DEV Community

Cover image for SEO: hreflang attribute for content with multiple translations
Dmytro Habaznia
Dmytro Habaznia

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

SEO: hreflang attribute for content with multiple translations

Read this article in ukrainian:

What is a hreflang Attribute?

hreflang attribute is a part of the HTML tag:

<link rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="uk-ua" />
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The presence of this tag means that the page on which it is placed has translations in other languages.

This tag is intended to facilitate the indexing of your site by search engines. Google uses "hreflang" to determine which version of the page to suggest to the user.

Adding the hreflang

For example, you have a website localized in two languages: the main language - Ukrainian, and an additional one - English. In this case, your <head> tag should contain the following:

  <link rel="alternate" hrefLang="en" href={``} />
  <link rel="alternate" hrefLang="uk-UA" href={``} />
  <link rel="alternate" hrefLang="x-default" href={``} />
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

In this example, hrefLang attributes contain locale names.

Look at the hreflang value for the Ukrainian localization: in addition to the translation language value, it also has the specified region "UA". Thus, for another region, you can create your own localization in this language. However, if the region is not important - it can be omitted, for example, both users from "en-NZ" and from "en-US" will get to the "en" locale.

The x-default value will be used by the search engine if the user's locale does not match any of the listed ones. Then the page specified in the tag with x-default will be returned to the user.

Href Attribute Value

There is a nuance related to the value of the href attribute - the link to the localized page must be absolute, along with https:// and the domain name. Google will not accept links, /en and others.

Common Mistakes

  1. Make sure that each version of the page has a return link to all available localization options.

Suppose we have two versions of the same page, in languages X and Y. It follows that page X should have link tags with "hreflang=X" and "hreflang=Y".

Page Y must have identical hreflang, too. If page Y does not have, for example, `hreflang=X', then Google will refuse to index it.

  1. Check that you have entered the values exactly in ISO_639-1 format. Localization names in this standard differ from country codes. As an example, you may have already noticed that the "uk" localization means the Ukrainian localization. The British localization is indicated as "gb".

  2. The specified locale "hreflang" must match the value specified in the <html lang=""> tag. The value of this attribute should change with localization.

  3. Not specified or invalid x-default.

  4. The specified relative, not the absolute value of href. Only links of the format "" will be valid, not "" or "/en".

How to Check the Validity of the hreflang on Your Website?

For automatic analysis of errors related to localization, I recommend the site Although you can find more similar services by searching on Google.

More articles in my personal blog:

Top comments (0)