If your business spans multiple countries, your website must be optimized for all those users living across different regions who visit your website.

This can be made possible using hreflang tags which let search engines know about the language of the content.

In this article, we’ll answer every question related to hreflang in detail and list four hreflang generators and testing tools.

So let’s dive in!

What is Hreflang?

Hreflang is an HTML attribute that lets search engines know about the relationship between multiple versions of pages in different languages on your website. 

Introduced by Google in 2011, the hreflang tag is necessary when you create content targeted to the audience of a specific geolocation.

For example, if you create a German version of your English website, using hreflang tags tells search engines about it and displays the correct version of the search results to users who understand the German language.

Take our website Geekflare for example.

If you’re in the United States, you might see the US-English version of our website.

geekflare-website-us-english-version

But if you’re in Germany, you will see the German version of our website.

geekflare-website-german-version

Hreflang helps increase conversion rate by ensuring that your target user lands on the correct version of the search result.

Benefits of Hreflang for SEO

One of the main advantages of using a hreflang tag is to give your content an international SEO boost. 

If your vision is to go global with your online business, then hreflang tag acts as a signal to search engines to ensure that the search result is delivered to the users in the local or preferred language. 

This creates a better user experience searching in that location and increases the conversion rate, which further results in higher search engine ranking.

In addition to that, it also helps to prevent duplicate content issues. 

While you may have almost similar content optimized for two or more languages, search engines can’t distinguish between them and see it as duplicate content. This can impact the page ranking.

However, hreflang helps search engines to clarify that though there’s similar content on your website, they’re optimized for different regions and languages.

This way, it saves global SEO brands from penalties arising due to duplicate content.

What are Hreflang Tags, and What Can You Achieve With Them?

Hreflang tags are a link tag attribute to mark pages with similar content but are optimized for different languages and regions.

In other words, they are snippets of code that help web crawlers to understand where your web page would be visible to the users. 

Hreflang tags are an important part of international SEO strategy. In addition, you can achieve more with these tags and not just optimize a website for multilingual content.

Here are some critical things that hreflang tags help us with:

  • Optimizing websites tailored to different countries and languages
  • Protects the website from duplicate content issues
  • Helps global brands to target regional markets
  • Better conversion rates and improved page rankings 

How is Canonicalization Different From Hreflang?

Canonical tags tell search engines to index the page higher, which contains the original content. 

In other words, if more than one website has similar content, canonical tags suggest the search engine to index the original one and ignore the others.

It helps to promote the URL that has the master content.

On the other hand, hreflang suggests search engines to index the searched page and all others having similar content in different languages.   

After that, it signals search engines to promote the most relevant URL according to the user’s location and language preferences.

How Do Hreflang Tags Affect Website Ranking?

Hreflang lets you show your website in different locations and languages without duplicate issues. However, it doesn’t affect the website rankings in any manner.

This means that adding hreflang tags won’t make your website rank higher or lower on search engine results. 

It simply notifies search engines about the relationship between the websites in alternate languages.

Note: Using hreflang tags might increase your website traffic, but it won’t affect search rankings.

How to Construct and Implement Hreflang Tags?

There are three ways to create and implement hreflang tags:

#1. HTML Headers

Adding a <link> element to the section of the page pointing toward a specific language in the HTML header, which looks like this:

<link rel=“alternate” hreflang=“en-us”href=“http//example.com/home”/>

#2. HTTP Headers

If you want to create alternate pages like PDFs or other non-HTML files, you can use the HTTP header to indicate an alternate language version:

http://example.com/>;rel=alternate;hreflang=“en-us” <http://de.example.com/>;rel=“alternate”;hreflang=“de”

#3. XML Sitemap

Instead of changing HTTP or HTML header, you can also use a sitemap to implement all your tags and tell search engines of different language variants for each URL.

It’s a simple method where you can add <xhtml:link at the beginning of your URL like:

<xhtml:link rel=“alternate”hreflang=“en-us” href=“x-default”

After adding all the relevant tags in one file, you can submit the updated sitemap to Google Search Console.

