If you’ve added multiple languages to your website, it’s integral that you understand what hreflang tag attributes are and how to use them. Why? Because they’re vital for your multilingual SEO.
As a site owner, you’ve likely spent a considerable amount of time perfecting the content of your multi-language website, so ensuring your website is catering to people using search engines in their native language will ultimately improve their user experience and result in a higher number of people discovering your company.
The good news for Weglot users is that we’ve already automatically set up and added hreflang tags to your website – because life is simply too short to mess around with the difficult process of manually adding them yourself…but we’ll explain that later.
And, the reason why you’re probably reading this very article is that we’ve just launched a hreflang tag checker so you can be confident that your tags have been implemented properly. Let’s take a look in more detail at our tool and the concept of hreflang tags in general.
What are hreflang tags?
To put it simply, hreflang tags are HTML attributes in your page source code used to tell Google about pages that are similar in content but targeting different languages. They help determine the language of the page so search engines can serve the best results to its users.
Having a multilingual website means you have webpages with similar content but in different languages. As a website owner, you’ll want to notify search engines about this, so they can send your potential site visitors to content in their native language and, what’s more, not interpret your website as duplicate.
Let’s break it down in real terms. Let’s say I am a French speaker and your website has a page I’m looking for available in both English and French. If I’m using a search engine in my native language, I will naturally only want to see the French version of the page appear in the search results. As a website owner, you want search engines to show that page to your potential customer. If you’ve implemented hreflang tags then you’re in luck! The French page is exactly what will be served. Bingo!
This is an example of what an hreflang tags looks like in the source code of a website:
But, here comes the real stinger, hreflang tags are great, really great – they solve a problem you’ve probably been worrying about. The unfortunate thing is that they are pretty damn hard to implement correctly. It doesn’t exactly give you confidence when you come across a tweet like this from Google’s very own SEO expert, John Mueller…
We won’t weigh you down with the exact process needed to add hreflang annotations because there are literally dozens of hreflang implementation guides out there for you to work out the complexities for yourself. But, let’s just say what might seem like a simple process at first, can quickly turn into a nightmare.
Are my hreflang tags implemented correctly?
So, for those of you who have managed to implement your hreflang tags yourself (hats off to you), it’s most definitely a wise idea to actually check whether you have added them correctly.
Even Weglot users who are in the lucky position of having their hreflang tags added automatically can get peace of mind by checking everything is as correct as it should be.
So, we decided to create our very own hreflang checker tool which shows you in seconds whether you’ve set them up correctly! Let’s check it out.
How does the hreflang checker work?
Simply go to the hreflang checker page, enter the URL of your website, select which search engine you’d like to ensure your hreflang tags are recognized by and then click on ‘Test URL’.
The results will show something like this – depending on how many languages you’ve added to your website.
Here you can see with Weglot’s very own website that everything has been set up correctly.
The green tick means the hreflang tags are implemented properly for the search engine you’ve checked against and the last column ‘error’ is empty, again confirming that hreflang tags have been set up correctly.
The ‘return tag’ column where you can see ‘self-referencing’ against the main Weglot website, is just confirming that this URL is the master copy of your website – e.g. the original version.
The ‘status’ column simply means the HTTP status. Status codes are issued by a server in response to a client’s request made to the server for a specific page. Here the number ‘200’ just means that the server found the page you asked for and delivered it to you! You might know the more famous “404” status, meaning that the server was unable to find the page you asked for.
So, there you have it, using the Weglot hreflang tool is simple and helps you quickly see if there’s a problem with your hreflang tags. Basically, if everything is ticked green then you know your hreflang tags are working and serving the correct pages to your new multilingual website visitors.
Try the tool for yourself and as always, if you have any feedback on our hreflang checker tool reach out to us at email@example.com.