Many websites serve users from around the world with content translated or targeted to users in a certain region. Google uses the rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” attributes to serve the correct language or regional URL in Search results.
This annotation enables Google and other search engines to serve the correct language or regional version of pages to searchers, which can lead to increased user satisfaction.
The Language Targeting section in the International Targeting in Google Webmaster Tools feature enables you to identify two of the most common issues with hreflang annotations:
- Missing return links: annotations must be confirmed from the pages they are pointing to. If page A links to page B, page B must link back to page A, otherwise the annotations may not be interpreted correctly.
- Incorrect hreflang values: The value of the hreflang attribute must either be a language code in ISO 639-1 format such as “es”, or a combination of language and country code such as “es-AR”, where the country code is in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format.
Google has also moved the geographic targeting setting to this part of Webmaster Tools, so that all information relevant to international and multilingual targeting can be found in the same place.