Fixing Issues with Hreflang Links

If your website is available in multiple languages, hreflang tags are a simple way to make sure visitors are ending up on the page with their preferred language. 

This is important for SEO as search engines may rank the wrong URL for the target language or location. If the search engine can’t determine which page is correct, it may decide not to rank any content at all. 

The problem here is obvious: if you’re not ranking or the wrong URL is ranking, fewer people will see your content organically. You also run the risk of your site being penalized by Google’s Panda algorithm for duplicate content. 

If you’re having issues with hreflang links or don’t understand the importance of this tag, then this article is for you.

Why Should You Care About Hreflang Tags?

Problems with the Hreflang redirection cause faulty indexing instructions. As a result, this error may significantly harm your page’s search results, as well as your page’s availability. 

Visitors who attempt to access your website will be sent to an outdated page version instead. Additionally, a redirect error will reduce your website’s searchability and lead to specific URLs being excluded from the index.

How Do You Fix Issues with Hreflang Links?

Here are some of the most common hreflang issues and the way to fix them:

Misleading Hreflang Annotation

The issue occurs on  pages with invalid language and locale annotations (hreflangs), for example, a “en-en” or “en-uk”, instead of “en-gb.”

The solution is to fix the hreflang” attribute’s language annotations using the ISO 639-1 format. Locale attribute optional annotations must follow ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format.

Here is an example:

Missing Hreflang Annotation for Self-Reference 

You need a hreflang annotation in the Meta tags of every page on your site. For instance, if you have a Spanish translation of your page, you should annotate it with rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es” and link to the Spanish version of the page within the hreflang annotations.

Multiple Languages Support the Referred Page through the Hreflang Tag

To ensure that only one language version of a page is ever linked to, you must review the hreflang annotations for reported pages and make any necessary adjustments. 

Note that numerous hreflang values for the same language can be assigned to the same URL, e.g., as en-us, en-gb, etc.

Hreflang has Multiple Entries for the Same Language

Check to make sure each language (or language-locale) only has one hreflang annotation per page.

Conflict between HTML and Hreflang Encodings

Inconsistency between the HTML language and the declared hreflang can also cause problems. To fix this,  verify that the page’s hreflang metatag and HTML Lang attribute indicate the same language.

Broken Hreflang Links (No Return Tag)

You can avoid this problem by using consistent hreflang annotations across all translated or region-specific versions of your pages.

Hreflang to Non-Canonical

To ensure your hreflang tags are pointing to the correct version of a page, verify that all of the hreflang” annotations correctly redirect to the canonical page.

Hreflang to a Broken Page

To eliminate this problem, check that all of the hreflang annotation links lead to functional resources.

Successful Use of Hreflang Requires Attention to Detail

Of all the issues SEO professionals deal with on a regular basis, problems with hreflang tags are one of the most minor. They’re fairly uncomplicated and only require attention to detail and good organizational skills.

It can be tedious, however, which makes automation from a tool like Evisio invaluable. Without manually checking the code of every page, this automated SEO tool helps you find issues as they arise, and then gives you step-by-step instructions to quickly fix them.

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