Originally published on February 20, 2018.
Expanding your business to the international market not only includes understanding foreign laws and regulations but also adapting your company’s website to different languages to achieve Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
But how can a company do that?
In 2011, Google created the Hreflang attribute, a tag that allows a company to serve its online content in different languages. If you’re looking to target a certain geographical group, the Hreflang also allows you to specify the country in order to transmit the localized version of the language. For example, your content in Spanish (hreflang=“es”) can further be specified to the dialect of a Spanish-speaking country, such as Spain (hreflang=“es-es”) or Mexico (hreflang=“es-mx”).
However, as simple as it may seem to implement, that is not the case. According to Business2Community, 75% of multilingual websites have Hreflang mistakes. Here are the most common mistakes broken down by SEMrush:
As pointed out above, the biggest mistake is having the wrong country code. For instance, the “UK” country code signifies Ukraine, not the United Kingdom. Moreover, while a country code can be excluded, a language code cannot. And when used with a country code, the language code must always be placed before the country.
Here is a visual of how the Hreflang code should look like:
Moreover, having the correct Hreflang ensures more than just targeting the right audience in mind. The tag also saves you from risking a duplicate content penalty, that when applied by Google, leads to your website being removed the search results. Therefore, if you have multiple copies of your company page in Spanish but that is intended for different countries, the Hreflang informs Google’s search engine that you are not duplicating content with the intent to “manipulate search engine rankings.”
In short, the Hreflang tag is an incredible tool that gives global companies the ability to address their worldwide consumers in their own specific languages.
Interested in implementing the Hreflang to your website? Here is a quick and simple introduction by Google, and here is a useful list of correct language and country codes compiled by international marketer Martin Kura.
Read more posts by Cindy Ramirez