When taking a website international, one of the most important technical SEO elements to get right is the Hreflang tag. When you add into this process the unique challenges of managing an e-commerce website such as seasonal changes of products and stock availability this process can increase in complexity. At this month’s BrightonSEO I’ll be covering this in more detail but here’s a teaser of what I’ll be talking about.

Why are Hreflang tags so important?

Hreflang tags help search engines understand which version of your content to show to which audience.

Google has been moving away from relying on ccTLDs as the main indicator of location. Instead it is making decisions on serving content, based on user settings of location and language, thus increasing the importance of the Hreflang tag.

Anyone who has taken a well-established brand international will have tales of the original high authority site appearing in the search results in their new international market.

What are the most common issues with Hreflang tags?

Over the years we’ve reviewed thousands of Hreflang tags, and time and again we’ve seen the same types of errors occurring. Hopefully, after reading this you’ll know what to avoid.

Incorrect codes

One of the most common issues is the use of made up language or country codes. Often, the official codes are different for the language and the country, so your tags are different.

Good examples of this include:

  • Swedish – not SE-SE but SV-SE. SV standing for Svenska, the name of the Swedish language
  • Japanese – not JP-JP but JA-JP for Japanese
  • The UK – The official country code for the UK is GB not UK so the correct code

Read more from our friends at Search Engine Watch