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International SEO hreflang tips: Check, check and check again

Joost de Valk at International Search Summit Munich

If you work at all in international SEO, you will definitely have come across the hreflang markup. Implementing it correctly can hugely improve the performance of global sites, yet getting it wrong can have the opposite effect and cause huge headaches. At the International Search Summit Munich, CEO of Yoast and SEO specialist Joost de Valk will be sharing his experience of rolling out hreflang across major global websites and providing tactics and tips for getting it right. He shares a few of those tips here.

Joost, why is using hreflang so important on international websites?

If you have a page in multiple languages, you want Google to send people to the page in the right language for the user. Unfortunately for most websites, one specific language has far more links than other languages, so that would be the page Google would send people to; whereas your localized version of the page would never get that traffic. Hreflang is meant to mitigate that issue by sending people to the right page in the right language. In fact, for some countries it is even important that you go to the right locale, for instance, de_DE versus de_AT, and hreflang can help fix this too.

Correctly implementing it can be a challenge – why is that and what are the common mistakes?

I will go over the common mistakes in my ISS presentation, but they include things like using wrong country codes, pointing to wrong URLs, being inconsistent between pages and lots more. It is easy to make mistakes against hreflang because it is a rather tough standard.

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What is the top tip you would give when it comes to hreflang implementation?

Check. Check again. Then check again every month. This stuff is bound to break on a website that is being actively developed.

What is the top tip you would give to marketers who are targeting different markets online?

Train people for project management topics, before you start educating them about SEO. Most of the failures in international SEO comes from miscommunication/ lack of monitoring process and seldom due to lack of good SEO knowledge. And spend some more time on building up automated monitoring systems and processes that resolve any SEO risks.

What will attendees learn from your ISS session?

We will cover the key areas of:

  • How to set up hreflang correctly
  • Common pitfalls to avoid
  • How to check for a correct setup and how to verify that regularly

And why should people attend ISS?

Because I am there? 🙂

So if you want to hear from Joost and a range of other international search marketing experts, join us at the International Search Summit Munich on 16th March, 2016 as part of SMX Munich. Other sessions will include Rahul Gupta talking about managing SEO across multiple countries, John Müller of Google sharing his top international SEO tips and Cees Kardolus from SAP discussing creating a winning global digital strategy.

Check out the full agenda and sign up today – saving 15% with the discount code webcertain16

Still not sure if it is for you? Find out more about what to expect here:

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Gemma Houghton

Director of Marketing at Webcertain
Gemma has worked in international search marketing for over 15 years and is Director of Marketing at Webcertain, overseeing all marketing activities for the Group. She also organises and programmes Webcertain’s International Search Summit and International Social Summit, Barcelona-based conferences focusing on international and multilingual digital marketing. Gemma holds a Professional Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, a Diploma in Management and Leadership from the Chartered Management Institute, and a BA joint honours degree in French and German.

3 Responses to International SEO hreflang tips: Check, check and check again

  1. Gemma Birch says:

    Thanks Mamad and San Diego Hills for your questions.

    Hreflang only applies to websites which has different language/country versions – and it exists to tell the search engines which version each web page is intended for which country and language.

    So it would apply if you had different versions for the UK and the US, but if you just have an English website (or another language) with one version, you won’t need to use hreflang.

  2. Mamad M says:

    I have a wedding photography website for my business based in the UK aimed at English speaking people.
    Is there any need to implement the hreflang in this case?
    It sounds so complicated. I don’t want to mess it up!

  3. san diego hills says:

    if the blog was only in one language, is need using hreflang ?

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