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Introducing "x-default hreflang" for international landing pages

Webmaster Level: All

The homepages of multinational and multilingual websites are sometimes configured to point visitors to localized pages, either via redirects or by changing the content to reflect the user’s language. Today we’ll introduce a new rel-alternate-hreflang annotation that the webmaster can use to specify such homepages that is supported by both Google and Yandex.

To see this in action, let’s look at an example. The website example.com has content that targets users around the world as follows:

Map of the world illustrating which hreflang code to use for which locale
https://example.com/en-gb: For English-speaking users in the UK https://example.com/en-us: For English-speaking users in the USA https://example.com/en-au: For English-speaking users in Australia https://example.com/: The homepage shows users a country selector and is the default page for users worldwide

In this case, the webmaster can annotate this cluster of pages using rel-alternate-hreflang using Sitemaps or using HTML link tags like this:

<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/en-gb" hreflang="en-gb" /> <link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/en-us" hreflang="en-us" /> <link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/en-au" hreflang="en-au" /> <link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/" hreflang="x-default" />

The new x-default hreflang attribute value signals to our algorithms that this page doesn’t target any specific language or locale and is the default page when no other page is better suited. For example, it would be the page our algorithms try to show French-speaking searchers worldwide or English-speaking searchers on google.ca.

The same annotation applies for homepages that dynamically alter their contents based on a user’s perceived geolocation or the Accept-Language headers. The x-default hreflang value signals to our algorithms that such a page doesn’t target a specific language or locale.

As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please tell us in the Internationalization Webmaster Help Forum.

Posted by Pierre Far, Webmaster Trends Analyst

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