From the looks of it, you’ve stumbled upon the mystery of the century: Hreflang. Well, maybe not quite, but its certainly a source of confusion and curiosity for many SEOs. Have you ever wondered what Hreflang is, why it’s important, and how it can impact your SEO success? Worry no more, as this blog post has come to unravel the mystery. We’ll dive into the topic of Hreflang: what it is, why it’s important, and how you can use it for SEO success. From the basics of Hreflang to its complexities, you’ll be sure to gain more knowledge from this post!

Quick Breakdown of Key Point

Hreflang is an HTML tag that helps webmasters control which versions of their websites should be shown in different languages and countries. The tag works by specifying language codes for each version of the website, and then using those codes to indicate to search engines which version should be shown to a particular user based on their location and language preferences.

The Basics of Hreflang

Hreflang is an attribute used to specify which language and geographic area a webpage targets. This HTML element is essential for any website with multiple translated versions or content targeted to regions around the globe. It helps websites improve their search engine optimisation (SEO) by specifying language-related parameters and preventing URLs from being shown in incorrect search engine results.

Adding the hreflang attribute is the best way to communicate to search engines which specific pages are aimed at different countries or languages. Depending on the website, anywhere from two to hundreds of hreflang tags may be implemented across all corresponding website pages. It’s important for SEO that webmasters link each version of the page together correctly when setting up the hreflang tags.

When it comes to hreflang’s place among other SEO techniques, there has been considerable debate. On one hand, it can be argued that properly implemented hreflang tags can greatly benefit a website’s performance in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Proper implementation can result in better visibility for localised sites; for example, products or services being recognised more quickly on local sites. Moreover, it prevents frequent crawling of unimplemented pages. On the other hand, some people think that because hreflang works indirectly—as in, impacting page rankings indirectly—it is not something webmasters should prioritise when it comes to their SEO efforts. Ultimately, it comes down to individual preference and website needs.

In understanding what makes up a hreflang attribute, it’s important to consider how websites are structured and managed in each country or language version. With this knowledge about what will be done on each version of the site, webmasters can take the next steps towards configuring the hreflang attribute correctly: Understanding the Hreflang Attribute.

  • Hreflang is a HTML language tag used to identify the language and region of a certain webpage.
  • By adding the Hreflang tag, webpages can be tailored to specific audiences and search engine crawlers can more easily index the content.
  • According to a survey by Clutch released in 2019, over 25% of businesses use Hreflang tags on their websites.

Understanding the Hreflang Attribute

The hreflang attribute is an important tool for SEO success as it helps Google index a website in multiple languages. The hreflang attribute is an HTML tag embedded on each page of a website that tells search engines which version of the page to serve to users based on their location and language. This attribute is most often used for multi-language websites, such as those targeting two or more countries, but can also be used by those targeting just one country that speaks multiple languages.

In order for the hreflang attribute to function correctly, it needs to follow certain rules and best practises. First, there needs to be a list of all language versions found on the page, and each page should reference this list. This ensures that all language versions are known and can be referenced correctly. Additionally, every language version should have its own URL pointing to the relevant content. Each language version should also link back to the other language versions using a rel=”alternate” tag.

The main argument surrounding hreflang attributes is whether they are necessary at all. While many agree that having a multi-lingual website is beneficial, some are in disagreement about whether it’s worth implementing hreflang tags if the website isn’t necessarily targeting multiple countries or multiple languages within one country. While there is no definitive answer yet as to whether or not tagging is necessary, many argue that getting into the habit of tagging pages with the hreflang attribute has potential benefits down the line when it comes to international SEO success.

Now that we understand what the hreflang attribute is and how it works, let’s look at how we can put it into practise. In the following section, we will cover how to implement the hreflang attribute so websites can reap its SEO benefits.

How Does the Hreflang Attribute Work?

The hreflang attribute is a way for webmasters to communicate to search engines which version of a page should be served in response to a query from users in each different language or region. This attribute tells search engine crawlers the languages and regions where each page is intended to be served, based on the user’s geographic location and preferred interface language. For example, if a website has two versions of the same webpage – one optimised for Spanish-speaking audiences and one for English-speaking audiences – using the hreflang attributes ensures that the right version of that page is served to each audience according to their geographic location.

Hreflang tags work by exchanging information between two websites, so that both sites know which language or region the other site is targeting. When a website adds an hreflang attribute to one of its pages, it scraps any other hreflang attributes from other sites, allowing for more effective communication between both websites. Thus, website A can quickly recognise which version of the page on website B is intended for its geographical/linguistic group and vice versa.

It is important to note that although the hreflang attribute is valuable when optimised correctly, if not implemented properly it can have negative effects on a website’s SEO visibility. In other words, it is possible for poor hreflang implementation to actually backfire. Improperly implemented hreflang attributes can lead to Google ignoring all claims and indexing only the original language and region versions of pages, resulting in worse visibility than before usage of hreflang.

Leading into the next section: Reasons why using Hreflang for SEO can prove beneficial will now be discussed in detail.

Why Use Hreflang for SEO?

