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Pierre Far had a hangout named webmaster central hangout in english with pierre far 2011-12-08. {url}Tim Capper, Kurai Tengu, Clément Contet, Usman Patel, BrunoO Winchester' ᴹᵉ ᶜᶤʳᶜᵘˡᵃ, Sameer Ballani, Ian Couper, Vishal Kumar, Ali Raza, Mohammad Jawabreh, Noman Sadiq, Edward Cowell, and Lyndon NA
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Any plans to make rel="alternate" hreflang="CountryCODE" work if used on normal hrefs rather than just the head of a document?

ie: Used within a country selection drop down.

Currently you propose these in each of the head sections of the pages:
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="es-ES" href="" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="es-MX" href="" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="" />

However it might be simpler, as most mutliligual websites use country selection menus to allow the rel tag to be used and recognised as a device within those menus. Therefore I could deploy one set of code across all language variations.

<A rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="" />Spanish Global</A>
<A rel="alternate" hreflang="es-ES" href="" />Spain</A>
<A rel="alternate" hreflang="es-MX" href="" />Mexico</A>
<A rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="" />English</A>
Thanks for joining everyone!
ps. Can you run over the Irish/English example again?
Hi Pierre.
Many thanks for today, will be back.... invaluable.
where did you want me to send that url ?
+Tim Capper Please post it in the Webmaster help fourm:

+Edward Cowell On the equivalent pages on the Irish and the UK sites, use something like this:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-ie" href="" />

This markup specifies UK and Ireland but doesn't specify a "generic" English language URL, so let's pretend that you have that on In this case the full markup will be:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="" />

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-ie" href="" />
If the content on these URLs is considered duplicate content, then you're advised to use a rel="canonical" to point to your preferred default URL. In this example, a good candidate is the www URL, and the rel="canonical" tag should go on both the en-gb and the en-ie URLs.
Does this help?

+Clément Contet And thank you for coming :)
Sorry a bit more. Where the content is duplicated would the canonical be in addition to the alternate tags or instead?

IE: Overall deployable code block (allowing for one set of code on all pages and self referential tags) as:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-ie" href="" />
<link rel="canonical" href="" />
Yes that markup looks right. rel="canonical" is an independent concept of the rel-alternate-hreflang markup.

To take this example one more step, say you add French language equivalent pages for your French speakers in Canada and French speakers in France, but again duplicate content in French. In this situation you would add two more rel-alternate-hreflang annotations for the pages in French, but on the English pages you would have one rel="canonical" and the the French pages you would have another.

Makes sense? You write up the annotations as an exercise to make sure you understood it well :)
Yes that makes more sense. What was confusing us was that using rel="canonical" and rel="alternate" together seemed a bit wrong. But if you are saying they will work together and not conflict with each other that's fine with us.
Why is confusing? I'm curious so that I can answer it and help explain it better to other webmasters in the future.
It's confusing because we mostly think about rel="canonical" working as if it were a form of redirection command (admittedly a very specific one for removing duplicate content).

So wherever it is used in a page our expected outcome is to prevent the referencing canonical pages from ranking by hinting to Google only the canonical page should rank, which seems to slightly contradict the usage of rel-alternate-lang. As the presence of a canonical in duplicate yet country specific pages suggests these would no longer rank in their own territories.

Using both tags together feels like on the one hand saying rank this page in Ireland and on the other don't rank this page, rank the generic one.

Does that make sense?
Hi +Edward Cowell. Let me start it from the top as I think that might be easier to explain without messing it up :)

Imagine you have three duplicate content sites targeting Ireland specifically, one for the UK specifically, and one for all other English speakers, say,, and Previously, you had the option of letting our algorithms to pick the canonical URL or you could have used a rel="canonical" to signal to our algos which one you preferred. Let's say you picked as the canonical for this example.

In this case, searchers on,, and would be shown your chosen canonical URL when it is a result.

The new improved rel-alternate-hreflang annotations allow you to add another signal: You are specifying a cluster of duplicate content in English with targeting English speakers in Ireland, targeting English speakers in the UK and is the default to be shown for others.

