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International SEO - SMX Munich 2022

International SEO - SMX Munich 2022

My talk "Tomorrow, the world" from SMX Munich 2022 covering 15 tips for taking your SEO international, including content localisation, hreflang implementation and best practices, domain setup, geo targeting options and much more.

Bastian Grimm
PRO

November 07, 2022
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  1. Tomorrow, the world 15 tips for taking your SEO international

    Bastian Grimm, Peak Ace AG | @basgr
  2. Let's start with the most basic question What do you

    want/need?
  3. What do you want/need? Multilingual, multi-regional – or both? multilingual

    e.g., a Swiss business with a German and French website multi-regional e.g., a website that explicitly targets users in different countries … or both e.g., a website might have different versions for DE & CH, and both DE & FR versions of the CH content
  4. Well… that's a shame! But we're here to help. You

    don't know which one you need?
  5. pa.ag @peakaceag 5 How do search engines determine your intended

    audience? You need to give search engines a few hints to let them know which audiences you're catering to. Here are a few pointers to explain this: Credits: https://pa.ag/2CqYwvB Content analysis In which language is the content written – and for which region? e.g., British English is different from American English. TLD hints In using a ccTLD (e.g., .de) search engines assume that you're targeting that country (e.g., Germany). Primary origin of links If a website gets most of its links from a specific ccTLD, it’s likely that it will be associated with the respective market. hreflang annotations Are you using hreflang to communicate which audiences you want to target with which URL? Content‐language attribute Bing, Baidu & others use the content-language HTML attribute for targeting hints instead of hreflang. Google & Bing config Properly configured language and/or geo targeting in GSC as well as geo targeting in Bing WMT. And others This is not a comprehensive list. There are most certainly other signals too. Local/business listings e.g., Google My Business listings and Bing's Places for Business.
  6. pa.ag @peakaceag 6 Google's algorithms can vary An algorithm can

    vary from country to country. The “US algorithms” are often the most advanced, followed by the UK and some EU countries, such as Germany:
  7. Less mature markets usually have higher search volume on generic

    keywords But generic keywords do have higher ambiguity in terms of user intent…
  8. pa.ag @peakaceag 8 30-second recap: What's search intent anyway? Search

    intent is the why behind a search query: why did the person make this search? Are they looking for information, to make a purchase, or for a specific website? Informational Navigational Commercial Transactional ▪ "Jason Statham movies" ▪ "Berlin Paris distance" ▪ "what are carbs" ▪ "peak ace address" ▪ "gmail" ▪ "instagram login" ▪ "Dubai winter temperature" ▪ "haircut near me" ▪ "best webinar software" ▪ "Audi rsq8 price" ▪ "champagne next day delivery" ▪ "BER CDG flights"
  9. pa.ag @peakaceag 9 Google is obsessed with “Intent” The current

    version of their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines mentions “Intent” over 420 times – the “Needs Met” section spans over 30 pages: Source: https://pa.ag/2W1qRCS
  10. pa.ag @peakaceag 10 Machine learning plays a huge role here

    as well Back in 2007, Microsoft published a patent suggesting that 87% of ambiguous queries can be identified and understood with supervised machine learning: Source: https://pa.ag/2XHdZTt We propose a machine learning model based on search results to identify ambiguous queries. The best classifier achieves accuracy as high as 87%. By applying the classifier, we estimate that about 16% queries are ambiguous in the sampled logs.
  11. pa.ag @peakaceag 11 Thanks to recent advances in ML, Google

    has made huge leaps ahead with getting search intent right - and they’re only going to get better at it.
  12. pa.ag @peakaceag 12 Can't get your head around automating at

    scale? Kevin Indig has got you covered! Go check out his two articles on the topic: Source: https://pa.ag/3u41oFj
  13. pa.ag @peakaceag 13 You're late to the party if you

    haven't figured this out yet: It’s of utmost importance right now to get intent mapping right; intent means relevance and therefore better rankings. Get this wrong, and you have no chance of ranking long term.
  14. Proper research is crucial Every customer wants something different. Make

    sure you're delivering the right content to the right people.
  15. Many businesses use a "rinse and repeat" approach But that

    ignores the unique features (e.g., cultural differences, etc.) of each market
  16. pa.ag @peakaceag 16 Updates are usually "global" (unless stated otherwise)

