Rel-Alternate-Hreflang Annotations: Common Issues To Pay Attention To

Depending on your business, products/services, you may want to serve different content to people from different countries, talking different languages. If you have multilingual and multinational websites, i.e. websites in different languages and on different domains/subdomains/folders, that’s the thing you should consider. The easiest way to provide the search engines information about your content targets is using hreflang annotations (for Google and Yandex, for Bing – scroll down).

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="x" href="example.com" />

Using rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” annotations is very useful, however you need to set up them properly. Here are some common issues with hreflang annotations that I have noticed.

1. WRONG LANGUAGE/COUNTRY CODES

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-UK" href="example.com" />

Google and Yandex both recommend using the language code in ISO 639-1 format and if you need to specify the country code, use the ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format.

The most common issue with these codes is using “en-UK” for website’s English language version for UK. If you check the ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 codes, you will find that it should be GB (Great Britain) and not UK (United Kingdom), so the corect language-country code for this is “en-GB“.

It is easy to avoid such issues just by double checking the language and region codes in Wikipedia.

2. UNNECESSARY REGIONAL CODES

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="es-ES" href="example.com" />

Not every website is multinational. Your website may have content in different languages which doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to specify country codes. For example, your web page is in Spanish and does not target any specific country, but you may see the hreflang value as “es_ES” which means your targeting is Spain. This is a wrong configuration and in most cases it happens as a result of using plugins (like translation or maybe SEO).

To avoid this situation, first you need to clarify your site’s targets. Just ask yourself if your website is for a specific country or for a list of countries. Then go ahead and add country codes (in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format). But if your answer is no and your content is same in different languages for anyone and anywhere, only use the language codes. Make sure to double check the codes in your web pages source code to avoid automatically generated wrong hreflang values.

3. One page = One Country

There are cases when people target a single page for several countries. You can see this kind of hreflang annotations:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-GB" href="example.com/en" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-NZ" href="example.com/en" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-RU" href="example.com/en" />
... and so on ...
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-US" href="example.com/en" />

This is not correct. If you want to target your website for every region (i.e. not for a specific country) in a specific language, just specify the language only: hreflang=”en”

If you want to target each country separately for each language, you need to create a separate page for each of them and use the corresponding language-country codes. For example:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-GB" href="example.com/en-gb" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-US" href="example.com/en-us" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-RU" href="example.com/en-ru" />

However, there should be a reason for making it so. You may want to have a separate page for each country if you, for example, have a local phone number or an address, or if the content differs slightly from region to region.

If you made this to affect your sites organic visibility in separate countries, you better don’t. Because it will not help and you will end up having a bunch of errors in your webmaster tools international targeting report.

4. Missing out the page itself

In many cases I notice that a lot of websites do not include the page itself in hreflang annotations.

For example, if you have a website (example.com) in 3 languages (en, es, jp), your JP page needs to have the hreflang=”jp” tag in addition to hreflang=”en” and hreflang=”es” tags.

3 languages = 3 rel=”alternate hreflang=”x” tags on each page: you should always include the language tag to the page itself and the code snippet on your site should look like the below codes for every page:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="example.com/en" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="example.com/es" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="jp" href="example.com/jp" />

5. Hreflang Annotations & Canonical – Targeting wrong pages

Your hreflang=”x” tags should include the URL versions that are the canonical ones. For example:

webpage URL: example.com/en/
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="example.com/en" />
<link rel="canonical" href="example.com/en/index.php" />

The correct option is to keep it consistent: a single URL structure and canonical and hreflang tags matching to it.

webpage URL: example.com/en/
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="example.com/en/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="example.com/en/" />

6. Missing Return Tags

As Google states:

If page A links to page B, page B must link back to page A. If this is not the case for all pages that use hreflang annotations, those annotations may be ignored or not interpreted correctly.

If you have a hreflang=”jp” href=”example.jp” on your example.es page, then your example.jp page must have the hreflang=”es” href=”example.es” tag as well.

You can check your webmaster tools international targeting report for such errors and correct them to avoind your link=”alternate” hreflang=”x” tags being ignored.

These are the most common issues I have noticed and hope it will help you better organize your hreflang annotations and avoid errors.

Bing does not support the hreflang annotations. Instead, it uses language meta tags, for example:

<meta http-equiv=”content-language” content="en-GB">

If you experience any other issues regarding hreflangs feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll be glad to analyze and help you.

New Blocked Resources Report in Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools now has a new cool report showing the blocked content used across the whole website. Here is the new report URL: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/roboted

The report includes the files you might have unintentionally blocked from crawling, for example some images, css or javascript files, or there may be resources loaded externally.

Here’s a screenshot of the report for one of our client’s websites, which shows that there are quite a lot of blocked content:

The blocked resources report shows the hosts and the number of blocked resources on them. When you select a host, the report lists the blocked resources and the number of pages affected.

From the list you can select a resource and check out the affected pages. This can you help find out the issues you might have missed so far. Check it out!

Google Launches Mobile-Friendly Test Tool

Google’s adding a “mobile-friendly” label to the mobile search results starting from today. As they say, the change will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks.

To be eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label, a web page needs to meet the following criteria:

[checklist icon=”fa-check” iconcolor=”#000000″ circle=”no” circlecolor=”” size=”medium” class=”” id=””]

  • Avoid using software not supported by mobile devices (Flash)
  • Text should be readable without zooming
  • Users do not have to scroll horizontally or zoom (screen sizing)
  • Users should be able to click on the desired link on a page easily (links should be placed far from each other)

[/checklist]

 

So, do you think your website is mobile-friendly? Think no more!

