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.
The good news for Weglot users is that we automatically set up and add 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.
But it doesn’t matter if you’re a Weglot user (yet!) or not, you’d still want to ensure that your hreflang tags work correctly. After all, that’s how you can be sure that 1) search engines can actually process your multilingual content and 2) serve it to your users in their native languages.
And to help you do just this, we’ve launched our very own hreflang tags checker tool. Weglot’s hreflang tags checker solution (Hreflang Checker) tells you instantly if you’ve got your hreflang annotations right. Let’s take a quick look at our hreflang tags checker and the concept of hreflang tags in general.
Weglot doesn’t just help you translate your website into multiple languages but also (automatically and accurately) sets up your hreflang tags so that search engines can deliver the right translated versions for searches in native languages.
What are hreflang tags?
If you’re looking for a crash course on hreflang tags, check this out: A guide to hreflang tag best practices for SEO
But here’s a quick primer for this post before we get to our hreflang tags checker:
Hreflang tags are HTML attributes in your page source code used to tell search engines like Google, Bing, and Yandex about pages on your website that are similar in content but are targeting different languages. The goal is to get more conversions by conveying the same (original) content/copy to users in their native languages.
Your hreflang tags are a key part of your international SEO mix as search engines use your hreflang attributes to route searchers to the relevant translated variants of your copy. With the right hreflang markup, a search in Spanish will fetch your homepage’s Spanish version. Likewise, a search with a German keyphrase will fetch the German version of the page. In short, the right variants of your web pages get served each time for searches in native languages with hreflang tags.
Your hreflang data contains information about your language codes, language versions, (ISO 3166-1 or ISO 639-1) country codes, region codes, return tags, canonical tags, your x-default (or the fallback version search engines must route searchers to), hreflang links, alternate URLs, and more — this is a lot of technical SEO as you can tell. Hreflang tags help determine the language of web pages so search engines can serve the best versions to their users.
Having a multilingual website means you have your homepage and web pages with similar (or the same) content translated into different languages. As a webmaster, you’ll want to notify search engines about this, so they can send your potential site visitors to content in their native language and, equally importantly, not have your website get seen as one that serves duplicate content.
Here’s how these hreflang tags work: Let’s say I’m 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 your page appear in the search results. As a website owner, you, too, would 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 hreflang tags look 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 get into the exact process needed to add hreflang annotations in this post. (We’ve covered how you can set up hreflang tags manually via XML sitemaps and other methods in detail here.) However, keep in mind that while setting up hreflang tags manually seems like a simple process at first, it can quickly turn into a nightmare.
Now, 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.
Do you know what’s better than setting up hreflang tags manually and testing them with an hreflang tags checker tool like ours and hoping that they work as intended? Getting Weglot and having your hreflang implementation done for you — automatically and correctly.
Are my hreflang tags implemented correctly? Meet Hreflang Checker — Weglot’s hreflang tags checker
Our hreflang tags checker tool shows you within seconds if you’ve set up your hreflang tags correctly! Let’s check it out.
How does our hreflang tags checker work?
Simply go to our hreflang tags checker‘s page, enter the URL of your website, select the search engine you’d like to test your hreflang tags with, and click ‘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.
Take our hreflang validator tool for a spin now! And if you have any feedback on our hreflang tags checker tool, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven’t already signed up for Weglot to power your website’s translations, do so now. Weglot automagically generates all the hreflang tags your multilingual website needs to communicate with search engines, so they can deliver the right version of a web page each time. Sign up for a free trial now!