In this case, for an English search on, we would show them the Ireland-specific URL, namely Similarly, for an English search on, we would show the UK-specific URL, For searches on and elsewhere, we would show your default, the canonical URL at

What do I mean by "show" in this case? It's a replacement of the URL. Our ranking takes account of many signals and suppose that the algos decide that the canonical URL deserves position 5 for this query. On, we would show as position 5. On, we'd replace that to show at position 5 and on we'd replace that to show

Is this clearer?
Cool. As long as the local searchers will still land on the correct local URLs we're happy.
Pierre > Excellent explanation :)
+Pierre Far So rel-alternate-hreflang is a stronger signal then rel canonical for a specific country? For example on Google prefers to show the URL's stated in the rel="alternate" hreflang="x" over the rel="canonical".
+Edward Cowell Yep that's the idea.

+Pe lagic Thanks :)

+W.E. Jonk I wouldn't describe it as "strength" of a signal. When you use a rel="canonical" in conjunction with rel-alternate-hreflang you're defining a cluster of equivalent pages and annotating some URLs as alternatives of each other for a given language and, optionally, country.
Hi, I have a question, for my website .NL en .BE i have a duplicate content issue (the content is in Dutch for both countries). So I actualy have the same content available on the TLD .nl en .be. But, some of the .be pages rank better in then .nl pages and the other way around.

To let google know that I have 2 websites for 2 different countries in one language I assume that I need to use both canonical tag and rel-alternate-hreflang, right? Or do I only need to add the rel='alternate"hreflang="x" tag to say which website is for which country without the canonical?

And second question: if I choose .NL as a canonical website (in case this is neccesary) what will happen with the .be pages that rank well in Do I loose my ranking with the .be page in (becasue my canonical on which the rankings will be based is .nl) or will replace .be pages with .nl pages in SERP and the other way around?

This is actualy also the case for if I only use the rel='alternate"hreflang="x" tag. Will my .be pages stay in the SERP of and my .nl pages in SERP or will google replace the well ranking .be pages in with .nl pages and .nl pages with .be pages in I am confused, so please help so that i can implement the right solution.
@ Christopher Semturs - Thank you very much for your reply! You are right, I need to run some tests to see what will happen. Once again, thanks a lot.
Thanks for opening interesting discussion Pierre Far. I got a question in regards to folders structure. Does new attribute (rel='alternate"hreflang="x) need to be applied if I got a folders structure multilingual website? 1. 2. 3. / Also what should I do with Swiss German & Swiss French version? I was thinking to apply new <head> space tag in all those languages, but not sure if that's the way forward. Can someone share more light on that case?
( Edited slightly for clarity and a typo. )

Hi +Marcin Chirowski. The rel-alternate-hreflang markup annotation is per page. For example, if the following pages are equivalent:


Then you would annotate all of them with the rel-alternate-hreflang. This creates a cluster.

You have to be careful because in your example the /ch pages might be in French or German. If there is duplicate content between the /ch pages and other languages, we recommend using a rel="canonical" to specify with one you prefer our algos to treat as the canonical "default" page.

Does that help?
Thanks for your answer +Pierre Far, I would need to do more research in that case, as I'm still uncertain. btw. Do you know what if webmasters won't make any changes, as they still need to think about it. Does Google will penalize for not implementing new markup?
+Christopher Semturs so i have a lot of work to do. If the directory sctucture includes verbs or words, makes reason to translate, so, the urls are very different. For example, news and noticias, doesn't make sense for an english site the word "noticias" in the url.

Thanks chris
Yep, language picker it's already on the web ^^
nop, the language picker sends you to the home of the selected language, not to the current page on the selected language. But there's no problem ^^
Hi Pierre, are there any examples of this in the wild that are working. I have not come across one yet. I've set up some tests, and have had less than stellar results (Google not doing anything), but noticed a small typo with my languages so that may have contributed to issues. But, I came across this example: and it also doesn't have any of the desired results in Google's regions (that I can tell) that the hreflang system promotes. It actually seems to have harmed it for this guy as is showing up in instead of even though is canonicaling itself.

(example in the wild found @ this blog:
So for international versions of your site which are identical in content & language (US, UK, AU, CA) - we can use the href lang tags as well in order for the search engine to display the appropriate one per locale specific search engine.

However, rel canonical is also required as the content is identical? These domains are also on it's countries TLD by the way, not sub domained or foldered.

Question: Wouldn't rel canonicalizing all my international pages to the US essentially transfer 100% of external link juice to my .com? Would this affect my international sites rankings as the link juice is now being transferred, or will this not impact rankings at all when hreflang is used in conjunction with rel canonical?
Thank you for your prompt response. We will be implementing these tags.

