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Google Introduces X-default hreflang for International Landing Pages

     
10:03 am on Apr 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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...introduce a new rel-alternate-hreflang annotation that the webmaster can use to specify such homepages that is supported by both Google and Yandex.Google Introduces X-default hreflang for International Landing Pages [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk]
http://example.com/en-gb: For English-speaking users in the UK
http://example.com/en-us: For English-speaking users in the USA
http://example.com/en-au: For English-speaking users in Australia
http://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="http://example.com/en-gb" hreflang="en-gb" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-us" hreflang="en-us" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-au" hreflang="en-au" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/" hreflang="x-default" />

The new x-default hreflang attribute value signals to our algorithms that this page doesnít 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 userís perceived geolocation or the Accept-Language headers. The x-default hreflang value signals to our algorithms that such a page doesnít target a specific language or locale.
10:26 pm on Apr 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Hmmm.... I am wondering if you can have two link rel alternates pointing to the same page, e.g.:

<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/de/" hreflang="de-DE" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/de/" hreflang="de-AT" />

Otherwise, by setting up hreflang="x-default" on English home page (which has language selections) will result in Austrans being served home page in English instead of in German... and then bye-bye CTR...
1:10 am on Apr 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Judging by the thread at google, you are not the only person to wonder. But the newly posted change applies only to the specific term "x-default". Other stuff involving "hreflang" was addressed earlier [support.google.com].

If you have several alternate URLs targeted at users with the same language but in different locales, it's a good idea to provide a generic URL for geographically unspecified users.

So if your assorted Germans all end up on the same page, there's no need to specify a region in the first place. Just 'hreflang="de"'. The region is always optional.