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International Targeting

What is international targeting?

If you manage one or more websites designed for users in a specific country speaking a specific language, you want to make sure that search results display the relevant language and country version of your pages. To ensure that your content reaches the correct audience, you will use two general mechanisms:

  • URL-level targeting
    You can use three implementation mechanisms for this:
    1. Page-level markup  
      Use the <link rel="alternate" hreflang="x" href="alternateURL"> tag in the <head> section of your pages to list alternate language versions for each page.  Each page should provide an hreflang tag that links to all other language variants of itself, as well as a tag that refers back to itself.  For more granular targeting, you can use the hreflang attribute to indicate language and country combinations (e.g. en-ie, en-ca, en-us). Read more about the hreflang tag in our Content guidelines section.  
    2. Sitemaps
      You can use sitemaps to submit language and regional alternates for your pages.  Read more about using a sitemap to indicate alternate language pages in our Content guidelines section.
    3. HTTP headers
      If you publish non-HTML files (like PDFs), you can use an HTTP header to indicate a different language version of a URL. 
  • Site-wide targeting
    In addition making sure your site URLs map to alternate language variants, you will also likely use geographic-specific domains or configure your entire site structure to deliver content to a specific geographic and language preference.  To learn more, read the best practices as explained in Multi-regional and multilingual sites in our Content guidelines.

 

Once you have configured multi-language or multi-regional sites and pages, you can use two sections in the International targeting pages to keep your international presence healthy:
  1. The Language section—this helps you ensure your hreflang tags use the correct locale codes (language and optional country).  More commonly, you can make sure that alternate pages have tags that link back to the pages for your site.  
  2. The Country section—you can use this tool to set a site-wide country target for your entire site, if necessary.
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