    However, their impact certainly can, and will, vary from country to country. Source: https://pa.ag/328cDRm
  17. pa.ag @peakaceag 17 ICYMI: Google doesn't adapt results according to

    their TLDs The results are localised nowadays, independently of the TLD of the Google. This means that the results would be the same on google.de and google.com in Germany. Source: https://pa.ag/2JMk71d […] the choice of country service will no longer be indicated by domain. Instead, by default, you’ll be served the country service that corresponds to your location. So if you live in Australia, you’ll automatically receive the country service for Australia, but when you travel to New Zealand, your results will switch automatically to the country service for New Zealand.
  18. Some of the most frequent issues and missteps we're seeing

    with international SEO 15 common mistakes in international SEO
  19. pa.ag @peakaceag 19 #1 Not using different URLs for each

    international site Avoid using something like cookies for different versions of a site that use the exact same URL. In this example, only the English version will be indexed for MAERSK:
  20. Each language has unique characteristics, however tech is usually built

    in English first. Sort out special characters
  21. Don't forget about forms – accept them there! Ensure you

    handle them in URLs and file names (e.g., normalise)
  22. pa.ag @peakaceag 22 #2 Missing proper localisation of content, keywords,

    etc. American English vs. British English, terminology, synonyms, colours, national holidays… VS
  23. domain.es/en/ or domain.de/en-gb/ Targeting the UK won't work, because the

    ccTLD is already geotargeted by default. #3 Using a single ccTLD to target multiple countries
  24. pa.ag @peakaceag 24 This shows the French version/SERP of Google,

    but returns all German results for New Yorker… #3 Using a single ccTLD to target multiple countries Fashion brand New Yorker uses the German .de to geo target globally…
  25. pa.ag @peakaceag 25 #4 Automatically redirecting users without giving options

    It's better to just let the user pick the suggested/relevant international website instead. VS
  26. Also: non-self-referencing canonicals can't have hreflang! #5 Canonicalising all versions

    to one to avoid DC
  27. Google doesn't support regional targeting on a continental level. Using

    "eu" in hreflang won't work. #6 Using malformed/invalid values in hreflang
  28. Google needs to (re-) crawl the entire pairing of URLs

    to understand your implementation! +8 of the most common implementation errors (coming up later)! #7 Not understanding how hreflang actually works
  29. Translate all the things!? What if that's not always the

    right approach? Translation vs. localisation vs. transcreation
  30. Transcreation?

  31. pa.ag @peakaceag 31 Translation The process of re-writing a sentence

    in a different language. Converting content "word for word" is technically already translating. This process strives to make the translated text as true to the original as possible. Key characteristics ▪ The language changes, but the words and the message stay the same. ▪ Language is translated and context is only given in editor's notes. Translation vs. localisation vs. transcreation Let's talk some definitions and characteristics, shall we? Localisation When you take translated content and edit it to reflect the culture of the target language, you are localising the content. This is key to online marketing, as user experience and readability, for example, are important factors that heavily impact the content format and length. Key characteristics ▪ The words change, but the meaning behind those words stays the same. ▪ The language is also adapted in a culture-sensitive way. Transcreation Transcreation is possible when the author of the source text (in language A) works together with the author of the translated/localised text (in language B). Both authors work together to tell a story to obtain the same effect in different markets. Key characteristics ▪ The content changes but the business goals stay the same. ▪ The content is developed anew in the local language.
  32. pa.ag @peakaceag 32 Translation vs. localisation vs. transcreation In other

    words… Translation would convert Super Bowl into the German Superschüssel. Transcreation would build a new, country-specific campaign around the ideas of fun and sport. Localisation would contextualise Super Bowl and probably use World Cup instead.
  33. If content is translated literally, it might not make sense

    in the new target market.
  34. The reason that we often localise rather than translate is

    that culture plays a key role in deciding on the tone of voice for a client. Localisation instead of translation
  35. Localisation considers details such as imagery, content visual placement, length

    – and more. Localisation beyond text
  36. pa.ag @peakaceag 36 For global campaigns, language matters a lot!