Google also launches a new tool to test your website’s mobile friendliness – Mobile Friendly Test Tool. You can check your web pages, find out the page issues and how to solve them.

Here’s a snapshot of a test for a web page that is a mobile-friendly.

google-mobile-friendly-test-tool

 

Want your website to have the “Mobile-Friendly” label? Go to check your website now

Changes to What Users See in Their Twitter Timelines

twitter-timeline-changes

Twitter has updated the definition of “What’s a Twitter timeline?” in its Help Center, specifically adding this point:


Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.


These changes are not implemented yet, and we have no information how and when they are going to happen. However, it seems like Twitter is becoming more like Facebook.

One thing I can say for sure: Twitter has been the place where I used to see what I wanted to see.

So, hopefully a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant will be really what I want to see.

Happy tweeting!

Share Link Generator

How many times have you thought about the tool that would generate custom share links for any page, or file you want?

Let’s imagine you’re creating a pdf file and there is no possibility of putting a social button.  Or you are sending out emails to let people know  about your new article. Would you like to have the chance of placing a link to enable them share your article or ebook right from inside the email or the PDF file? How?!

share-link-generator

Here’s the solution – custom share link generator. With this tool, you’ll be able to generate the share links for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Pinterest. For instance, copy the URL of your ebook or presentation and paste it in the tool and you’ll be able to generate the share links for the each of the above mentioned networks.

Then you can go back to your email, and write for example, Share this on Facebook and hyperlink these words with the link you have generated.

Here’s a custom generated link that will share this page on Facebook – click here to see.

Another example, the link will tweet the below sentence, add the URL of this post and hashtag #awesomeclick to try.

Create Custom Share Links and Use Them Almost Everywhere on The Web.

You can use these generated links in emails, signatures, any file and any web page. Here’s how it can be used in emails:

share-links-in-emails

Another example of using the share links in PDF files:

share-links-in-pdf-files

SHARE LINK GENERATOR

Hope you like our tool. We will be happy to hear any feedback or suggestion from you.

HTTPS as a ranking signal: Google to Prioritize Secure Sites

google-to-prioritize-sites-with-httpsGoogle has proved that security is a top priority for the company; Search, Gmail and Google Drive have a secure connection to Google.

It was not surprising for me to learn that Google will give preference to more secure websites (https) in its organic search rankings.

Over the past few months the company has been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in their search ranking algorithms.

“We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal,” Google said.

This may encourage many webmasters to turn on encryption. However, this will take time and also cost some money.

With https the website is less vulnerable to hacking, and with Google new policy has more chances for ranking high.

Previously many companies had concerns about budget or fears of slowing website response times.

Now there are high-speed encryption technologies and https has no longer time issue.

Right now Https is not as strong signal for ranking, like for instance content. Google wants to give time to webmasters to upgrade their sites. Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes said in the blog post.

“For now it’s only a very lightweight signal – affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content – while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”

If you have a website with critical data or if you simply want to stay on the safe side, my honest recommendation would be to turn https.

Google introduced HTTPS in 2011.

New Translation Feature in Google Search Results

Google adds a new translation feature to its search results making it very easy to translate texts, edit them, change the languages and even hear the translated texts directly from the search results page.

New Google Translation Tools

Just start typing “translate” on Google search box and it will let you quickly enter the text you need to translate and the box below.

I think this is an awesome addition and can help save time a lot. Here’s an example:

Google Translate in Search Results

You can translate the terms you need just typing it in the search box: for example: “translate hello friend to spanish

Google Translate from Search Box

 

 

Google’s Panda 4.0 Forces PR Newswire to Take Action Against Spammers

Google Panda 4.0 had pretty negative effects on press release sites, including the large press release distribution company – PR Newswire. Panda aims to take down on low quality content and prevent low quality websites from ranking high in the search engine results pages (SERP).pr-newswire

The PR Newswire aims to recover from algorithmic penalty by taking action on spammers with the following new press release guidelines:

  • Inclusion of insightful analysis and original content (e.g. research, reporting or other interesting and useful information);
  • Use of varied release formats, guarding against repeated use of templated copy (except boilerplate);
  • Assessing release length, guarding against issue of very short, unsubstantial messages that are mere vehicles for links;
  • Overuse of keywords and/or links within the message.

The company has announced that new content will be evaluated under new guidelines and this will help reduce distribution of low quality content over PR Newswire network. PR newswire also took action on identifying and removing the low quality content.

The PR Newswire CEO – Ninan Chacko – said: “PR Newswire is committed to continuously improving the quality of the content distributed via our network, website, and other digital channels in order to better serve the millions of journalists, bloggers and members of the public who read press releases each month. By reviewing each piece of content to ensure message quality, and deleting releases we find to be of low quality, we will increase the value of our content and website for our audiences, and limit the exploitation of content distribution for questionable SEO tactics.”

This sounds good and I wish PR Newswire best of luck. .

Stay tuned!

Shared via: 360opps

YouTube Mix for Artists/Bands on the Sidebar. Is it new?

Have you noticed this before on YouTube?

When you search for an artist/group/band along with usual results, on the right sidebar YouTube returns ‘YouTube Mix‘ for the artist with a larger cover photos. Below the ‘YouTube Mix’ there are  ‘Top songs‘ and ‘Albums‘ tabs displaying their songs and albums.

Below there’s also ‘Related artists‘ box showing 3 artists with album covers.YouTube Mix on Sidebar

Click to see the larger photo or follow the link to see it yourself.

Maybe it is new to me only, maybe there are other changes as well. Let me know, if you know one.