Optimize Hreflang for International Reach – Webinar Q&A Round Up

Globe surrounded by people and jigsaw puzzle pieces with a magnifying glass.

Recently, I presented a webinar that discussed the technical SEO topic of hreflang. 

Didn’t manage to make the live event? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

The webinar recording will soon be available in the on-demand section of our site, so you can catch up. 

We received a variety of great questions during the session, so it felt only right to share them. 

Below you will find a list of all the questions asked and the answers, as well as a couple of links to some helpful additional resources. 

Q. What are the most common mistakes when using hreflang? 

A. Some of the most common mistakes include: 

  • Incorrect language or region codes
  • Missing reciprocal tags
  • Incorrect URLs in the hreflang tags
  • Using the wrong format for the hreflang attribute
  • Not specifying a default version with x-default

Q. What are the different hreflang values?

A. Hreflang values consist of a language code and, optionally, a regional code. For example:

  • en for English 
  • en-GB for British English 
  • en-US for American English 
  • fr for French 
  • fr-CA for Canadian French 

full list here: https://martinkura.com/list-hreflang-country-language-codes-attributes/

Q. How does hreflang affect SEO?

A. Hreflang helps search engines deliver the correct language version of a page to users, reducing bounce rates and increasing engagement. Proper implementation can improve the user experience and ensure the right content reaches the intended audience, which can positively impact SEO performance.

Q. What should you do if a page has multiple language versions but no regional targeting? 

A. If a page has multiple language versions without specific regional targeting, you can use language codes without regional modifiers. For example: 

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://example.com/en/” hreflang=”en”/> 

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

Q. Can hreflang be used with mobile and desktop versions of a site?

A. Yes, hreflang can be used with mobile and desktop versions if they are separate URLs. Each version must have hreflang tags pointing to the corresponding language and regional versions for both mobile and desktop sites. 

 Q. How does Google handle conflicting hreflang tags? 

A. If Google finds conflicting hreflang tags, it may choose to ignore them and use other signals to determine the correct version of the page to display. It’s essential to ensure hreflang tags are consistent and accurate across all pages to avoid conflicts. 

Q. Can hreflang be used on non-HTML files like PDFs?

A. No, hreflang cannot be directly applied to non-HTML files like PDFs. Hreflang tags are meant for HTML documents and should be placed within the HTML head section, in HTTP headers, or in sitemaps. 

Q. How does hreflang work with canonical tags? 

A. Hreflang and canonical tags can be used together to manage duplicate content. The canonical tag indicates the preferred version of a page, while hreflang specifies language and regional alternatives. Make sure that each hreflang link points to its own self-referential canonical tag to avoid conflicts. 

Q. Do hreflang tags need to be present on every page of a multilingual site? 

A. Yes, hreflang tags should be present on every page of a multilingual site that has alternative languages or regional versions. This ensures that search engines can correctly index and display the appropriate versions for different users. 

Q. Can hreflang be used for subdomains and subdirectories? 

A. Yes, hreflang can be used for both subdomains and subdirectories. The tags should point to the appropriate language or regional versions within the subdomains or subdirectories. For example: 

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://en.example.com/” hreflang=”en”/> 

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://example.com/en/” hreflang=”en”/> 

Q. How do you handle hreflang for pages with dynamic content? 

A. For pages with dynamic content, hreflang tags should be dynamically generated to reflect the correct language and regional versions. This can be achieved through server-side scripting to ensure each page outputs the appropriate hreflang tags based on the content. 

Q. How does hreflang work with mobile-first indexing? 

A. With mobile-first indexing, hreflang tags should be implemented on both the desktop and mobile versions of a site. Ensure that the hreflang annotations on the mobile version are accurate and correspond to those on the desktop version to maintain consistency.

Q. What role does hreflang play in site migration? 

A. During site migration, it is crucial to update hreflang tags to reflect the new URLs. Properly updating hreflang tags ensures that users and search engines are directed to the correct language and regional versions post-migration, preserving SEO benefits.

Q. What is the impact of hreflang on site speed?

A. Hreflang tags themselves have minimal impact on site speed. However, if implemented incorrectly or excessively, they could potentially cause slight delays in page load times. It’s essential to ensure efficient implementation, especially for large sites with numerous language versions.

Q. What are the best practices for hreflang implementation in JavaScript frameworks? 

A. In JavaScript frameworks, ensure hreflang tags are rendered on the server side to be accessible to search engines. Use server-side rendering (SSR) or pre-rendering techniques to output the correct hreflang tags, as search engines may not always execute JavaScript properly. 

Q. Can hreflang be used for different currencies? 

A. While hreflang itself does not specify currencies; it can be used to direct users to regional versions of pages where currency differences are reflected. For example, en-US might show prices in USD, while en-GB shows prices in GBP.


Piers Butler

Piers is the Head of Performance Marketing at Skittle Digital. He has worked in digital marketing for over 15 years, specialising in SEO, search data, and digital strategy. During his career, he has worked with prominent agencies and managed high-profile brands, helping them to grow their presence and ROI by seamlessly transforming their digital strategies. One of his previous successes includes growing revenue by over 300% through strategic restructures, client retention, and operational excellence.

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