As the world becomes a more global marketplace, many brands, both large and small, are noticing that they need to take language preferences and geographical location into account when designing a website.
After all, pleasing your customers in other countries is just as important as in your home country.
Making sure that readers have a web page load in the language they prefer is key to ensuring a smooth customer experience.
It also helps improve your technical SEO by letting search algorithms know that your website is adaptable and made to help improve the search journey of your audiences, no matter where they are located.
Hreflang tags are an SEO attribute that can help you manage language and geographical preferences on the backend of your website.
- But what exactly are hreflang tags?
- Why are they important for SEO, and how can you keep track of them?
In this article, we’ll answer those questions and look over different hreflang checker tools to improve your SEO strategy and delight your audiences around the globe.
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What are Hreflang Tags?
Hreflang tags set out to solve a simple problem that faces many multinational businesses and global corporations.
How do you get your website into the preferred language of users in different geographical regions?
For example, if you have customers in the United States and Spain, you’ll have your website in two languages: English and Spanish.
But in order for a customer in Spain to get the Spanish website, users would have to search for language preferences, click to another link, or try to find header and footer language options.
Hreflang works to simplify this process.
Hreflang is an HTML code that allows search engines like Google to understand and process the language and the geographical target of a webpage.
This allows your website server to automatically load the website in the correct language based on the user’s language preferences and your geographical targets.
Hreflang can also help differentiate between regional dialects and differences in the same language, like UK English and US English or Mexico Spanish and Spain Spanish.
The end goal is to ensure that users have the right language preference without needing to search for it themselves.
Why is Hreflang Important for SEO?
Hreflang is a key part of an international SEO strategy.
In order to optimize and improve your search engine results page rankings in multiple countries, you need to have a strong grasp of global SEO tactics, including hreflang.
Improve Customer Experiences
Search engines aren’t just interested in the technical code of your website.
They want to see how your content can improve the journey of customers and provide them with valuable information.
By having the right language and location information on your site, you improve the overall user experience.
When people enjoy your site and have the right language settings immediately upon visiting, they are less likely to bounce from your site. This also helps to improve your SEO rankings.
Avoid Duplicate Content
Another SEO benefit of hreflang is avoiding duplicate content.
Duplicate content is repeated chunks of content throughout your site that completely match other content blocks.
Duplicating content negatively affects your SEO score, so avoiding it and creating fresh, new content is important.
Hreflang tags help Google understand that the content that is appearing as duplicate, like pages in both US English and UK English, is actually targeted at other audiences in different geographical locations.
Then the search algorithm won’t rank your site lower for having duplicate content.
Hreflang Mistakes You Need to Avoid
Just like with other areas of SEO, there are common mistakes that are made with hreflang tags that you need to avoid in your code.
If you don’t correct these errors, you risk losing brand visibility and SERP rankings:
No return hreflang tags
All your hreflang tags need to have return tags for alternative pages, and all your hreflang tags should cross-reference each other.
Adding hreflang tags to your blocked and non-indexable pages can confuse the search algorithms and lead to issues with crawlers.
No self-referencing tags
Another source-code error is having no self-referencing tags, which can lead to indexing issues. Original pages should link to themselves and include the language and country codes.
Incorrect canonical implementation
Canonical and hreflang tags need to be combined correctly, or your risk search engines not connecting your canonical tags with the correct hreflang tag.
Invalid hreflang URLs
Updating your hreflang tags frequently helps you avoid any broken links or tag redirect errors that can lead to your pages not being crawled by search engines.
Wrong country and language codes
The language and country codes that are used in hreflangs are globally recognized. The wrong codes will damage your rankings and confuse web visitors.
Punctuation and typo errors
The hreflang and other parts of your HTML code need to be punctuated and spelled correctly, or your hreflang HTML won’t work.
Missing x-default tags
X-defaults tell the search engine that a page doesn’t target specific regions. Without these, searchers will have a hard time locating your pages.
Top Hreflang Checker Tools
So how do you keep on top of all the rules for hreflang tags and the mistakes that you need to avoid in order to have SEO success in multiple countries and regions of your business?
How can you simplify the process while still keeping on top of your global SEO strategy?
Hreflang checker tools can help provide your business with the help it needs to manage and optimize hreflang tags.
Most of these generators or analyzers will have you submit your code to be scanned by the engine and give you feedback or notice any areas of error that need to be addressed, or will help you generate the necessary code after you input details.
Here are the top hreflang checker tools that you can try using for your business today:
This hreflang checker tool helps you quickly check your hreflang tags for accuracy on HTML, HTTP headers, and XML sitemaps.
This hreflang checker tool from Weglot helps users implement their hreflang tags correctly without worrying that something has gone wrong or that there is no way to fix a mistake.
After all, hreflang is one of the more complex areas of SEO.
The tool lets you check your URLs with different search engines and in your different set languages and gives you a simple checkmark interface that allows you to quickly see which areas are set up correctly and which need more work.
The CMLabs hreflang checker tool lets you quickly check your URLs and shows you the results of your implemented hreflang tags.
It also has a progress bar that lets you see how close the tool is to finalizing your check and running all of your checks.
The tool helps you to optimize the content on your website by specifying the pages that you want Google to display, which further allows you to test the hreflang tags on your sitemap and find areas of improvement for your developers.
This tool by Aleyda Solis is less of a hreflang checker tool and more of a generator.
This tool helps you to quickly generate hreflang header codes for URLs in a given language or country, helping you get through a large number of tags and giving you a list of reference codes.
The Media Flow
The Media Flow tool focuses less on speed and more on the quantity of generated hreflang URLs.
This makes it a great tool for large websites or companies that have many different languages and country versions that need a hreflang tag.
In order to use it, simply upload a CSV file and let the tool do the heavy lifting for you. The clear process helps to generate the codes as quickly as possible while keeping quality at the forefront of the process.
This hreflang checker tool can quickly analyze a large number of URLs through either manual upload or a sitemap.
It also provides you with a list of the individual errors for each URL, and helps you speed up your optimization process with an exportable errors list you can send directly to your developer.
Hreflang tags are an essential part of managing a website in multiple languages for global audiences.
Hreflang checker tools provide an invaluable service to enterprises and smaller global businesses that need to take control of their SEO strategy across international lines.
While hreflang tags are important, they are only a small part of a global SEO approach.
With so many different international SEO tactics to keep in mind, it can be confusing for marketers to understand without an example. Thankfully, we can help.
Our international SEO case study will walk you through how we generated two million sessions without spending a dime on ads.
We’ll explain the tactics we approached and go through the results in detail so you can see how the process works from beginning to end.