Google has introduced new SEO attributes – rel=”alternate” and hreflang=”x”, for better handling of multi-lingual pages and content. This feature is predominantly for websites, that contain:
- Template (side navigation, footer) which can be machine-translated into various languages.
- Unchanged main content, even with the change in template, leading to increase in duplicate pages and for those sites, that direct users to wrong language pages.
When used in the source code of the files, it should look something like this:
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”a-different-language” href=”http://url-of-the-different-language-page” />
To use the new feature there are two steps:
Step 1: Once the canonical is selected, either rel=”canonical” or a 301 (permanent redirect) from the various localized pages to the canonical URL, can be used.
Step 2: On the canonical URL, the need is to specify the language-specific duplicated content with the different boilerplate via the rel=”alternate” link tag, by using its hreflang attribute. When rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” will be included in conjunction with rel=”canonical” or 301s, Google’s indexing and linking properties will get more accurate. It will also help Google to serve the users, with the URL of their preferred language.
This new solution from Google might not be appropriate for multilingual sites that completely translate the content on each page. This feature can basically improve the situation where the template might be localized but the main content remains as it is, across language/country variants.