With the rel canonical in place for same english language domains, the link juice will then be accredited 100% from Uk, AU, CA --> US .com - I understand external links pointing to your page/site is still a relevant ranking factor for search results (given the links are natural followed links and from relevant rank passing pages).

Will this potentially now negate the ability for my UK, AU, and CA domains on ranking as high as they once did, or will the algorithm not shift the link juice as a ranking factor decision since the hreflang tags are being used in conjunction?
I just implemented this on (an Aussie page) which has average reach in New Zealand, while the duplicate website has almost no SERPS...

So far I had only used the canonical tag, so I'm hoping I can get better positions in NZ.

My question now however is how should I do my linkbuilding? should I push my main site more or should I push the in the New Zealand market? as these are duplicates I only want to link to one of the two, but as the already has quite a bit of links pointing at it (mostly aussie) it would be great if I can just use that as the main page and it automatically would redirect to

not sure if above makes sense, but it is a bit of a puzzle.
If I put Content aside (I think it should be more international oriented anyway)
And I would put it in the NZ yellowpages, or relevant niche websites, would it be better if I put the page in, or the already better ranking or will they compete with eachother?
Thanks for the info, that is very good to know!
Hi - I've got a question re: multi-region/multi-language targeting if somebody could advise please.

We have targeting UK, with UK content.

We're rolling out to Europe, etc, so will have for France.

The issue we're coming across, is how to handle multi-languages on a region.

For Canada, should we handle French-Canadian like this:-

Then implement the rel-alternate-hreflang attributes were necessary?

Advice greatly appreciated please.

Thanks for the quick reply.

So, for Canada standard, then for French Canadian, and so forth for other multi-lingual regions? (while implementing the rel-alternate-hreflang, and rel-canonical if the content is translated?)

The next issue with that, would be Webmaster Tools targeting.

If is targeted to Canada in Webmaster Tools, how would the be targeting to the French Canadian version of

Thanks a lot - help is appreciated.
Thanks again.

Yeah the issue is that we would be rolling out into multiple locations (with potential multiple languages).

We will have a French version of the site ( and the French-Canadian version ( - so presumably we would need to geotarget to make certain the correct instance of the site is served?

Is there any issue with targeting both .com/ca/ and .com/fr-ca/ to Canada in Webmaster Tools? Or is that something that may cause some problems?

Great, thanks +Christopher Semturs.

One final question (sorry!) - just to confirm the latest thinking on this.

There are no potential issues with redirecting users based on IP address (location) are there? I mean in terms of the search engine crawlers - as we don't want to cause any issues by redirecting search engine crawlers to different parts of the website.

There would be clear options for users to change country if they are redirected to the incorrect version of the site.

Sorry to post back here, but I have a quick question +Christopher Semturs :-

We will have a number of regions in subdirectories on a .com domain - some of which will be similar languages, some of which will be completely different languages. ALL of these regions will be geotargeted within Webmaster Tools.

Due to the geotargeting, does this mean that we don't have to worry about the canonical tag? (i.e. /en-US/ geotargeted to US, so shouldn't have to worry about canonical to /en-GB/ even though the content is similar)

Also, with all of the regions geotargeted, should we then simply use the hreflang tag to denote all of the variants of the pages (in theory ~50 per page?). I just want to confirm that there are no issues with geotargeting and hreflang being used together.

Hey +Christopher Semturs Could you expand on some of the information you have given above in terms of how this change effects link building. For example, if I have the following structure:

both and are translated into their relevant languages, but and are identical (targeting US and UK respectively). Would I opt for the following structure:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="" />
<link rel="canonical" href="" />

e.g., I wouldn't include FR / DE as these are not duplicate (if they are translated). Or would I include the alternate tag for these, but just not the canonical tag as they are not duplicate versions of the US.

In terms of link building. If I am trying to build a regional strategy for the UK site (e.g. build local signals including UK links), will these have any benefit now, if I am using the canonical tag to pass on these signals to the US site? The guidance in terms of how this affects local level link building is really not clear as to me, it seems like you will only ever rank as high as the .com site e.g. if my .com site only ranks 5th for "example" keyword, using the above, my UK site will only rank 5th, even if I switch my attention to the UK site and work hard to build lots more local signals to that page.

I would really appreciate any feedback on the above.
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