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Google Announces New “hreflang” Annotation

What’s a hreflang? Besides being one of those crazy noises you make when you first wake up in the morning, “hreflang” is Google’s newest annotation.

According to the Google Webmaster Central Blog, the new x-default hreflang attribute value signals to Google’s algorithms that the international landing page “doesn’t target any specific language or locale and is the default page when no other page is better suited.”

Google announced today a new rel-alternate-hreflang annotation that webmasters can use to identify international landing pages. Supported by both Google and Yandex, the hreflang attribute is specifically for the homepages of multinational and multilingual websites that are configured to point visitors to localized pages “either via redirects or by changing the content to reflect the user’s language.”

As an example, the Google Webmaster Central Blog uses the website example.com, which targets users around the world as follows:

  • http://example.com/en-gb: For English-speaking users in the UK
  • http://example.com/en-us: For English-speaking users in the USA
  • http://example.com/en-au: For English-speaking users in Australia
  • http://example.com/: The homepage shows users a country selector and is the default page for users worldwide

In the example, example.com’s webmaster could annotate the cluster of pages using rel-alternate-hreflang using Sitemaps or using HTML link tags.

Additionally, the same rel-alternate-hreflang annotation applies for “homepages that dynamically alter their contents based on a user’s perceived geolocation or the Accept-Language headers.” In the latter case, the x-default hreflang value signals to Google’s algorithms that such a homepage isn’t targeting a specific language or locale.

For more details see the Google blog post.

About Garry Grant

Garry Grant is a veteran expert in search engine optimization and the digital marketing industry. With nearly 20 years of experience, Garry has successfully built a multi-service operation at SEO, Inc., developing proprietary technologies through complex strategic solutions. He has extensive experience in key initiatives and operational responsibilities grounded in information technology and performance management.

Garry’s expertise and esteemed reputation, coupled with SEO Inc.’s impressive client success record has earned him such accolades as Entrepreneur Magazine's 2005 Hot List for the Hottest Internet Property, Inc. 500 2007 Honorary award for Fastest Growing Private Company in America, an Inc. 500 top 50 Company in San Diego, and interviews with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post.

Garry Grant began his online career in 1993 creating strategic Web and e-business solutions for Homepage.com, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Premiere Radio Networks, Clear Channel Communications, EarthLink and Artisan Motion Pictures. Today, Garry and SEO Inc.’s highly skilled digital strategists develop proprietary technology and strategic digital marketing direction for Fortune 500 companies including, SC Johnson, McAfee, Entrepreneur.com., Inc Magazine, IGN, Tacorri, LPL Financial, National Kidney Foundation, G4 TV, Fuel TV and Sony, just to name a few.