How to Find and Resolve the Hreflang Issue?

You may encounter some issues with hreflang attributes that slip through the net. The best way to discover such issues is to crawl your website using third-party audit tools.

Let’s have a look at some common issues related to hreflang tags and how to fix them.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Using Hreflang Tags

While setting up hreflang tags, you may encounter a few issues that can decrease website traffic and duplicate content issues.

Here are some common issues that can arise during the setup and ways to resolve those:

#1. Missing Self-Referencing Attribute

Not making hreflang self-referencing can drop your website traffic significantly. Thanks to multiple site audit tools which scan for different types of issues, including self-referencing attributes, and fix them in no time.

#2. Improper Tags

The issue of incomplete or improper tags may include the wrong country or language codes. It can also arise by putting wrong values in your HTML code. However, the web crawler notifies you about such mistakes, and you can fix them afterward.

#3. Blocked Pages

Before using hreflang tags, make sure you don’t have:

  • Any page listed with robots.txt
  • Noindex tag on any plugins

This results in blocked pages and might remove your website from indexing. And if your page is blocked from being indexed, hreflang tags are useless.

#4. Wrong Language Encoding

If your website targets the United Kingdom, but the language encoding is for the USA (US English instead of UK English), it might cause a conflict with both the sites appearing on the search result page.

That’s why you must ensure your web pages have the correct language encoding designated on every site.

#5. Invalid Language Code

It’s recommended to use the ISO 639-1 format for language codes. The purpose of using a valid country code indicates the use of that specific language in that region.  

Hreflang Generator and Testing Tools to Use

#1. Incrementors

incrementors

Incrementors provide a simple hreflang tag generator tool that lets you create HTML hreflang tags for your multilingual web pages in no time.

The process of using the tool is quite simple:

Enter your website’s domain, pick the language you want to convert your website in, and choose the region if you want. 

Incrementors will instantly generate the hreflang tag.

Copy the hreflang tag from the orange-colored box and add it to every page’s header you want to convert from your primary language to some other language.

Note: The tool is completely free to use. You don’t even need to sign up to the platform.

#2. Geo Targetly

geo-targetly

Geo Targetly helps brands maximize their website conversion by redirecting their audience to geo-specific pages. 

It uses IP geolocation technology to automatically direct a website user to location-specific pages resulting in an increased conversion rate.

The platform comes with a URL shortener that allows you to create short URLs which you can share on social media platforms to direct your traffic to region-specific websites.

What’s more, the no-code setup reduces spam by automatically blocking unwanted users from accessing your websites or a specific page.

Geo Targetly provides a free hreflang tag generator tool that easily generates hreflang tags for your location-specific website. 

You simply need to add the page URL, the preferred language, and the country’s name to generate tags.

#3. Sistrix

sistrix

Sistrix is an SEO software that analyzes data from major web platforms and provides companies with the best tools for better search result ranking.  One of its tools helps you generate hreflang tags.

The process of hreflang code generation with Sistrix is quite similar to the process we did for Incrementors.

Just type in your domain name, language, and region (optional). The tool will instantly give you the hreflang according to the specifics you entered.

#4. Aleyda Solis

aleyda-solis

With Aleyda Solis’ tool, you can generate hreflang tags in different languages and countries using Google’s specification and valid language and country codes.

Aleyda Solis is a leading international SEO expert that provides personalized SEO solutions to well-known brands around the world.

The platform lets you manually enter your website’s URL or upload it through CSV and generate hreflang annotations.

But that’s just not it; with Aleyda Solis, you can audit the common issues related to hreflang and drill down to find solutions to resolve them.

Wrapping Up

Hreflang is meant for businesses and websites with significant traffic coming in from a specific location and are capable of taking their brand global.

If you’re doing well in one country, chances are you might also do great in other countries. That’s because if your target audience is product managers, every country will have product managers and might require what you offer.

So use the above tools to generate hreflang tags and take your business global.