Common mistakes in implementing the HREFLANG tags

Hreflang is indeed a critical topic and has immense importance in the domain of search engine optimization as it plays a great role in targeting international web audience. Often it seems to be an ordeal to implement it properly in a site that is geo targeted and most of the time its viability is misapprehended. It had been quite some time now that hreflang had been around but still the search engine optimization specialists are facing problem in using it accurately. Even the experienced search optimization experts often hold wrong ideas about the correct usage of the hreflang for setting up the sites at international level successfully.

The utility of the hreflang annotations lie in cross referencing the different pages that comprise content of similar nature and target audience with different needs. Various audiences can be targeted depending on the languages they are acquainted with and the country they belong to. The element basically assures that the correct set of page will be displayed to the right user as the search will be conducted over the specific Google version targeted.

Let’s have the instance of the two hreflang tags targeting the English speakers in Canada and the English speakers in U.S.

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-us” href=”” />
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-ca” href=”” />

These two tags appear on the two pages and assure that the Americans conducting a search on will come across pages targeting Americans and users from Canada searching over Google will reach out the pages targeting users from Canada.

Now let’s have some clarity on the correct usage of hreflang with a detailed discussion on the misconceptions and mistakes undertaken related to implementation of the same.

Popular Mistakes related to Hreflang

• Return Tag Errors caused by the hreflang annotations that don’t cross reference one another.
• Use of Wrong Country or Language Codes
• Combination of Hreflang Sitemaps and Page Tagging Methods and it is something that Google never recommends.
• Considering that hreflang annotations will be consolidating link authority and this is one of the mistakes commonly made by the most experienced search engine optimization specialist. One of the best ways to build and consolidate link authority is to centralize all content in one domain. The domain must be a generic one or a top-level one so that it becomes easier in creating a language or country specific content.
Once, all these misconceptions can be eliminated implementation of hreflang will be a mere easy task no doubt.