Google is one of the world most popular search engines used by many people for different IT related purposes. A search engine is a program designed to retrieve information on the world wide website. Other search engines includes Safari from apples, Opera from opera mini foundation, Mozilla firefox from mozilla foundation and UC browser and netscape navigator from netscape foundation.
When information is retrieved from google,it has ablility to detect and understand which language has been used, this is made possible through use of href lang tag. This tag translated to rel=’alternate’ hreflang=’x’. This tag specifically point between country code and language variations which technically enables users to get the right information when they google something in their language using their browsers. That are usually variation in language in different country but all in all they end up referring to one common thing or phenomenon. Example of such variation in British English and American English include rubber/eraser, mash/potatoes, loo/restroom,flat/apartment. Such examples makes the browser to invoke the use of this tag in order to enable them understand it differently in different language setups.
There are different ways in which this tag could be implemented, however non of them has technical preference over one another. This ways include:
- HTTP Headers:Link:http://www.examples.com/en-us/;rel=”alternate”;hreflang=”en”
- XML sitemaps: <url>
<loc>http://www.example.com/</loc><xhtml: link rel=alternate
<xhtml:link rel =”alternate hreflang=”en-us”
Hreflang=”en –gb href =”http//www.example.com/en-gb/”
- Head section of an HTML document:
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=http://www.example.com/”/>
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-us” href=”http//www.example.com/”>
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-gb” href=”http//www.examples.co.uk/”/>
<link rel =”alternate hreflang=”en href=http://www.examples.de/>
<link rel =”alternate hreflang=”de-de”href=http://www.examples.de/”/>
The above mechanisms are mostly used to implement href tag in google browser in order for it to understand different languages that the user may query out.
The following common mistakes out to be avoided when implementing hreflang tag.
Missing confirmation links: If a page a links to page B must link back to page A. if this is not the case for all pages that use hreflang annotations, those annotations may be ignored or not interpreted correctly
Incorrect language codes: Makes sure that all language codes you use idea link back to the form all language used
What is X-default hreflang:
This is used to specify the default page when no other page is better suited. For example it would be the page google tries to show Spanish speaking searches worldwide or English speaking searches in Canada on google.ca.
Another use for x-default is for home pages that are not targeted at specific language but allow users to target at their specific countries instead.
Example of this tag on popular sites:
Facebook: international domain strategy: subdomains(eg ese s.facebook.com)
Hreflang:<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=” es-es href=https://es-es facebook.com
International domain strategy: mixed-subfolders and separate domains
Hreflang:<link rel”alternate” hreflang”fr-FR” href=”http//www.asos.fr”/>
NOTE: While doing your forward and back linking of webpages ensure the links are made properly in manner that hreflang can easily notice this annotations conclusively. Example when A is linked to B forwardly, ensure that B is equally linked to A backwardly, this is the properly written syntax readable by hreflang tags.
- Search engines such as Bing embedded in Microsoft does not make use of hreflang, they make use of Meta language Tag in two manners:
<meta http-equiv=”content-language” content=”en-us”>
Alternative syntax could be coded as followed:
<meta name=”language” content=”English”> this option mainly applicable when targeting language while the first option applies while targeting language and country.