For businesses that extend out to global markets, producing content in the language desired by your audiences is no more optional. Creating multilingual content to target different audience sets can be an integral part of a successful SEO strategy. And this is where hreflang tags come into the picture.
In this blog, we will understand what are hreflang tags and why they are important to strengthen your global SEO.
What are Hreflang Tags?
Hreflang is an HTML-based attribute that Google uses to crawl a page based on its geographical and language targeting. This enables the search engine to show the appropriate version of the content in multiple languages.
For instance, if you have two versions of a webpage – both in English and French, then you can use hreflang to allow Google to display a page based on the user’s preferred language and geographic location. Hence, if a user searches in French, the hreflang attribute will ensure the search result and the content is delivered only in French rather than English.
Hreflang is critical for websites that span internationally and therefore, plays an important role in helping improve organic SEO.
Why is Hreflang Tag Important For Global SEO?
While hreflang tags are not a search engine ranking factor, they can influence how Google crawls and indexes content. Hence, it should be an integral component of your international SEO strategy.
1. Deliver a Great User Experience
If one thing that Google prioritizes over anything else is the “user experience” on your page. Suppose, a French-speaking user searches for information, products or services related to your business on Google. Even if you do not use a hreflang attribute, the search engine may serve up your website to the French searcher anyway if you target that geographical location.
However, if the content on the page is in English and not in French, it can render a poor user experience. Hence, the user is likely to bounce right away. This can significantly affect your search engine rankings because “page experience” is a vital factor influencing the SEO rankings of a website.
2. Establish the Relevance of Your Webpage
“Page relevance” is another important factor helping improve SEO for websites. Hreflang tags are a signal for Google that enables it to understand which version of the web page is most relevant for a specific search query. It also influences how Google indexes and ranks the page in search results.
Using a hreflang tag, you can:
- Indicate to Google that a page has different versions targeting multiple geographic regions and languages
- Provide the link to the page
- Specify the region and language of the particular page version that Google is crawling
Google then uses this information to determine if that version of the page is relevant to the geographical setting and language preference of the searcher.
Suppose, you use a hreflang attribute to indicate that a particular version of your webpage targets visitors coming from France. This helps Google to understand that the page is relevant for French visitors. Hence, the search engine may rank the page higher for related search queries from France - resulting in greater visibility and more clicks.
Page relevance is an important SEO ranking factor and hreflang tags help just in that.
3. Avoid Penalties from Duplicate Content
The problem of duplicate content typically arises for international websites that target geographic regions speaking the same language, for example, English for British, American, and Canadian audiences. In such cases, the web pages may have only minor changes in the content – resulting in a website that has multiple pages with similar content. This may violate Google’s policy regarding duplicate content and your website ranking suffers.
In such cases, Google tends to index only one of these page versions, affecting the visibility and conversions of other pages. Alternatively, Google may consider using duplicate content as a way to manipulate search engine rankings. Hence, it may index none of the pages.
Using hreflang attributes can help avoid duplicate content issues and better rank your pages.
Hreflang tags are a powerful tool in global SEO that helps international websites to reach the intended audience by serving your content in multiple language versions. It is also an important factor influencing your user experience and relevance, which are crucial factors determining your search engine rankings.
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