    On average, German contents needs 10% to 35% more space than its English counter- part? You need to plan for that – e.g. when working with your design team! English ▪ Relevant tips ▪ Employee satisfaction ▪ Sick note ▪ Financial services company German ▪ Sachdienliche Hinweise ▪ Mitarbeiterzufriedenheit ▪ Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung ▪ Finanzdienstleistungsunternehmen
  37. pa.ag @peakaceag 37 To translate or not to translate? Some

    global strategies don't need full adaptation, because keeping the original language adds value for the end-user. Think of all the (unpronounceable) IKEA names. ▪ The world is full of creative examples, especially if we look at major multinational businesses that set the standards of localisation. But the question sometimes is: is localising even worth it? ▪ Sometimes keeping the original language adds value for the end-user, as it adds flair to a product. Just think of all the unpronounceable names at IKEA. ▪ How many memes and jokes have been made around the Swedish company?
  38. pa.ag @peakaceag 38 Translation, localisation - borders sometimes get blurry

    But maybe that doesn't really matter? ▪ The English adaptation of the Haribo slogan maintains the effect of the rhyme and the catchy playfulness of the German version. ▪ If translated back (“Kinder und Erwachsene lieben sie, die fröhliche Welt von Haribo”) the new word choice doesn’t convey the original slogan word for word. ▪ So, what makes a message stronger? An exact translation or a localisation of the slogan?
  39. pa.ag @peakaceag 39 What's your favourite team? Localisation and transcreation

    affect images just as much as the written content: An example I use a lot is the cover of FIFA, the video game. On the German cover there are players from German teams (say, Neuer for example) whereas on the Brazilian cover there are players from other teams.” Irene Morcilo San Jose, Peak Ace AG ▪ FIFA adopts a flexible approach where there's always one global game cover alongside the regional ones. ▪ Whether or not a global or regional cover is used in a market depends on internal research. A player like Lionel Messi, featured for 5 consecutive years, is well known in more than one country and doesn't need to be “localised”.
  40. pa.ag @peakaceag 40 At Peak Ace, we speak 20+ languages

    But why do we speak so many? If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart. Nelson Mandela
  41. And it gets even worse: localisation even exists (and certainly

    make sense) within single-language markets The importance of localisation cannot be stressed enough
  42. None
  43. This kind of content speaks to them, catches their eye

    and ultimately “sounds” better than anything else. The end user is much more likely to respond to content that fits their culture
  44. pa.ag @peakaceag 44 A shoe to remember – or how

    to insult a whole country In 2011, Puma released a global marketing strategy that used the flag colours of each nation to honour diversity. Source: https://pa.ag/3MswEGX Someone at Puma clearly forgot to do their due research, as they showed a significant lack of cultural understanding in the United Arab Emirates. ▪ In UAE, anything associated with feet and the floor is considered dirty. ▪ UAE nationals were therefore not pleased to have their national flag turned into shoes.
  45. pa.ag @peakaceag 45 Translate, localise or transcreate – categorising the

    three: One could go as far as to categorise potential tasks as follows: Translation Localisation Transcreation Useful for technical content: manuals, safety warnings, legal or medical documents, etc. Useful for global online marketing in general, international SEO, UX elements, visuals etc. Useful for global campaign ideation and concepts, ad copy, global processes, etc. Focus on the source, technical knowledge required Balance between source & target language, technical knowledge with language support required Focus on the target language, deep knowledge of the new market culture & creative brief required Note: This is only a generic categorisation. You should evaluate which skillsets you need on a project-by-project basis.
  46. pa.ag @peakaceag 46 A practical example All methods in comparison:

