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Hreflang tags case study. 7% increase of indexability


Oct 11, 2019
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Hreflang tags case study. 7% increase of indexability

Hreflangs implementation can become complex when working with a high number of languages and countries. The best way to handle this task is to learn from the experience of similar websites. This case walks you through monitoring and troubleshooting hreflangs on enterprise-level platform with 1,5 mln pages and 2,5+ monthly visits.

What’s inside

  • A little bit of theory
  • Tips for getting the most out of hreflang analysis
  • Key takeaways

A little bit of theory

Hreflangs lets Googlebot know that a website has a few versions of the content for different languages, or languages and regions, to enable them to return the appropriate version to people under search.Hreflangs lets Googlebot know that a website has a few versions of the content for different languages, or languages and regions, to enable them to return the appropriate version to people under search.Hreflangs lets Googlebot know that a website has a few versions of the content for different languages, or languages and regions, to enable them to return the appropriate version to people under search.

Image source: Perficient Digital - The complete guide to hreflang

Hreflangs implementation can become complex when working with a high number of languages and countries. The best way to handle this task is to learn from the experience of similar websites.

What was done

1. We crawled the whole website to get the full picture of technical issues. We always insist on conducting the comprehensive audit instead of partial crawling and here is why.

2. We opened Crawl Report - Indexation - Rel tags and clicked on Pages with rel=hreflang to get to the list of concrete multilingual URLs:

3. In Datatable we chose additional filters one by one to find bugs on pages with hreflangs:

Hreflang has relative URLs filter showed pages in HTML of which were not-complete URLs paths to alternative versions.

Source: Google’s guidelines

Hreflang has non 200 URLs filter showed pages in section of which there were links to pages with harmful 4XX-5XX Status Codes

Hreflang has non indexable URLs filter showed pages in section of which there were links to blocked URLs.

4. The list of pages with each bug was downloaded to implement all the needed fixes:

Tech team rewrote absolute paths to alternative language versions instead of relative URLs, fixed bad Status Codes, explored non-indexable pages and then eliminated links to unprofitable pages and removed blocks on profitable content. The result of these actions is positively impressive:the number of indexed pages has increased by 7% after 2 weeks and it keeps increasing.

Key takeaway

Hreflang annotations, to ґmake it easier to Google to show your pages to the right audience. However, hreflang implementation can become complex when working with a big website and a high number of languages or/and regions. Here are the most common errors on pages with hreflangs:

  • Relative URLs in hreflangs
  • Links to pages that return non 200 OK response
  • Links to non-indexable content in a different language

It’s a good practice to use a web crawler to identify any potential errors, and verifying the existence of the correct hreflang annotations in every relevant page.

Get more useful info: Sitemap as a True Damager

About the author:

Ann Yaroshenko is a Content Marketing Strategist at JetOctopus сrawler. She has Master’s diploma in publishing and editing and Master’s diploma in philology. Ann has two years experience in Human Resources Management. Ann is a part of JetOctopus team since 2018.
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