Roundup

Some top-notch International SEO research was done in February. We kicked off the month by discovering new Valentine’s gift ideas and unraveled the secret of Hreflang. What are your predictions for the top 15 ecommerce markets in 2017 – will China prevail over US in sales? Check out the most exciting and informative blog posts of February:

Lovespoons and Mass Weddings; Valentine’s Day Traditions and Gift Ideas From Around the World

We dug deep into search engine analytics and cultural facts surrounding Valentine’s Day traditions. By researching customs from Italy, Finland, Wales and the Philippines we discovered new gift and retail campaign […] Read more

Can Hreflang Solve All Your Geo-Targeting Issues?

Can Hreflang Solve All Your Geo-Targeting Issues?

First things first. What the heck is Hreflang tag, otherwise known as the “link rel alternate” tag, anyway? The short answer is: it tells search engines the relation between different language/country versions, so the they can serve result to users searching in that language/country. If you want to dig more into the topic, Moz did quite a comprehensive post about it. However, we are here today not to give you a lecture on Hreflang 101 but to bust one popular myth: “Is it true that Hreflang ultimately solves all geo-targeting issues?” *Spoiler alert* It does not!

[…] Read more

Skoda Car and its International SEO

Skoda Car and its International SEO

When it comes to selling and advertising cars, it is very important to make sure that search engine results are referring to the right domain. This is because not every car model is available to every country. A good example may be Škoda´s Rapid Spaceback Scoutline, introduced in 2015, which was not available for the UK. Hence if a customer is searching from google.de and the organic result shows an austrian Škoda website, it may create an impression that such a car is not yet available in Germany. This is what happened to some of Škoda´s car models.

 

Some of Škoda’s […] Read more

How Can Volkswagen Improve Their International SEO?

How Can Volkswagen Improve Their International SEO?

Running an international company is difficult in every aspect. Foreign market provides not only new opportunities, but also poses new threats. This applies to every business. Today we will analyze Volkswagen´s problems in their international SEO strategy and show how geotargeting can be more precise.

Problem #1 Page language doesn’t match the query

Let’s go to google.co.uk and search for the keyword: vw multivan. It refers to the model of the car and do not have any location attachment.  What do we get? German page (.de domain) appears 2nd in the search results. Moreover, no UK version is available when we are […] Read more