The hreflang attribute is important for managing different language versions of multilingual websites. With Ryte, you can easily check your implementation of hreflang tags, and detect errors.
Google introduced the hreflang attribute in 2011, as an increasing number of websites were operating internationally and offering their services and products globally. Ideally, the content of a website should be provided according to the user’s location, and displayed in the respective language of the browser. This is important for two reasons:
The hreflang tag is a meta tag, but it should be regarded as a link to another page. It is similar to the canonical tag, as it helps search engines better understand the correlation between two or more URLs.
The hreflang tag is not considered a ranking factor, but it can have a positive impact on search engine optimization, for example it can prolong the user’s stay on the website, which in turn provides positive user signals to search engines. The hreflang tag can also help avoid issues with duplicate content, as it indicates to search engines what is the relevant content for different countries. For example, if website operators want to have slightly different content for their US and UK markets, they can use the hreflang attribute to show google which versions of the website should be displayed in the United Kingdom and the United States respectively.
If your hreflang tags are not implemented correctly, this can negatively affect SEO, as it is not clear to Google which URL should be shown in each country. A correct hreflang set up is important for an international website. With Ryte, you can easily check your implementation of the hreflang tag. You can find the language report in Website Success under "multilingual settings". There are three categories:
This category shows all of your analyzed URLs, and to which documents they are referring to. The column “Translations” shows you which translations the HTML document is referring to. For example, the URL https://de.ryte.com/magazine has hreflang tags referring to the English, French and Spanish translations, as well as to the German page itself.
Figure 1: Incoming translations
In the column "Incoming Translations", you can see which other HTML documents refer to this page as its translation. In this case, there is a mistake in the incoming translations column. As the URL in the list is the English version of the website, all other URLs referring to this document should consequently note this in the language code. If this was the case, the language "English" would be listed in the incoming translation list. However, in this case, the incoming translation to has "German" marked in the language code, which is why it is marked with a red exclamation mark.
To find missing translations, click on the most left hand bar "None". Then you can filter according to the OPR (OnPage Rank) - this is an indicator of the popularity and importance of the page, so if you have any pages with a high OPR and no translation, these should probably be translated.
The report translation counts shows you the number of translations and incoming translations a particular URL has. Ideally, the number of translations should be identical to the number of incoming translations. If this is not the case, you should dig a little deeper. Sometimes, soft 404 pages account for a wrong number of Incoming translations, or the hreflang tag has been set incorrectly and all sites reference the same URL as their translation.
Tip: Sort the number of Incoming Translations in descending order. This way, you can easily tell if there are any major deviations between both columns. To find more information about each URL, click on the magnifying class to load the inspector.
Similar to the Status Code report of the link targets, this category reviews the Status Codes of the Translations. This report helps you to detect typos or mistakes in the hreflang tag so that you can correct them as quickly as possible to avoid 404 Status Codes.
Figure 2: Status codes
As well as the report specific for multilingual settings, you can also analyze the hreflang attribute within the links report. If you click on “Links”, “Overview”, “hreflang attribute”, you are able to see the hreflang language and country for every link of your website. You can then filter according to hreflang attributes that are either “not set,” are “ok”, or have a conflicting country or language.
Figure 3: Hreflang filters
The hreflang attribute is an important part of maintaining an international strategy. It means that users are shown the correct version of your website according to the country they are living in, improving usability. It also helps Google understand your website structure better, therefore helping the search engine optimization of your website. With Ryte, you can find potential mistakes in your hreflang tags, and work out which pages might require translation, helping to improve your website for the better.
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Published on 11/05/2018 by Katharina Bscheider.
Who writes here
Until 2016, Katharina was everyone's personal Ryte USP - with her friendly attitude and good spirits, she was the superwoman of the Product Management Team. In this role, she helped to optimize the Ryte modules.
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