Google Adds Alternate & Hreflang Attributes

Google introduced new SEO specific attributes for handling multi-lingual pages and content. The new attributes are rel=”alternate” and hreflang=”x”. It looks something like this when used in the source code of your files:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”a-different-language” href=”http://url-of-the-different-language-page” />

Google says it should be used when (1) template (i.e. side navigation, footer) is machine-translated into various languages, and/or (2) main content remains unchanged, creating largely duplicate pages.

The attributes should be used in conjunction with the rel=”canonical” or 301 redirects you have set up. The Google post goes into detail on how it should be used, but in summary, there are two steps:

Step 1: Once you have the canonical picked out you can use either rel=”canonical” or a 301 (permanent redirect) from the various localized pages to the canonical URL.

Step 2: On the canonical URL, specify the language-specific duplicated content with different boilerplate via the rel=”alternate” link tag, using its hreflang attribute. This way, Google can show the correctly-localized variant of your URLs to our international users.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Google: Webmaster Central

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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