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The value of the attributes alternate and hreflang in the optimization of multilingual sites

Web resource owners containing content or commercial offers that may be of interest to Internet users who speak languages other than the main one or who live in other countries are able to help additional language versions of the site

One of the important points in optimizing multilingual web resources is the use of alternate and hreflang, the link tag attributes, with which you can inform search bots about the availability of alternative language versions of the page they index, which will allow them to select the most suitable of them for display to the user, taking into account the language settings of his browser and geographical location.

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When the attributes alternate and hreflang come in handy

  1. When there are fully translated versions of web pages into other languages.
     
  2. If the translation touched only the page template, and its main content remained unchanged. For example, this happens in forums where it is assumed that the main content (content) is created directly by visitors.
     
  3. If versions of the page are created in the same language with partially different contents. For example, a French web page originally intended for Internet users from France may have a version in the same language, but for Canadians, a little modified taking into account the characteristics of the region of their location.

Features of using the attributes alternate and hreflang

a) The link element, which contains alternate and hreflang, must be placed within the html code section < head > < / head >.

b) rel = ’’alternate ’’ for multilingual sites not used separately from the attribute hreflang. They can be used in html link tag only together, otherwise the search engine will not understand the instructions.

c) The hreflang attribute may have the values of:

- ”xx”, where xx is the language code;
- ”xx-yy”, where xx is the language code, and yy is the country code (region).

It is not recommended to specify only region code (either only language code, or both codes together).

Рекомендация Google о атрибутах hreflang и alternate

d) If there are no hreflang attributes on the site, the search engine will not be able to correctly display its language versions in its extracts, which may lead to user visits, who will not be able to familiarize themselves with the contents of their pages due to language mismatch. 

e) Attributes hreflang and rel = ”alternate” for multilingual sites cannot be given to the entire language version. They are must be written in the code of each individual web page with an alternative version

f) If the web page has a different format than html, its alternative language version can be indicated using the http header. For example, an indication of the existence of a version of a page in German will have this form:

Использование атрибутов hreflang и alternate. Пример 1

g) If, in the case of using the http header, you need to specify more than one alternative version using the alternate and hreflang attributes, they are listed by comma.

Использование атрибутов hreflang и alternate. Пример 2

h) If there is more than one language version of the page, in the code of each of them it is necessary to prescribe all existing options, including the original one. So, for example, for the main Russian-language page, listing alternative versions in Ukrainian, French and again French will look like, but already separately for residents of Canada:

Использование атрибутов hreflang и alternate. Пример 3

i) rel = ’’alternate’ ’for a multilingual site, used with the hreflang attribute with the value of "x-default" on its main page if it has a country selection menu (language), as well as in the case of using automatic redirection to a specific language version.

Использование атрибутов hreflang и alternate. Пример 4

Why do you need it

The use of the alternate attribute and its permanent “satellite” hreflang is an integral element in optimizing multilingual web resources for correct perception by search engines and their adequate determination of the correctness of the display of a particular language version to a specific user. 

Fulfillment of this condition will provide your web resource with positive statistics of the main behavioral indicators taken into account by search engines, which will undoubtedly have a beneficial effect on the overall results of its promotion.