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Global SEO Done Right: Automated Tool for Hreflang Tag Management

your hreflang test
Validate hreflang
Automate hreflang
and more!

When should I use hreflang tags?

People search for your business from different countries. And in many cases, you want a specific language version of your page shown for this or that location in search results. Unlike the canonical tag which tells Google what URL to index to avoid duplicates, the hreflang tag signals what localized versions to serve to users from different locations. Not being a Google directive or a ranking signal, hreflang is nevertheless necessary to serve a better user experience. Hreflang implementation is useful for sites selling on international markets targeted in the same language, for example, to differentiate between UK, US or Canada for English, or Portugal or Brazil for Portugese. In another example, you may want to translate your home page into several languages for the same country, like Switerland.
On the bright side hreflangs allows telling Google which versions of your pages suit this or that language and location. On the dark side — hreflang tends to be one of the most complex technical issues!
75% of hreflang implementation had serious errors
If your site is in that 75%:
  • Search engines may fail to serve the right content
  • Users end up on the wrong page
  • International SEO campaign is challenged (uh-oh!)
If you don't want your site in that 75%, you have to:
Choose the proper hreflang implementation method
Generate hreflang
code for each page
(including self-referencing links)
Regularly monitor
and troubleshoot
This hreflang test routine is so much easier when automated. Why not let the new WebSite Auditor hreflang tool do everything for you?

Now WebSite Auditor includes an hreflang tags testing tool that does all you need for going international:

Automate your hreflang audit
With the hreflang tags management feature in WebSite Auditor, rule out any possibility of an error and forget about manual checks forever. How? Download the freshest version of WebSite Auditor or let the tool auto-update. After that, create or rebuild a project and run your hreflang testing:
Hreflang tags audit tool

1. Go to Site Structure > Site Audit and analyze the Localization section. If your pages do not have any hreflang implementations, the whole section will be error-free by default.

2. If you have implemented hreflangs, you can view all unique hreflang values in Language versions and all unique resources with hreflang tags in Pages with hreflang elements.

3. In case you have any errors with hreflang implementation, the tag checker tool will flag such issues with Warning or Error. Click on Error, Warning, or Info button to filter by these factors:

  • Incorrect language codes — shows issues with hreflang syntax: wrong country or language codes (e.g., en-UK instead of en-GB).
  • Invalid URLs — checks for all URLs to be absolute, not relative.
  • Missing return URLs — one of the most common and grave errors. The tool checks for each language version of a page to point to the page itself as well as to other language/region versions of a page. Plus, it is also required that all language/region versions should point to each other in their hreflang attributes.
  • Conflicting hreflang elements — checks for a page language variant to have only one hreflang language attribute assigned (e.g., a page cannot have both "en" and "de" hreflang values).
  • Non-canonical pages with hreflang elements — checks for pages that have both hreflang and canonical elements, which is very confusing for search engines.
  • Missing "x-default" values — checks for pages with hreflang elements but without "x-default" value. This value is not obligatory, but you can consider using it to tell search engines what version to serve for languages and countries not specified in your hreflang attributes.
  • Incomplete hreflang values — checks for pages to have not only region/language-specific hreflang attributes but also a generic URL for users with the same language and unspecified region. For example, you can have specific pages for English-speaking users from Canada (en-ca) and the USA (en-us). In this case, you should also specify a page for all English-speaking users from other countries.
Eager to learn more how to work with hreflang feature? Check out this blog post with deep expertise on localization issues.
Automate your hreflang generation
Hreflangs are usually specified either in an html head section or a sitemap. WebSite Auditor manages both ways of hreflang building:
Implement hreglangs in your XML Sitemap

1. Before you start generating hreflangs, you have to choose the best fitting implementation method. WebSite Auditor allows you to build hreflangs both in sitemaps and html code (the Localization tool):

  • HTML tagging — best for sites with a small number of languages/countries versions.
  • XML sitemap — best for sites with many languages/countries versions. Specifying the code for all such versions in HTML leads extra lines of code and increases the page's loading time. Plus, it's much easier to edit hreflangs in the sitemap than edit all the pages.

Notice that for Google or Yandex serch engines detect hreflang attribute in html or the sitemap. However, Bing uses the "content-language" meta tag to be embedded in the <head> section of the document.

2. For building hreflang tags in html, go to Pages, click the Website Tools button, and select Localization.

  • In the new window, click the Add localization button. You will see a new tab where you can enter a page's URL, corresponding language, and country (if applicable):

  • Make use of filters:

  • Edit existing hreflangs:

  • Save and export a TXT code chunk with hreflang tags for further convenient adding to your pages:

3. Hreflang sitemaps are considered tricky to create. However, it's no sweat with the hreflang sitemap tool in WebSite Auditor. Go to Pages, click the Website Tools button, and select Sitemap. Once you're there, click Set Hreflang > Add localization. In the new window, enter URL, language and country (if applicable).

Once you're done with building and editing, save the updated sitemap to your computer.

New reports to target customers with global businesses
All the audit data on hreflangs is also available in WebSite Auditor's reports. So give your clients the full overview of their hreflang tagging efforts. Win new clients, after showing them all those hreflang audit issues, you are able to tackle for their international SEO.
Report hreflang issues

The Localization audit data won't be added to your reports by default. To see it, you need to create a new report, containing a test for hreflang.

In the Reports section, click the + button and choose the template.

Edit the template by adding those sections you would like to see in it and then click Save. Now your report is equipped with all the data on your localization status.

Get your international SEO work
right with WebSite Auditor.

Remember, it was you who asked us to equip WebSite Auditor with hreflang audit. We always try to be better by listening to your requests. You must be dying to try it out, and you are one click away.