Hreflang is an HTML element made to help website owners and publishers provide the right language or regional URL to viewers based on their location. Using Hreflang can be a great way to increase your search engine optimisation (SEO) success, as it allows you to tailor content for different audiences and make sure your site is ranking well in the local market. It can also be used to target international audiences who speak several different languages.

For SEO purposes, the use of Hreflang tags can be very beneficial in telling search engines which version of a webpage should be served in each country or region. Without them, webpages might show up in unexpected places, resulting in poor user experience and wasted time for international customers. Furthermore, when properly implemented, Hreflang tags help ensure that the correct language version of a page is being indexed by Google, thus increasing your chances of being found in search results. The implication here is that it helps websites achieve better rankings on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

However, there are a few drawbacks to using Hreflang tags. For one thing, they require significant knowledge and understanding of HTML coding and can be quite difficult to maintain. Additionally, if your website has multiple language versions but lacks regional pages (say all language versions include global rules), this could mean serving the same page across multiple countries/regions which could lead to bad user experience due to having locals users view irrelevant content. To avoid this problem you must consider creating tailored page copies across multiple countries and regions accordingly so each country/region would have its unique version.

Ultimately, although there may be some challenges related to using Hreflang tags for SEO success, doing so presents more advantages than disadvantages. Implementing Hreflang tags properly ensures that your website remains localised and relevant for all target audiences that visit your page. As such, using them should be considered essential for any business serious about establishing itself as an industry leader within its respective marketplaces – both International and Local.

By leveraging Hreflang, businesses can greatly increase their visibility on SERPs while simultaneously providing valuable localised experiences – improving user engagement rates and boosting customer satisfaction as a result. In the following section we’ll explore additional benefits of localising your website with Hreflang in greater detail.

The Benefits of Localising Your site

Localising your website is an effective and important part of leveraging SEO success. By localising, you ensure that your website’s content is accessible and properly indexed by search engines like Google in order to reach the target local audience. Localised websites often convert more international visitors into customers, as they recognise a content tailored specifically for their region and language – this can also lead to improved brand loyalty from customers in various markets.

At the same time, localising a website calls for extra attention on the part of site owners for cultural considerations when translating content. This can be quite a challenge if the business does not have an internal translation expert or a team of native speakers who can provide quality control for all localised content. Moreover, localising a website requires additional resources in terms of compression rate, hosting cost and software compatibility maintenance.

Overall, localization can be a great way to increase visibility, customer loyalty and global reach but comes with its own set of challenges. As long as businesses can commit to properly research the local markets they are targeting and make sure they have the resources necessary to implement quality translations, they stand to benefit greatly from localising their websites.

Now that we have discussed the benefits of localising your site, let us turn our attention to what Hreflang can do to help you implement these changes on your site. In the following section we will explore implementing Hreflang on your site to optimise both users’ experiences and SEO performance.


Localising a website can be an effective way to increase visibility, customer loyalty, and global reach. However, it requires extra attention to cultural considerations, resources in terms of compression rate, hosting cost and software compatibility maintenance, as well as research into the local market. Hreflang can help with implementing localization changes on a website to optimise users’ experiences and SEO performance.

Implementing Hreflang on Your Site

When it comes to implementing hreflang on your website, there are a few considerations that need to be taken into account. First and foremost, you must determine the intention for adding the hreflang tag. If you’re planning to target multiple countries with different languages, then implementing hreflang is highly recommended. Meanwhile, if the goal is solely to target users within a single country, then adding the tag might not be necessary.

When considering whether or not to use hreflang, there are pros and cons that must be weighed in order to make an informed decision:


– Hreflang signals search engines what version of a page should appear in search results based on the user’s location or language preferences; thus helping ensure that the right content is sent to the right user

– Using hreflang can help improve click through rate (CTR) as users are more likely to find content that they can comprehend; this increases relevancy and satisfaction


– It takes time to implement properly and requires ongoing maintenance; changes such as new pages or expansions into other markets will require updates to the tags

– Errors in implementation can confuse search engines and result in incorrect content delivery; this can hurt SEO performance if not quickly addressed

Ultimately, it is up to each website owner to decide whether implementing hreflang is worth their time and resources – after all, it is not always necessary for success. To better understand when it makes sense (or doesn’t) to deploy hreflang tags on your website, let’s look at some use cases in the following section.

When to Use or Not Use Hreflang

When it comes to deciding whether or not to use hreflang, there are a few things you need to take into consideration before making that decision.

For starters, you should use hreflang if your website serves content to multiple languages and locales. Whether you have a global presence or are targeting a specific region, hreflang will help guide users to the right version of your content, ensuring they have an optimised experience and can easily find what they’re looking for. This is especially important if you have different versions of your site available in multiple countries or languages. In addition, using hreflang will give you more control over how search engines crawl and index your webpages, allowing them to provide the best possible results for users.

However, there are also times when it doesn’t make sense to implement hreflang tags. If you don’t have any plans for international expansion and aren’t serving content to multiple languages or locales, then implementing hreflang may not be in your best interests. Additionally, it isn’t necessary on English-only sites that are targeting worldwide audiences as search engines already recognise English as the primary language for the majority of the world.

