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Titles and rel-alternate-hreflang annotations

In my last webmaster office hours hangout I got an interesting question: When a webmaster uses rel-alternate-hreflang annotations to mark up a cluster of equivalent pages that target different language-country combinations, can the titles be different for each country?

The answer is yes, use a title that makes sense for your users and your site.

Let's take an example to illustrate this. Suppose we have these two English language pages selling the same widget, one for the US and one for the UK:

www.example.com/en-us/widget
www.example.com/en-gb/widget

Let's say they both use the same product description, product image, etc, so their content is considered substantially the same thing (aka "duplicate content").

But the pages are slightly different: The US page has the price in US$, the UK one in GBP and each page has a different local customer service number and delivery info.

The idea of rel-alternate-hreflang is to help you signal to our algorithms that although these two pages have substantially the same content, the small differences between them are still important. Specifically, the small differences are relevant for users of a specific language (and in a country). By the same logic, the title can be different too. 
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Mohammed ALAMI's profile photoDavid Lastra's profile photoGavin Sutherland's profile photoSam Hollingsworth's profile photo
9 comments
 
Perfect Pierre, I bought up the same issue with +John Mueller on the same day with his hangout. I had a similar issue, we had 2 different websites with slightly different localised content to target different markets for UK & USA, but in essence the same content. Thought i had cracked it with my tags on each relevant website, but what i overlooked was having a single language tag for that respective site only. +John Mueller pointed out you need each both language tags so as to   reference the other geo alternative so search robots & google recognise the connection. So to clarify i had the UK rel="alternate" hreflang="x" tag on the US site as well. Visa Versa with the UK site - US rel="alternate" hreflang="x". Good tip.
C Byrne
 
thanks for this. been scratching my head for a while with a similar issue.
 
By the way +Pierre Far , why do you need to self reference a specific page via alt language markup?  Surely semantically anyway, this is incorrect, or is it just a means to ensure that the same code can be rolled out with the minimum of fuss across alternate versions?

I'm referring here to on-page mark up specifically of course.
 
+Gavin Sutherland I programmed the tool that +Sam Hollingsworth mentioned. Its working fine on my end (just checked). I would be happy to assist you and see whats happening on your end.

However, If you are referring to the fact that for an en-us site must also be included in the list of rel="alternate" hreflang="x" tags, then the tool leaves that up to you. You simply include that as another language you would like to replace (it was done this way because I can't know the origin language or country). A future iteration might simply prompt you for that info and automatically make the adjustments though.
 
Thanks +Paul Shapiro  for the reply. It works fine - I based my comments on a quick test, but will check it out some - appreciate the effort you've put into this thus far and would definitely welcome the iteration you've mentioned in the future to make things easier :)
 
Thanks Pierre, we are working in this question now :-)
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