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Localization: The "hreflang" Tag Accross Different Domains

2023-09-18
, most recent update.

Google’s very own John Mueller explains on how to use the hreflang tags across domains for the localization schemas:

It doesn't matter if it's all on one domain or across multiple domains. It should just be one clear place per country and language.

Hreflang annotations look very simple at first, but it is very complicated to set up. “It is something that takes a lot of practice, and people struggle with these hreflang annotations. It's not always easy”, says Google’s very own John Mueller, and who has helped many of us web developer over the years.

In this Video John Mueller explains on how to use the hreflang tags across domains for the localization schemas. To make it short: It doesn't matter if it's all on one domain or across multiple domains. It should just be one clear place per country and language.

  1. On a per-page basis, all of the hreflang annotations must match up.
  2. It doesn’t’ matter if it's on one domain or on multiple domains.
  3. All that matters is if we have a requirement for what we would like to show users, the hreflang annotations guides us to one specific location, and one specific location only.

And that must be very clear for any particular page on each of the websites.

The same goes for the x-default tag. x-default must be set up on both of these sites to point to exactly the same page: Have just one x-default defined across the different TLDs.

So, for example, if someone is in Canada, and comes in to your website from Canada, and we would rank one of these pages in the Search results, it should be clear from the cluster of hreflang annotations that you have, exactly which page would be the optimal one to show.

That's John Mueller’s general guidance there for using different TLD for every language and locale.

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He then goes on to explain a 2nd, more flexible, way—and probably the way most of us do it anyways: Usually you would have multiple countries and languages on one site. The mapping to a page is then one to one for country and language. The per page mapping, "which countries are on that page, or which language is on that page that's up to you."

Here's the vidya; starting at 26:57

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