Marketing and Business Intelligence

hreflang tag and SEO International

Picture of Julián Sánchez
Julian Sanchez
The implementation of the hreflang tag can help us improve the visibility of our website when it is published in several languages.
hreflang tag

In this post we will try to help you better understand the hreflang tag and to improve your website when it is published in different languages. It is important to keep in mind that translations “on the fly” by using Google Translate plugins or api are not useful. All content must be translated and, if possible, by an expert in each language.

If you want a consultancy or advice SEO carried out by our team of experts, do not hesitate to contact Millennials Consulting.

What is the hreflang tag and what is it for?

The hreflang tag is a HTML attribute very useful in our webs when we work the content in several languages. Using this tag we are helping the crawling robots to locate the correct version of our website by language or region.

The hreflang tag tells search engines if a website is displayed in different languages, the location of the website and in which versions the content is served. The use of this tag is recommendable so much for the translation into several languages such as language variations, such as Spanish in South America. By applying this tag we help Google to better understand in which language our website is offered in order to show it to users according to their origin. If we have several versions of the same page, with this hreflang tag we are indicating to Google which of all the versions we want to show the user.

If we have a multilanguage website or ecommerce, this label is very convenient for improve positioning of our contents in different parts of the world.

Using this tag we can attract new audiences to our website.

  • Users from the same country who speak different languages
  • Users from different countries who speak other languages
  • Users from different countries speaking the same language

How to use the hreflang tag?

Enough with include in head section of our website the following link with the proper language code. We must place each of these labels in its corresponding language, as many as the languages ​​our website offers. Today, there are many plugins for website translation that offer this function automatically in their paid versions.

The correct format for hreflang tag implementation should be the following:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”it-IT” href=”“/>

  • relay link=“alternate”: The link in this tag is an alternate version of this page.
  • hreflang=“x”: It is alternative because it is in another language and that language is x.
  • href=“”: The alternative page is at this address.

Hreflang gives search engines important information about your content, as it indicates language codes and country codes for each content. This code tells search engines which language and region the content is targeting. It is important to note that the attribute value must contain both the language and the country “is-ES”.

There are tag generators like this.

Relationship between hreflang tags

The relationship between hreflang tags means that it must reference itself and all other versions. When we talk about bidirectional relationship each tag must be paired with a tag in the alternate content.

For example, if the ES page connects to the EN page, then the EN page must connect back to the ES page.

Language and region codes

The value of the hreflang attribute indicates the language (in format ISO 639-1) and sometimes the region (in format ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2) of an alternate URL. If only one code is provided, Google considers it a language code. The language does not have to be related to the region. By example:

de: content in German, regardless of region

en-GB: English content aimed at British users

of is: content in German for users who are in Spain


Label x-default to show a specific version to users of languages ​​not indicated

La X-default variant creates a default version of a page that is not targeted to a specific language where users are prompted to select language. This is very useful for users who don't have a default language in your browser settings

For example, if we serve our website in ES and EN languages ​​and a user accesses from China, by default we can indicate that the website is served in English.

An optional value, but it's recommended to include it to control which version is shown to users of languages ​​you haven't specified. It is not necessary to specify a language code in the x-default value.





BY DEFAULT / rest of users

What function does the hreflang tag have in SEO?

The main function of this tag is to improve the usability of the website as we make it easy for users to localize our content in their language or location. This can also help us with positioning, since if a website in one language has a good positioning, it can affect other language variations.

How does the hreflang tag help us in the SEO International?

First of all, the use of this label helps us to improve positioning SEO law We have already defined the correct version for each language and this is detected by crawlers such as Googlebot. In this way we help search engines to index the keywords in the correct language.

The implementation of the hreflang tag helps avoid duplicate content since we are indicating the different versions of our website.

When to use the hreflang tag?

Sometimes Google can detect the different language versions of a website but it is important to indicate it. Google our recommended indicate localized versions in Google Search Console in the following cases:

  • When the content is only in one language but there are regional variations with very similar content. For example, pages with content in Spanish aimed at Mexico, Spain or Colombia.
  • When web content is in a language and a translation of the template is made, from the navigation menu and web footer. This situation usually occurs on pages with user-generated content, such as forums.
  • The content is fully translated into several languages. For example, pages with a version in English and another in Spanish.
  • When our home page is created for all users to exception of visitors with a specific language. In this case the website is partially translated and only provides content to certain specific users in certain languages ​​or regions. All other users will be directed to the default home page.