At the end of the day, understanding and implementing hreflang tags on your website can have huge benefits in terms of SEO success. However, before adding them to your site, you must carefully consider all potential implications as well as decide whether they are applicable in your particular situation.

Now that we have discussed when to use (or not use) hreflang tags, let’s move on to understanding internationalisation and localization.

Understanding Internationalisation and Localization

Internationalisation (i18n) versus Localization (L10n) is a debate often encountered in the world of SEO, Search Engine Optimisation. To put it simply, internationalisation is the process of making sure that websites are prepared to display content in any language, while localization is the process of actually modifying the content on your website to accommodate any number of different languages.

Both processes are essential for successful Hreflang implementation. Understanding when and where each should be used will help ensure a more successful outcome for your business.

Internationalisation: Designed for Multi-language Support

The goal of website internationalisation is to ensure that, no matter what language visitors prefer, all webpages load in that language as quickly as possible. This involves making changes to coding, so that all text on the page can be translated either automatically or manually that results in a bilingual website.

Internationalising your website allows you to make sure it’s optimised for translation no matter what country or language visitors come from. This puts less strain on any one language version, allowing them to serve visitors quickly without needing multiple versions of pages created ahead of time, or without having to send visitors through language selection pages.

Localization: Adapting Content for Local Audiences

Localising your website is the process of taking the same content written in one language and rephrasing it into another language specifically designed for a local audience. While internationalising prepares a site for translation, localising actually goes through and does the translation itself. This includes more than just changing words from English to Spanish—instead it focuses on ensuring cultural differences like idioms and slang are taken into account so the page not only reads correctly but sounds natural as well.

The Debate

There are pros and cons to both internationalisation and localization when it comes to Hreflang implementation. Advocates of internationalised websites argue that i18n allows multiple versions of a page with fewer resources which can improve performance and up-time rates. In addition, since pages are served automatically by detecting language preferences in users’ browsers, there’s no need for cookies or other such tracking methods which some people may find intrusive. Additionally, an internationalised site eliminates the need for localised versions altogether since content won’t need to be changed between languages — they can just translate “on demand” using an automated translator feature.

Proponents of localised websites suggest that this approach allows companies to better tailor their content offerings based on their target audiences’ various geographic locations and cultural contexts. Plus, reviewing context-appropriate variations before publishing can give assurance that everything is accurate and appropriate for each individual market—and reduce potential issues related to misunderstandings about local customs or expectations due to incorrect translations.

Overall, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between Internationalisation or Localization when implementing Hreflang tags — it really depends on company goals and resources available at hand. In most cases though using one or both strategies depending on the situation should result in a successful outcome.

Responses to Common Questions with Explanations

What is the purpose of Hreflang tags?

The purpose of Hreflang tags is to inform search engines what version of a webpage they should be showing to users in certain languages and regions. By indicating the language, location and region of a website, Hreflang tags help ensure that search engine results are accurate and relevant to each user’s language or locale. This allows for targeted, localised content to be shown to users all over the world, resulting in improved SEO performance and a better user experience overall. Additionally, Hreflang tags can prevent content from being indexed multiple times in duplicate versions, which could lead to a drop in rankings.

How can Hreflang tags improve SEO performance?

Hreflang tags can improve SEO performance by improving website visibility for different language versions of a website. These tags provide search engines with information about the languages and region-specific versions of a page that are available, allowing them to serve up the correct versions to users. Additionally, by ensuring that regional versions are properly indexed and linked, Hreflang tags help Google deliver more relevant results which can improve a website’s rankings in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Finally, having the right language version of a website automatically served up to relevant searches helps avoid instances of duplicate content which can negatively impact SEO performance.

How do I write an effective Hreflang tag?

An effective Hreflang tag is one that accurately specifies the language and location of a web page, while also avoiding errors. It should include:

• The language code – use ISO 639-1 codes for languages, and ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes for countries. For example: en-us for US English, and de-de for German in Germany.

• The location of the website – whether it is for the whole country (e.g., ‘en’) or a specific region or city (e.g., ‘not-de’).

• The URL of the page that specifies the language/location combination – You must include this URL in your current document or page so each version of your page will have its own Hreflang tag pointing to another version of the same page.

When writing an effective Hreflang tag, it is important to ensure there are no common errors. For instance, if more than one language is listed in one tag, or if incorrect tags are present when linking different pages with multiple versions of a language, this can cause serious indexing issues. When checking, ensure that only one language per hreflang tag is present and that there are no typo’s in the code being used.

By ensuring that these key elements are correctly implemented, you can benefit from improved SEO visibility through better crawling and indexation, leading to an increase in potential website visitors.

Last Updated on March 21, 2023

Matt Jackson

E-commerce SEO expert, with over 10 years of full-time experience analyzing and fixing online shopping websites. Hands-on experience with Shopify, WordPress, Opencart, Magento, and other CMS.
Need SEO help? Email me for more info, at