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International Targeting

Language targeting

Monitor hreflang tags across your sites

The Language section of the International Targeting page provides a bird's eye view on errors from hreflang links throughout your site. When you set up hreflang tags, Google finds them on your site and eventually crawls the corresponding URLs referred to by the tags, reporting errors on the originating pages and missing return links on the destination pages once they are crawled. This helps you maintain a healthy international presence so that search results for your visitors display the language and country variant you want them to see. For example, if you manage three international sites and you want to monitor errors for the Spanish site, you'd choose the Spanish version from the site selector (e.g. www.example.es) to see all language variants for that site with return errors.

This page displays two common errors in multi-regional sites:

  • Missing return tags from alternate language codes
    For every language code and alternate URL you indicate with an hreflang tag, Google ensures that the alternate page has a return tag that links back to the page on your site.
  • Unknown language codes
    Google shows when you use an incorrect or unknown language code in your hreflang attributes.

The report graph

You can mouse over the lines in the graph to see the total hreflang tags Google found on the selected site (blue line) and the number of hreflang tags that suffer from errors (red line).

No return tags

This error is the most common error for international sites. For each language code you provide, the table lists a total count of alternate pages that have no return tag linking back to the selected site. The table aggregates missing return tag by implementation and locale:

  • Page-level -- the total number of hreflang errors by language in the <head> section of your pages.
  • Sitemap -- the total number of hreflang errors found in your sitemap.
  • HTTP headers -- the total number of hreflang errors for alternate files provided in your HTTP header configuration.

You can click on an error to inspect details for that locale.  For page-level tags, the detail report shows a maximum of 1,000 URLs on your site, paired with the alternate-language page that's missing a return tag to its mate.  For sitemap details, the report lists the sitemap that indicates the URL pairing and the alternate URL that has no return link.  For HTTP headers, the detail page indicates the configuration and alternate URL with no return link. As with page-level errors, the detail page shows a maximum of 1,000 URLs with missing return tags.

Unknown language code

For unknown language (and optional country) codes that you have indicated in your site, the table displays the locale followed by unknown language code.  As with the no return tag error, you can drill down to see URL-level details and total counts of unknown language codes for that specific locale. 

 

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