    Source: Deutsche Welle Here's an excerpt from a Deutsche Welle article, published in Autumn 2021 for the German audience. Je kälter es draußen wird, desto mehr halten wir uns normalerweise drinnen auf. Und damit kann sich das Corona-Virus in geschlossenen Räumen wieder besser verbreiten. Laut Robert-Koch-Institut (RKI) war die Sieben-Tage-Inzidenz am Wochenende erstmals wieder dreistellig und stieg zu Wochenbeginn auf 110,1 Neuansteckungen je 100.000 Einwohner. Vor einer Woche hatte die Inzidenz noch 74,4 betragen.”
  47. pa.ag @peakaceag 47 How could you adapt the excerpt? Market

    Translation Localisation Transcreation UK The colder it gets outside, the more we usually stay indoors; and the more time we spend indoors, the more easily Corona Virus can spread. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) the seven-day incidence was in triple figures this weekend and rose to 110.1 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants at the beginning of the week. Just a week before, the incidence had been 74.4. The colder it gets outside, the more we usually stay indoors; and the more time we spend indoors, the more easily COVID can spread. This is certainly something that has been seen in Germany. According to the German health authority, the Robert Koch Institute, the seven-day incidence was in triple figures this weekend and rose to 110.1 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants at the beginning of the week. Just a week before, the incidence had been 74.4. In England, however, rates have remained lower at 19.7 in spite of fears of the Delta Variant (or, as it was known in Germany, the British Variant) of the Corona Virus spreading across the channel. The colder it gets outside, the more we usually stay indoors; and the more time we spend indoors, the more easily COVID can spread. The UK is no exception to this. According to the UK government, the case rate rose to 56,000 new infections at the weekend. Just a week before, cases had been stable at 36,000. A clear increase in cases is here along with the colder weather. US The colder it gets outside, the more we usually stay indoors; and the more time we spend indoors, the more easily Corona Virus can spread. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) the seven-day incidence was in triple figures this weekend and rose to 110.1 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants at the beginning of the week. Just a week before, the incidence had been 74.4. The colder it gets outside, the more we usually stay indoors; and the more time we spend indoors, the more easily the Coronavirus can spread. This is certainly something that has been seen in Europe. According to the German health authority, the Robert Koch Institute, the seven-day incidence in Germany was in triple figures this weekend and rose to 110.1 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants at the beginning of the week. Just a week before, the incidence had been 74.4. In the USA, however, rates have remained at the lowest they’ve been since July, with only moderate increases in recent days. The colder it gets outside, the more we usually stay indoors; and the more time we spend indoors, the more easily the Coronavirus can spread. The United States is no exception to this. According to the CDC, the 7 Day Average Moving Case Rate has risen by 10,000 cases since the beginning of November. However, this is still 80,000 less than what we saw at the height of summer 2021. Whether we will reach the same all-time high of 202,000 that we saw in January 2021 this winter therefore remains to be seen. UK: COVID vs. US: Coronavirus UK would talk about the „Delta variant“ as this started to rise throughout Europe, US would talk about general infection rates being low.
  48. Some of the most common issues around domain usage and

    structure as well as geo-redirects Domains & Redirects
  49. pa.ag @peakaceag 50 Domain basics: gTLD vs. ccTLD There are

    two versions of top-level domains: generic TLDs (gTLD) and country code TLDs (ccTLD); ccTLDs have a fixed geo target (i.e., de = Germany). gTLD ccTLD .com .de .net .fr .org .co.uk Here are some of the most common domain setup options from an SEO point of view: ▪ multiple ccTLDs ▪ gTLDs in combination with subdomains ▪ gTLDs in combination with subfolders ▪ gTLDs with a combination of subdomains and subfolders Example: peakace.de + peakace.fr Example: de.peakace.com Example: peakace.com/fr/ Example: es.peakace.com/es-mx/
  50. New TLDs are treated the same way as gTLDs. Nevertheless,