Methods to indicate alternative pages

You can tell us that a page has versions in other languages ​​or targeted to certain regions in three different ways:


HTTP headers

Link: ; rel=”alternate”; hreflang=”lang_code_1″, ; rel=”alternate”; hreflang=”lang_code_1″, …


Specify the xhtml namespace like so:


Create an item different for each URL.

Each element must include a child element indicating the URL of the page.

Each element must have a child element with all variants of the page, including that of the element itself. The order of these children It's not important, but we recommend that you always use the same one to make it easier for you to check for errors.


<urlset xmlns=»″















Common errors with the hreflang tag

Missing reciprocal links: if page X contains a link to page Y, page Y must have a link to page X. If this condition is not met on all pages that use hreflang annotations, these annotations may be ignored or are not interpreted correctly. For example, if includes this link:

An hreflang link must also be included in that returns to the version of the content:

Wrong language codes: Make sure the language codes you use identify the language in ISO 639-1 format and, optionally, the region in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format of alternate URLs. You cannot specify only the region.

test hreflang

you can use this tool to verify correct implementation of this tag.

List of language codes

Language Hreflang Code
abkhazian ab
Afrikaans af
Aragonese an
Arabic ar
assamese as
azerbaijani az
belarusian be
bulgarian bg
bengali bn
tibetan bo
Breton br
bosnian bs
Catalan / Valencian ca
Chechen ce
corsican co
Czech cs
Church Slavic cu
welsh cy
Danish da
German de
greek el
English en
Esperanto eo
Spanish / Castilian es
estonian et
basque eu
persian fa
finnish fi
fijian fj
faroese fo
French fr
Western Friesian fy
Irish ga
Gaelic / Scottish Gaelic gd
galician gl
M gv
hebrew he
Hindi hi
croatian hr
Haitian; Haitian Creole ht
hungarian hu
armenian hy
Indonesian id
icelandic is
Italian it
Japanese ja
javanese jv
georgian ka
Congo kg
Korean ko
Kurdish ku
cornish kw
Kirghiz ky
latin la
Luxembourgish; Letzeburgesch lb
Limburgan; limburger; Limburgish li
lingala ln
lithuanian lt
latvian lv
malagasy mg
macedonian mk
mongolian mn
Moldovan mo
malay ms
maltese mt
Burmese my
Norwegian (Bokmål) nb
nepali ne
Dutch nl
Norwegian (Nynorsk) nn
norwegian No.
Occitan (post 1500); provencal oc
Polish pl
Portuguese pt
Raeto-novel rm
Romanian ro
russian ru
Sardinian sc
Northern Sami se
slovak sk
Slovenian sl
somali so
albanian sq
Serbian sr
Swedish sv
swahili sw
turkmen tk
Turkish tr
tahitian ty
Ukrainian uk
urdu ur
uzbek uz
Tiếng Việt vi
Volapuk vo
yiddish yi
Chinese (simplified) zh-hans
ภาษาไทย th

