Multilingual website optimization and hreflang tags

From the situation of my personal SEO service projects in the past two years, more and more companies need to do multi-language website optimization. Domestic companies do multilingual websites, mostly e-commerce companies, and want to sell products. Foreign companies also have a lot of Chinese websites, but there are not many e-commerce categories, such as big brands, study abroad/immigrants.

If there are few languages ​​involved, such as only English and Chinese websites, if the language usage is not complicated, there is no special requirement for doing SEO. English and Chinese websites can be placed on two separate domain names, or they can be placed in the same domain name. The two sub-domains can even be placed in the secondary directory, and the content and structure can be related to each other. Basically, each can be done separately. Even if the content of the page is corresponding to the translation, there is no problem in the Chinese-English translation or English translation. The content is the same, the language is different, and the search engine does not consider it to be a copy.

Sometimes the situation is complicated, the same country uses multiple languages, and the difference in the number of users is not so large, like Chinese has an overwhelming mainstream status in China, such as Canada using English, French, Switzerland using German, French, Italian. A language is also often used in many countries, and English is the most widely spoken language in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and even Singapore.

In these slightly more complicated situations, you need to consider the SEO issues of some multilingual websites:

The same English website (or other languages), different countries or regions have their own independent domain names, although there may be some amendments, such as different spelling (British spelled colour, the United States spelled color), but the main content is the same, how Avoid being considered as copying content by search engines?
A language page is well-received, and there is a problem with another language. Can you let the search engine know where the other language version is, and improve the inclusion?
In the same country, there are different language users. How do you let search engines know which language the page is for?
Using the hreflang tag to set the language and region can help solve these problems.

The standard format of the hreflang tag is this:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.abc.com.cn” hreflang=”zh-cn” />

The hreflang tag is divided into two parts, the front is the language, followed by the region. The above label indicates that this page is for Chinese (zh), Chinese users (cn).

corresponding:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.abc.com.au” hreflang=”en-au” />

Refers to English, Australia.

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.abc.co.uk” hreflang=”en-gb” />

Refers to English, the United Kingdom.

On the three websites, the above three tabs are placed, and the search engine knows that the versions for different languages ​​and regions are related, the respective URLs are, and will not be treated as duplicates.

There are a few more details to note.

The hreflang tag can be placed on different pages of the same domain name, or it can be placed across different domain names.

Hreflang can only write language part code, such as:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.abc.com” hreflang=”en” />

But you can’t just write the regional part:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.abc.ca” hreflang=”ca” />

The above is invalid, only the area code ca, will not be automatically judged to be English or French.

All hreflang tags are added to all language pages to form mutual confirmation. The Chinese page indicates that it is Chinese and indicates where the English version is. The English page also confirms that it is in English and the corresponding Chinese version is where.

The code representing the language is to comply with the ISO 369-1 standard, and the code representing the region is to comply with the ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 standard. When writing code, it is best to check the official website, don’t take it for granted. For example, as mentioned above, the UK region code is GB, not UK, and the domain name suffix is ​​not the same.

The Chinese language code is ZH, not CN. This is valid:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.abc.cn” hreflang=”zh” />

This is invalid:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.abc.cn” hreflang=”cn” />

As another example, the Japanese page of a recent customer is written like this:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.abc.co.jp” hreflang=”jp” />

This is wrong. As mentioned earlier, you can only write language code, but the Japanese language code is JA, not JP.

For another example, the Korean language code is KO, not KR, although the Korean regional code and domain name suffix is ​​kr.

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