    there are some interesting differences once you look a bit closer. Some exceptions to the rule (of course…)
  51. Although these domains are associated with a geographic region, they

    are treated as gTLD (much like .com). This is currently true for: .eu & .asia How does Google treat generic regional top-level domains?
  52. Google treats some ccTLDs as gTLDs. This is currently true

    for .io (British Indian Ocean Territory), .cc, .co, .dj (Djibouti), .fm, .io, .la, .me (Montenegro), .ms, .tv, .tk, .ws and some others. Why do .io domains rank globally even though they're a ccTLD?
  53. .brand TLDs are treated the same as any other gTLD.

    Will a .brand TLD be given any more or less weight than a .com?
  54. Even if they look region-specific, Google treats them as other

    gTLDs. How are the new region city TLDs (like .berlin) handled?
  55. pa.ag @peakaceag 56 Peak Ace usually recommends one of two

    variants: One strong global gTLD for all languages or separate (cc)TLDs for every country. Variant Example Comments Separate domains for every country (either ccTLDs only, or a mix of both) amazon.com amazon.co.uk amazon.de ▪ Each domain is managed separately ▪ More difficult to establish a brand in new markets (starting from zero) ▪ Strong geotargeting signal for Google (for ccTLDs), GSC possible for gTLDs ▪ Often not possible for every market (domain availability) Multiple subdomains under a single global domain (gTLD) en.wikipedia.org es.wikipedia.org de.wikipedia.org fr.wikipedia.org ▪ Medium effort to set up and manage ▪ Subdomains will be treated separately by Google ▪ No benefit from domain authority ▪ Not great for CTR Subfolders on a single global domain (gTLD) netflix.com/de netflix.com/mx netflix.com/it ▪ Easier to expand to new markets ▪ Massive benefit from domain authority / external links ▪ Depending on CMS, easy to set up and manage ▪ Violating Google's guidelines could impact all versions (very rarely though) URL parameters instagram.com/?hl=en instagram.com/?hl=de instagram.com/?hl=es ▪ Geotargeting in GSC is not possible ▪ Google doesn't recommend it
  56. Those domains have default targeting which can't be “overruled“ through,

    e.g., Google Search Console You can't do geotargeting for ccTLDs
  57. pa.ag @peakaceag 58 You can't override GSC ccTLD country geotargeting

    Google will associate this .fr domain with France – it's not possible to change it.
  58. pa.ag @peakaceag 59 For gTLDs you can select a country

    targeting of choice Google will not have a default targeting enabled for this .eu domain – so they will use others signals until you provide the info:
  59. pa.ag @peakaceag 60 For gTLDs you can (& should!) also

    geotarget sub-folders It is possible to connect a (new) GSC property to a specific country folder on your gTLD. Of course, this needs to be done once per individual folder:
  60. Keep in mind, GSC settings are obviously only specifically available

    for Google We are talking Google-only!
  61. pa.ag @peakaceag 62 Geo redirects how-to (e.g., if you need

    to license) If the user is guided to a special language folder based on their IP , the redirect needs to be temporary (302 or 307), otherwise caching issues will come up.
  62. pa.ag @peakaceag 63 Geo redirects gone wrong (= don't do

    it!) Keep in mind: Google crawls primarily from IP addresses in the US. Source: https://pa.ag/3foCesW […] The client’s website didn’t have a section for the US, so instead all traffic from the US was redirected to a landing page explaining that their service was not available in the US. So that page was the only page that Google ever saw. […] All the other pages on domain.com were basically invisible to Google. domain.com domain.com/gb domain.com/fr domain.com/de redirect redirect redirect
  63. pa.ag @peakaceag 64 Don't do this, either… Disney wastes loads

    of link equity by relying on JS-redirects:
  64. pa.ag @peakaceag 65 Implement smart geo-selection possibilities Most importantly, don't

    force your users in a specific direction – leave them with the option to stay where they are, or navigate freely:
  65. Let Google know about localised versions hreflang & Geo Targeting

  66. pa.ag @peakaceag 67 hreflang intro: What does it look like?

