Let’s Talk Hreflang

How to Implement Hreflang


You’ve got a really sharp website. The content is perfect. The graphics are magic. The headings, pages, and sitemap are all up to snuff.  The blog is updated regularly. The social media marketing is ticking along. You’ve localized the content and have websites for multiple countries. Problem is, no one is visiting.

It doesn’t make sense – you’re following all the SEO best practice that you’ve read about. You worked hard on the website, and even though you’re not an SEO or digital marketing expert – you feel like you’ve ticked all the boxes. Hmm, must be a problem with Google – it can’t be something you’ve done – or could it?


Yeah, we’ll just let that sit there. Think about it. Does it give you any clues into what is or isn’t happening with your websites? Since you’re not an SEO professional, hreflang probably means absolutely nothing to you. In fact, when it comes down to it – it’s all Greek to you.

This is what separates us from you. We know hreflang. We know how hreflang can be the missing link in website performance. Hreflang – an important confusing little word. Let’s dig in and put an end to the confusion.

What is Hreflang?

The hreflang attribute was introduced by Google in 2011 as a way to differentiate web pages and websites using multiple languages. Your searchers in Spain can see the Spanish version of your website and your searchers in Japan can see the Japanese version of your website. In other words, you’re able to provide location-specific content to people looking for your products, services, and website.

Of course, hreflang doesn’t matter if you don’t have multiple language versions of your website. (Hint: if you don’t have multiple language versions of your website – contact us. Chances are high that you’re missing out an international customer base. Trust us, on this – after all – we are the SEO experts.)

So, let’s imagine that you have multiple language versions of your website. You’ve done your research and figured out (or guessed) where your searchers and customers are coming from. You found a translator and had your website translated into multiple languages. But still, something is off.

Hreflang. This is the missing link. Even though you’ve got Dutch, French, Welsh, Spanish, American English, and Cantonese websites – you’re not getting the traffic you planned for. The hreflang attribute tells Google which language-version to serve in the search results.

When used correctly, hreflang makes sure that your Dutch searchers see the Dutch content and not the Cantonese. So yeah, an important funny little word that can make a world of difference in how your website ranks and performs in search engine results.

Now, we’re not going to get into the technical details here of how to use hreflang. This can be super complicated and we don’t want your eyes to glaze over. Suffice it to say – we can make sure you’re using hreflang properly. (We’ll likely find some other ways to improve your website while we’re at it….)

Hreflang and SEO

Google is smart but it still needs a helping hand. This is what hreflang does – it helps Google figure out which version of your website to serve up in the search engine results. This little attribute lets you target your content to the people you know are looking for it.

Your research told you that you have lots of searchers coming from Wales and The Netherlands so you want to make sure these people are getting the right versions of your website. By making it easy for Google to displaying the locale and language-specific content, your website can rank higher in search engine results – improving your SEO.

Hint: remember that your meta descriptions need to be localized. There is not much point in having a Welsh version of your website with English meta descriptions. This is both frustrating and annoying for your searchers.

Remember when we mentioned above that we wouldn’t get into the technical details of hreflang, well this is because if it’s not done correctly, you’ll actually end up hurting your SEO… However, we do know that some of you want to go for it and do it all, so please keep in mind these keys when using the hreflang attribute:

  • Location matters. The hreflang attribute can be used in multiple places. Don’t use all of them – doing so can impact your SEO.
  • Image matters. The hreflang attribute must be formatted properly. Make sure you’re using the correct language and region codes.
  • Ranking matters. The hreflang attribute can help you rank higher in search engine results – but this little attribute is not the solution to your SEO woes.
  • Words matter. Please, please use a professional translator. Don’t run your content through Google translate. Do not create content that is not professionally translated. Your searchers are smart and they don’t want to be insulted by a poorly or partially translated website. If you want them to buy from you – make sure you do everything right.

Yes, we know – this is not simple. In fact, it likely still seems like Greek to you. We get it. This is why we do what we do and you do what you do.

Contact us and we’ll get you sorted. There are no guarantees that hreflang is going to solve all your problems – but it can make a difference. While we’re getting your localized websites up to snuff, we’ll also do some poking around and look for other ways to improve your SEO.

Oh, and so you’ve got localized websites – do you have localized social media content? Yeah, that’s right – we think of everything at KNOW Agency. Trust us – we are your trusted SEO and digital marketing partner.

Relevant Blogs

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Recent Case Studies