List of country codes

Country Hreflang Code
Afghanistan. AF
Aland Islands AX
Albania AL
Algeria DZ
American Samoa AS
Andorra AD
Angola AO
Anguilla AI
Antarctica AQ
Antigua and Barbuda AG
Argentina AR
Armenia AM
Aruba AW
Australia AU
Austria AT
Azerbaijan AZ
Bahamas BS
Bahrain BH
Bangladesh BD
Barbados BB
Belarus BY
Belgium BE
Belize BZ
Benin BJ
Bermuda BM
Bhutan BT
Bolivia, Plurinational State of BO
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba BQ
Bosnia and Herzegovina BA
Botswana BW
Bouvet Island BV
Brazil BR
British Indian Ocean Territory IO
Brunei Darussalam BN
Bulgaria BG
Burkina Faso BF
Burundi BI
Cambodia KH
cameroon CM
Canada CA
Cape Verde CV
Cayman Islands KY
Central African Republic CF
Chad TD
Chile CL
China CN
Christmas Island CX
Cocos (Keeling) Islands CC
Colombia CO
Comoros KM
Congo CG
Congo, the Democratic Republic of the CD
Cook Islands CK
Costa Rica CR
Cote d'Ivoire CI
Croatia HR
Cuba CU
Curaçao CW
Cyprus CY
Czech Republic CZ
Denmark DK
Djibouti DJ
Dominica DM
Dominican Republic DO
Ecuador EC
Egypt EG
The Savior SV
Equatorial Guinea GQ
eritrea ER
Estonia EE
Ethiopia ET
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) FK
Faroe Islands FO
Fiji FJ
Finland FI
France FR
French Guiana GF
French Polynesia PF
French Southern Territories TF
Gabon GA
Gambia GM
Georgia GE
Germany DE
Ghana GH
Gibraltar GI
Greece GR
greenland GL
Grenada GD
Guadeloupe GP
Guam GU
Guatemala GT
Guernsey GG
Guinea GN
Guinea-Bissau GW
Guyana GY
Haiti HT
Heard Island and McDonald Islands HM
Holy See (Vatican City State) VA
Honduras HN
Hong Kong HK
Hungary HU
Iceland IS
India IN
Indonesia ID
Iran, Islamic Republic of IR
Iraq IQ
ireland IE
Isle of Man IM
Israel IL
Italy IT
Jamaica JM
Japan JP
Jersey JE
Jordan JO
Kazakhstan KZ
Kenya KE
Kiribati KI
Korea, Democratic People's Republic of KP
Korea, Republic of KR
Kuwait KW
Kyrgyzstan KG
Lao People's Democratic Republic LA
latvia LV
lebanon LB
Lesotho LS
Liberia LR
libya LY
Liechtenstein LI
lithuania LT
Luxembourg LU
Macau MO
Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of MK
Madagascar MG
Malawi MW
Malaysia MY
Maldives MV
Mali ML
Malta MT
Marshall Islands MH
Martinique MQ
Mauritania MR
Mauritius MU
Mayotte YT
Mexico MX
Micronesia, Federated States of FM
Moldova, Republic of MD
Monaco MC
Mongolia MN
Montenegro ME
Montserrat MS
morocco MA
Mozambique MZ
Myanmar MM
Namibia NA
Nauru NR
Nepal NP
Netherlands NL
New Caledonia NC
new zealand NZ
Nicaragua NI
Niger NE
Nigeria NG
Niue NU
norfolk island NF
Northern Mariana Islands MP
norway DO NOT
Oman OM
Pakistan PK
palau PW
Palestine, State of PS
Panama PA
Papua New Guinea PG
Paraguay PY
Peru PE
Philippines PH
Pitcairn Islands PN
poland PL
Portugal PT
Puerto Rico PR
Qatar QA
Reunion Island RE
Romania RO
Russian Federation RU
Rwanda RW
Saint Barthelemy BL
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha SH
Saint Kitts and Nevis KN
saint lucia LC
Saint Martin (French part) MF
Saint Pierre and Miquelon PM
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines VC
Samoa WS
San Marino SM
Sao Tome and Principe ST
Saudi Arabia SA
Senegal SN
Serbia RS
Seychelles SC
Sierra Leone SL
Singapore SG
Sint Maarten (Dutch part) SX
Slovakia SK
Slovenia SI
Solomon Islands SB
Somalia SO
south africa ZA
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands GS
south sudan SS
Spain ES
Sri Lanka LK
Sudan SD
Suriname SR
Svalbard and Jan Mayen SJ
Swaziland SZ
Sweden SE
Switzerland CH
Syrian Arab Republic SY
Taiwan, Province of China TW
Tajikistan TJ
Tanzania, United Republic of TZ
Thailand TH
Timor-Leste TL
Togo TG
Tokelau TK
Tonga TO
Trinidad and Tobago TT
tunisia TN
Turkey TR
Turkmenistan TM
Turks and Caicos Islands TC
Tuvalu TV
Uganda UG
Ukraine UA
united arab emirates AE
United Kingdom GB
United States US
United States Minor Outlying Islands UM
Uruguay UY
Uzbekistan UZ
Vanuatu VU
Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of VE
vietnam VN
Virgin Islands, British VG
Virgin Islands, US VI
Wallis and Futuna WF
Western Sahara EH
Yemen YE
Zambia ZM
Zimbabwe ZW


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hreflang tag and SEO International
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hreflang tag and SEO International
The implementation of the hreflang tag can help us improve the visibility of our website when it is published in several languages.
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