    Language (required): ISO 639-1, country (optional): ISO 3166-1 By using hreflang attributes, you can target all English-speaking users (hreflang=“en”), but of course, if you have a dedicated version for English-speaking people living in Canada, you can target them by using hreflang “en-ca”. i <link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/ca" hreflang="en-ca"/> An example of hreflang attribute Language required Country Not required
  67. pa.ag @peakaceag 68 Use hreflang to let Google know about

    localised versions If you have multiple versions of a page for different languages or regions, let Google know about the variants: ▪ Each language version must list itself as well as other language versions ▪ If two pages don't both point to each other, the tags will be ignored! ▪ Alternate URLs must be fully-qualified ▪ e.g., do not forget the correct protocols (http/https) ▪ Implement a language as well as a country code to target various languages in one country (e.g., “fr-ch” & “de-ch”) ▪ Consider adding an x-default fallback for other unmatched versions ▪ <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/" hreflang="x-default" />
  68. pa.ag @peakaceag 69 Note: Not all search engines support hreflang

    Search Engine HTML HTTP Headers Sitemaps Alternatives * * * * * You have to use a HTML Meta Language tag.
  69. pa.ag @peakaceag 70 There are three different implementation options available

    Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so it's a matter of choosing what is best for you and your setup: HTML Vulnerable to errors when using many different TLDs Changes made to HTML code can lead to errors in parsing/processing Straightforward implementation in <head> XML sitemap Allows implementation of changes quickly (centralised) Controllable- & CMS- independent setup Initial setup is slightly more complex than other methods - - - + Server header Complex implementation (server config) Non-HTML files (PDFs) can be integrated High maintenance effort (server config) - - + + +
  70. pa.ag @peakaceag 71 hreflang annotations within the HTML <head> Straightforward

    to implement and easy to maintain, provided you don't have too many setup/parings and that they don’t get too complex! Examples: <link rel="alternate" hreflang="de-AT" href="https://www.domain.at/series/example-page.html"/> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="https://www.domain.de/series/example-page.html"/> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-GB" href="https://www.domain.co.uk/series/example-page.html"/> Disadvantages: ▪ Code bloat: We do not recommend implementing hreflang annotations for >10 in HTML <head>. There is a risk that the code will bloat, which is especially bad for slower mobile connections. ▪ Maintenance: Consistently timed updates for each individual website are needed, otherwise hreflang pairings will be broken and can’t work. ▪ A slow recrawling of URLs at a deeper page level often causes pairings to be broken for longer.
  71. pa.ag @peakaceag 72 hreflang annotations as server headers hreflang annotations

    can also be implemented using server headers, but it's harder to both monitor and maintain. However, it pays off for non-HTML such as PDFs, etc. Examples: Link: <https://www.domain.at/series/example-page.html>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="de-AT" Link: <https://www.domain.de/series/example-page.html>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="de" Link: <https://www.domain.co.uk/series/example-page.html>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="en-GB" Disadvantages: ▪ It is more difficult to monitor changes and errors, due to annotations being "invisible" to the end user ▪ The implementation is very complex, and the effort is high maintenance, because directives need to be applied on server level, e.g., using Apache .htaccess / nginx conf (which often requires dev ops to be involved)
  72. pa.ag @peakaceag 73 XML sitemap (on a centralised server) The

    most practical solution for large-scale setups would be to implement hreflang via XML sitemaps: Example: sitemap AT <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9" xmlns:xhtml="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <url> <loc>https://www.domain.at/series/example-page.html</loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-GB" href="https://www.domain.co.uk/series/example-page.html"/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="de-CH" href="https://www.domain.ch/series/example-page.html"/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="https://www.domain.de/series/example-page.html"/> Advantages of such a setup: ▪ No impact on actual website code/size, meaning there is no impact on web performance ▪ Entirely independent from individual websites, can be setup, run and maintained by a dedicated team ▪ Overall, it is easier to implement and update whilst allowing for faster refresh frequency than individual HTML pages (this means that pairings are usually always intact)
  73. pa.ag @peakaceag 74 Further advantages of a stand-alone sitemap server

