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Hreflang Country Codes Help

7:34 am on Feb 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi all,

We have newly launched a Chinese website for which I need to add hreflang codes in the code section of our English Website. As you know, it helps Google to understand which version of website we want to target for a particular region so that Google will display results from this version.

We have been following it along with setting geo target in GWT as well.

My question is, what language code should I be using so as to tell Google about my Chinese Website? I see that Google backed off from China sometimes ago and the default Chinese version of Google is going to the HK version of Google. Any help guys?

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="cn" href="http://www.example.com/cn/g1" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="zh_CN" href="http://www.example.com/cn/g1" />
It would be advisable to use all three in hreflang section of my English Website?
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="cn" href="http://www.example.com/cn/g1" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="zh_CN" href="http://www.example.com/cn/g1" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="zh_TW" href="http://www.example.com/cn/g1" />

That way Google will consider when the browser language is Chinese, or Simplified Chinese, Or Taiwan Chinese right?

Thanks for all your help!
11:45 am on Feb 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

cn isn't a language, it's a country.

Well, it might be some language so obscure I couldn't find it, but it isn't an alternative to zh.
11:58 am on Feb 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm using these two language codes for Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional:

<html lang="zh-Hans">

<html lang="zh-Hant">

I believe that this is correct as recommended by the w3c: [w3.org...]

I have two Chinese websites, so I have to differentiate between them.
6:58 am on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for answering!

You see when I do a search on Google for the term 'hreflang="cn" it returns many results(including this post)

I went further and picked Google's own URL where they have used this language code.

Check the source of this page :http://support.google.com/chrome/?hl=en#topic=14680
7:03 am on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thank you!
But isn't it "zh-CN" for Chinese simplified? Or it's how it's written all over the web. So that I picked this one.

And, it looks like we could use 'zh' alone for both Simplified and Traditional as per this :http://www.w3schools.com/tags/ref_language_codes.asp

Also, would you please tell me about your two websites? Is there major difference in the contents? I mean being the same language only differs in whether simplified or traditional.

[edited by: shaunm at 7:08 am (utc) on Feb 8, 2013]

10:16 am on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

This is the list I use:

ISO language codes [sil.org]

.. which I now realize isn't the

Horse's Mouth version [iso.org]

... which in turn kicks you over to

the LOC [loc.gov]

Still don't see a cn, though.
12:32 pm on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Chinese simplified and Chinese traditional are two different writing systems for the same language. The writing system was simplified by the Chinese government, but places outside China that speak Chinese (Taiwan) did not adopt the new writing system. It would be like we changed the spelling of every English word to make the rules more regular. Here is a poem about Winter in a simplified English spelling called Spelwel: Wen aysikqlz hang bai jq wool And Dik jq sheprd blowz hiz neyl And Tom berz logz intw jq hool....

The result of this is that many Chinese people can read only one or the other, even though these people could speak to each other fine. So you need two websites to be able to reach all Chinese people who can read.

The contents of my two Chinese websites are the same in so far as the contents is also the same as my English, French, German, and Spanish websites. However, it has been translated by two different people into two different writing systems.
12:48 pm on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have no idea what the first links are talking about :D What language codes are they, I mean where are they being used? As for the last link, it's good. But what do you think about that Google page?

Thank you so much!
8:19 pm on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

All I know about Google and languages is that

(1) they have said repeatedly that they do not look at the <lang = "xyz"> attribute when determining what language a page is in


(2) if the formulations shown in the in-progress parts of Google In Your Language* represent their current level of knowledge of how languages work, then they are long overdue for bringing on some linguists to join the techno-geeks and the Human Resources person.

* Find the site, pick any in-progress language-- it does not have to be a language you know-- and ask for a few sample bits to work on. You can only get one piece at a time, but you can throw them back unchanged.

:: sitting on hands to avert impending rant ::

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