Some websites consist of multiple versions intended for different geographic regions or languages. This makes the site accessible to people across the world. In the past, pages would have to tell Google what language to display using the hreflang attribute.
What Is the Hreflang Attribute?
The hreflang attribute is code that is added to a website to tell Google which language is being used on that page. It would look something like rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” and would be placed in the HTTP header, on-page markup, or on the sitemap.
This function was introduced in 2011 to help search engines identify the relationships between pages that could be displayed in alternate languages. It allowed sites to offer a localized experience for different audiences. This tool didn’t influence search results ranking specifically, but was intended to ensure that each visitor sees content that is relevant to them.
Does the Hreflang Attribute Still Apply In 2018?
Search engines are getting smarter. Google webmaster trends analyst John Mueller was asked on Twitter on April 25th, 2018 if hreflang tags are needed to display different languages. Mueller responded by stating that “If it’s in a different language, usually Google can figure that out without hreflang. Most queries are clearly in one language, so we can send users to that version of the page.”
It’s still important to include hreflang because Google doesn’t always choose the alternate page. However, some sites may no longer need this element to get the search engine to display the correct content. If you’re ready to learn more or build a fully-optimized, multi-language site, let us know. We’re available in Southeast Michigan to provide website building and SEO services that utilize current best practices all around the globe.