    setup No impact on actual web infrastructure: Generating massive sitemaps with millions of URLs won't affect servers responsible for delivering the website: Sitemap server DE robots.txt UK robots.txt FR robots.txt Each TLD robots.txt file points to their sitemap on the sitemap server
  74. pa.ag @peakaceag 75 Make or buy? Tool recommendation: HREFLang Builder

    gives you everything you need, and at a very reasonable price. This makes it a serious alternative to building a custom solution – I am a huge fan! Source: https://www.hreflangbuilder.com/ Features ▪ Localised URL mapping ▪ Complex URL mapping ▪ XML file hosting ▪ Error checking ▪ Automated updates ▪ Missing page identification ▪ Generating XML sitemaps
  75. pa.ag @peakaceag 76 Use the x-default tag for unmatched languages

    The x-default specifies where a user should be sent in the case none of the specified languages in your other hreflang links match the browser settings. Source: https://pa.ag/2W9WGpO Sometimes the x-default has been included by accident and the page is not a suitable fallback for the rest of the world. English is a good language to use as your fallback option, since so many people speak it, whereas German is not always a great choice (or only works for the DACH region), since fewer people speak it globally. i The website has content that 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 this case you can annotate this cluster of pages using HTML like this: <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-gb" hreflang="en-gb" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-us" hreflang="en-us" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-au" hreflang="en-au" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/" hreflang="x-default" />
  76. pa.ag @peakaceag 77 There is an endless number of things

    that can go wrong Sitebulb will check these issues against your hreflang implementation: Source: https://pa.ag/3KmVdDi ▪ Has invalid incoming hreflang annotations ▪ Has invalid outgoing hreflang annotations ▪ Has outgoing hreflang annotations to noindex URLs ▪ Noindex URL has incoming hreflang ▪ Has outgoing hreflang annotations to broken URLs ▪ Has outgoing hreflang annotations to canonicalised URLs ▪ Canonicalised URL has incoming hreflang ▪ Has outgoing hreflang annotations to disallowed URLs ▪ Disallowed URL has incoming hreflang ▪ Has conflicting incoming hreflang annotations ▪ Has conflicting outgoing hreflang annotations ▪ Has multiple self-referencing hreflang annotations ▪ Has outgoing hreflang annotation to multiple URLs ▪ Has outgoing hreflang annotations using relative URLs ▪ Invalid HTML lang attribute ▪ Mismatched hreflang and HTML lang declarations ▪ Missing hreflang annotations ▪ Missing reciprocal hreflang (no return-tag) ▪ Has outgoing hreflang annotations to redirecting URLs ▪ Has unsupported or misconfigured hreflang ▪ Has hreflang annotations using multiple methods ▪ Missing canonical URL ▪ Missing HTML lang attribute ▪ Has hreflang annotations without HTML lang ▪ Hreflang annotation also x-default ▪ Missing self-reference hreflang annotation
  77. pa.ag @peakaceag 78 You can't geo-target "EU" in hreflang Regions

    such as Asia, MENA, etc, are not supported by Google. Source: https://pa.ag/3fHjoxn
  78. pa.ag @peakaceag 79 There are a lot of false friends…

    hreflang attribute What you think it is What it actually is es-pa Spanish in Paraguay Spanish in Panama kr-kr Korean in Korea Kanuri in Korea cz-cz Czech in Czech Republic – cr-cr Croatian in Croatia Cree in Costa Rica EN-IR English in Ireland English in Iraq fr-Mo French in Monaco French in Macau ne-NE Nepali in Nepal Nepali in Niger It doesn't really matter whether you use uppercase or lowercase for the hreflang attribute value. It might make it easier to read – but for Google, it's all the same. i
  79. pa.ag @peakaceag 80 (Simple) hreflang generators Generators can help show

