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Hreflang Study and Interesting Issues - Brighton SEO 2023 Patrick Stox

Hreflang Study and Interesting Issues - Brighton SEO 2023 Patrick Stox

Hreflang Study and Interesting Issues - Brighton SEO 2023 Patrick Stox

Patrick Stox

September 14, 2023
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  1. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    The most common
    hreflang issues across
    374,756 domains
    Patrick Stox
    Ahrefs
    Speakerdeck.com/patrickstox
    @patrickstox

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  2. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Who Is Patrick Stox?
    Product Advisor & Technical SEO @ Ahrefs
    Writing
    Ahrefs SEO book
    Ahrefs blog
    SEO Chapter of the Web Almanac 2021
    Technical Review Editor of the Art of SEO 4th edition
    Community
    Founded a Technical SEO slack group
    /r/TechSEO moderator on Reddit
    Organize Raleigh SEO Meetup, Raleigh SEO Conference,
    Beer & SEO
    Defined the role of SEO for the US Department of Labor

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  3. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Hreflang Is Hard
    TBH hreflang is one of the most complex
    aspects of SEO (if not the most complex
    one). Feels as easy as a meta-tag, but it
    gets really hard quickly.
    John Mueller - Google

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  4. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    67% Of Domains Have
    Hreflang Issues
    At least one hreflang issue

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  5. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Pages missing x-default
    Pages missing self-referencing hreflang tags
    Hreflang tags reference redirected or broken pages
    Pages missing reciprocal tags
    Hreflang tags pointing to non-canonical URLs
    Pages with incorrect hreflang values
    Pages with inconsistent hreflang values
    More than on page referenced for the same language
    The same page referenced for more than one language
    Top Hreflang Issues

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  6. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    56.3% of Domains Have Pages
    Missing X-Default Annotations
    Missing x-default

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  7. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X-default Is Not Required

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  8. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    It Works By Most Specific Match
    1. Language-country
    2. Language
    3. X-default

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  9. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    18% Of Domains Have Pages Missing
    Self-Referencing Hreflang Tags
    Missing self-referencing
    hreflang tags

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  10. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Self-Referencing Hreflang Tags
    Are Not Required

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  11. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    16.9% of Domains Have Hreflang Tags
    Referencing Redirected Or Broken Pages
    Hreflang tags reference
    redirected or broken
    pages

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  12. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    15.3% Of Domains Have Pages
    Missing Reciprocal Hreflang Tags
    Missing reciprocal
    hreflang tags

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  13. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Hreflang Tags Work In Pairs

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  14. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    They Form An Hreflang Cluster

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  15. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X Block Pages With Robots.txt

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  16. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Hreflang + Duplicate Pages –
    Signals Consolidate

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  17. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Ranking Is Based On The Indexed URL
    When someone searches:

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  18. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Versions Swap During Re-Ranking
    For an English speaker in the UK:
    Ranking based on en-us en-gb shown in SERPs

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  19. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Pages Don’t Swap When Tags Are Broken
    For an English speaker in the UK:
    Ranking based on en-us en-us shown in SERPs

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  20. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Non-Duplicate Pages Use Their
    Own Signals

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  21. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Some SEOs Say You Don’t Need Hreflang
    For Different Languages…

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  22. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Branded - English

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  23. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Branded - Spanish

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  24. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Branded - French

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  25. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Same Word - English

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  26. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Same Word - Spanish

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  27. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Same Word - French

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  28. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    8% Of Domains Have Hreflang Tags
    Pointing To Non-Canonical URLs
    Hreflang tags pointing to
    non-canonical URLs

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  29. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Hreflang Is A Canonicalization Signal,
    1 of ~20
    Hreflang URLs
    Canonical link element
    Sitemap URLs
    Redirects
    & More https://ahrefs.com/blog/canonicalization/

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  30. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    4.6% Of Domains Have Pages
    With Incorrect Hreflang Values
    Incorrect hreflang values

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  31. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    2 Letter Codes
    Language (ISO 639-1)
    Country (ISO 3166-1)

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  32. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X Country Code Instead Of
    Language Code
    jp instead of ja

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  33. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X Typos
    js instead of ja

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  34. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X Region Codes
    la is Laos, not Latin America

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  35. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X Three Letter Codes
    gbr instead of gb

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  36. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    ✓ en-uk Instead Of en-gb
    “uk” is specially reserved

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  37. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    No Error For It When This
    Report Existed

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  38. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    The Report Is Gone Now

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  39. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    3.2% Of Domains Have Pages With
    Inconsistent Language Attributes
    Inconsistent language
    attributes

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  40. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    2.5% Of Domains Have More Than One
    Page Referenced For The Same Language
    More than one page
    referenced for the same
    language

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  41. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X More Than One Page Referenced
    For The Same Language
    en > Page
    en > Page 2

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  42. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    2.5% Of Domains Have The Same Page
    Referenced For More Than One Language
    Same page referenced for
    more than one language

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  43. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X The Same Page Referenced
    For More Than One Language
    en > Page 1
    de > Page 1

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  44. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    What Else You Can Get Away With

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  45. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    ✓ Underscore Instead Of Dash
    en_gb instead of en-gb

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  46. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    ✓ Relative URLs Instead Of Absolute
    /page1 instead of
    https://domain.com/page1

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  47. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Other Things To Check

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  48. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X Multiple Language Versions
    On The Same Page
    URL1 – English Content
    URL1 – Spanish Content
    URL1 – German Content

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  49. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Automated Redirects Are
    Generally A Bad Idea
    Logic: Cookies, IP, Browser Language

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  50. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Use It This Way Instead

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  51. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X Don’t Make Those Too Big

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  52. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    ✓ Encoded Characters %20
    UTF-8 is fine with Google

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  53. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X Encoded Characters %20
    Not all parts of your tech
    stack may support it

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  54. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X Break

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  55. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    X Noindex
    The pages need to be indexed

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  56. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Troubleshooting
    This is gone, now what?

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  57. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Traditional Site Audit
    Scheduled crawls

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  58. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Constant Crawl + Alerts
    Finds issues faster

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  59. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Regression Tests
    Tests code changes

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  60. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    First Of It’s Kind

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  61. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    Wrong Pages Might Show Even If
    Your Setup Is Right

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  62. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    What Would Patrick Do?
    (WWPD)

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  63. @patrickstox #brightonseo
    I Prefer One Page Per
    Language
    1. Fewer, stronger pages
    2. Dynamic personalization

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  64. @patrickstox #brightonseo

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