We cannot deliver all the languages spoken on the world. So, what does Google view when your website does not have a language that suits your browser settings?
In such instances, it is advised to use hreflang=”xdefault.” This technique would inform browsers and search engines whether there is a global edition of the site or which website language should be presented by default.
hreflang=” xdefault” It can also be used to inform browsers and search engines to show users a page where they can pick the language they want to use.
Three common hreflang mistakes you need to avoid
Missing Return Links:
If you have a page that has a hreflang pointing to an alternative language, but the linked page does not point back to it, you have a “return tag mistake.” According to Google, “Annotations must be checked from the pages to which they point. If page A links to page B, page B must refer back to page A, or the annotations can not be properly interpreted.”
Using the Google Search Console to verify whether you have a “return tag error” that can be found in the International Targeting page. You’ll be able to see when and when the mistake has been found by Google, and where the return link should point.
If you find an error of this sort, edit the Alternative URL page code and add the hreflang tag that connects back to the original default URL.
Bear in mind that if your hreflang tags connect to non-index sites, it will be identified as an error by Google. The explanation is that Google cannot follow the link back from the blocked page to the original page.
Using Incorrect Country or Language Codes:
One problem that seems straightforward but also creates bugs is the incorrect use of hreflang values. You ought to make confident that the country codes or the language codes you use are right. To do this, use the language code in the ISO 639-1 format, such as “en,” “es,” “jp,” or use a combination of the language code and the country code in the ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format. Some examples of these are “es-VE,” “nl-BE” or “pt-BR.” The use of only the country code is not allowed.
One of the most frequent errors is the use of hreflang=”en-UK” instead of hreflang=”en-GB.” This tag is used by English speakers in the United Kingdom. It’s still a smart idea to double-check before applying the hreflang tags.
Mixing Hreflang Sitemaps and Page Tagging methods:
You don’t need to use hreflang on the XML sitemap and on the pages. It is advised that you stick with one of them. This will eliminate any misunderstanding with Google when considering the hreflang marks. Choose from one of the three potential places to enforce the hreflang: a web markup, an HTTP header or a sitemap.