    you what the different country codes should look like. Pay attention to the fact that tags must be implemented reciprocally for each URL. Source: https://www.sistrix.de/hreflang-guide/hreflang-generator/ & https://www.aleydasolis.com/english/international-seo-tools/hreflang-tags-generator/
  80. pa.ag @peakaceag 81 hreflang validation When analysing hreflang codes without

    access to Google Search Console, free validation tools can help detect syntax errors. Source: https://technicalseo.com/seo-tools/hreflang/ & http://flang.dejanseo.com.au/
  81. pa.ag @peakaceag 82 Browser add-ons for quick checks Source: https://pa.ag/3HtgnxH

  82. pa.ag @peakaceag 83 hreflang error monitoring in Google Search Console

    The GSC section for error monitoring should be checked continuously. hreflang is complex enough without errors; incorrect implementation makes it even worse.
  83. pa.ag @peakaceag 84 If you're using them: hreflang & mobile

    subdomains Using mobile subdomains means that the hreflang must be implemented in the same way as it is for desktop: reciprocally and 1 to 1. Desktop English Desktop French Desktop German Mobile English Mobile French Mobile German alternate media rel=canonical hreflang hreflang hreflang hreflang hreflang hreflang alternate media rel=canonical alternate media rel=canonical
  84. pa.ag @peakaceag 85 However, hreflang can (and sometimes will) be

    ignored If Google receives "unusual" elements within the <head> (i.e., syntax, which is not anticipated for the <head> section), it will ignore everything below this section.
  85. pa.ag @peakaceag 86 No development resources available? Consider implementing hreflang

    without actually touching your website by using Cloudflare Workers: Source: https://pa.ag/3frUZfg
  86. pa.ag @peakaceag 87 Back in Sep. 2017, Cloudflare introduced their

    "Workers" These ultimately became publicly available in March 2018: Source: https://blog.cloudflare.com/introducing-cloudflare-workers/
  87. pa.ag @peakaceag 88 Using a CDN, all requests will pass

    through “edge servers“ When we ignore DNS, databases etc for a minute, this is what it would look like: First request, ever. peakace.js is not cached on edge server yet Origin server Request: peakace.js Request: peakace.js peakace.js delivered from origin server Response: peakace.js peakace.js gets cached on edge server
  88. pa.ag @peakaceag 89 Using a CDN, all requests will pass

    through “edge servers“ When we ignore DNS, databases etc for a minute, this is what it would look like: Origin server Request: peakace.js peakace.js delivered from edge server peakace.js is cached on edge server Second request (independent of user)
  89. Intercept and modify HTTP request and response URLs, status, headers,

    and HTML mark-up. Seriously though, this is WILD!
  90. pa.ag @peakaceag 91 hreflang annotations on the edge using server

    headers Tell Google about localised versions of your page – of course both ways (HTML or HTTP headers) work just fine:
  91. pa.ag @peakaceag 92 To finish off: My personal top-8 errors/mistakes

    If something seems off, these are the areas we always check first: You are too impatient: Google needs to (re-) crawl the entire pairing of URLs to understand your implementation Non-existent hreflang values: they need to be in ISO 639-1 for language & (optionally) ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 for region Irrelevant hreflang mapping: e.g., "de-DE" has been mapped to an English URL Non-existent URLs: broken/mal-formatted URLs, missing protocols, destination returns 4xx/5xx, etc. Only using the country code: you can target a language on its own, but you can't target a country without a language (e.g., hreflang=“GB” doesn’t work!) Canonicalised elsewhere: an hreflang tag pointing to an URL that's canonicalising (or redirecting) elsewhere No-return hreflang tag: missing the actual hreflang tag pointing back to the origin Missing self-referencing hreflang tag: this is often overlooked, especially in larger hreflang groups
  92. Care for the slides? Any questions? [email protected] Take your career

    to the next level: jobs.pa.ag www.pa.ag twitter.com/peakaceag facebook.com/peakaceag Bastian Grimm https://pa.ag/smxm22 [email protected]