Internet Marketing Tips, Suggestions, & Ramblings

New Elements for Dealing with Multilingual Google SEO

When you are dealing with multilingual websites there is a lot to consider, one of those things being allowing Google to identify the correct page for a specific language. In December, Google expanded the support of the rel=”alternate” hreflang link element to handle content that is translated or provided for multiple geographic regions.

rel=”alternate” hreflang link element

The rel=”alternate” hreflang link element can specify the language, optionally the country, and URLs of equivalent content.

To indicate to Google that you want the German version of the page to be served to searchers using Google in German, the en-us version to searchers using google.com in English, and the en-gb version to searchers using google.co.uk in English, use rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” to identify alternate language versions.

Update the HTML of each URL in the set by adding a set of rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” link elements. Include a rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” link for every URL in the set, like this:

  • <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=”http://www.example.com/page.html” />
  • <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-gb” href=”http://en-gb.example.com/page.html” />
  • <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-us” href=”http://en-us.example.com/page.html” />
  • <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”de” href=”http://de.example.com/seite.html” />
Multilingual Search Engine Optimization
Multilingual Search Engine Optimization

This markup tells Google’s algorithm to consider all of these pages as alternate versions of each other.

It is important to note that this is used on the page level and not the site level and you need to markup each page or set of pages individually or in your template.

rel=”canonical” link element may help in certain situations

It is important to note that there is another option for pages that have substantially the same content in the same language and are targeted at multiple countries. In this case you may use the rel=”canonical” link element to specify your preferred version.

Don’t forget your multilingual sitemaps!

As of yesterday Google is recommending that these annotations be added to the sitemap. This makes sense and is a logical progression of the markup evolution.

In the example below we wish to specify that for the URL http://www.example.com/en, targeting English language users, the equivalent URL targeting German language speakers http://www.example.com/de. Before this new sitemap option the only way to add these annotations was through the link element, either as an HTTP header or as HTML elements on both URLs like this:

  • <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=”http://www.example.com/en” >
  • <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”de” href=”http://www.example.com/de” >

As of today, Google is not letting you use the following equivalent markup in Sitemaps:

<url>

  <loc>http://www.example.com/en</loc>
  <xhtml:link 
    rel="alternate"
    hreflang="de"
    href="http://www.example.com/de" />
  <xhtml:link
    rel="alternate"
    hreflang="en"
    href="http://www.example.com/en" />
</url>
<url>
  <loc>http://www.example.com/de</loc>
  <xhtml:link
    rel="alternate"
    hreflang="de"
    href="http://www.example.com/de" />
  <xhtml:link
    rel="alternate"
    hreflang="en"
    href="http://www.example.com/en" />
</url>

With this new markup you now have yet another way to make Google aware of the multilingual elements that exist on your site.

References

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.