International Targeting for SEO Using Hreflang Tags

welocalize January 9, 2017

476835145We are constantly looking for new ways of providing clients the best service when it comes to international SEO (search engine optimization), which is increasingly technical SEO. One thing that crops up time and time again is the need to assess Hreflang tag architecture. When dealing with global sites that operate across multiple language markets, use of Hreflang tags is a common tool used in global SEO.

Hreflang tags are a piece of HTML code which, while invisible to users, inform Google how different pieces of locally targeted content relate to one another. In order for search engines to understand the relationship between translated pieces of content, deploying Hreflang logic on your site is a must. It is critical whether it is applied via the traditional Hreflang tag method, or the slightly more modern Hreflang sitemap deployment. Without Hreflang logic in place, we have seen many instances of non-local content ranking in local search engines.

Suppose for a second that you have a very similar piece of content for the United Kingdom, United States and Australia, all on separate URLs and subtly targeted to the nomenclature, or currencies, of those specific markets. For example: AND AND Without actively telling Google that these URLs are related, there is no steadfast way to ensure it will only rank UK URLs in, USA URLs in or AU URLs in This can lead to potential customers landing on non-local content. At best, this provides a poor user experience and at worst, can completely prevent a potential conversion. Applying rigor with international targeting in organic search, and certainty of correct Hreflang deployment, is a must when operating across multiple markets and languages.

Google Search Console provides a read out on the health of your Hreflang deployment, pinpointing where there are areas that are not back referencing pages correctly. However, you don’t often have the luxury of access to Search Console if it’s a new client prospect or a competitor site. When we’re working on a client solution at Adapt, we intrinsically trust and prioritize data that we produce ourselves. This is because we can completely attest to its accuracy and roll it out on any site required. We build our own tools to address issues such as data availability on new client prospects and competitors, which allows us to scale analysis and insight around our own data.

You can download the Adapt Worldwide Hreflang Tag Checker browser plugin for free here.

Adapt Worldwide Hreflang Tag Checker

The Adapt Worldwide Hreflang Tag Checker is designed to automate the process of checking a site’s Hreflang tag deployment. The tool takes a readout of a URL’s Hreflang tags and then crawls them to assess if they back reference your current URL. This allows you to get a reliable snapshot of a website’s international targeting in terms of where it is operating, whilst assessing if it is targeting these territories correctly from an organic search perspective.

This tool saves precious time and resource when it comes to analyzing and optimizing international sites. The accessibility of the Adapt Worldwide Hreflang Tag Checker demonstrates our passion and commitment to the global digital industry for providing solutions to complex problems relating to global search optimization.

Please do let us know if there are additional features you think would be worthwhile to add. We’re always looking for new ways of streamlining processes and creating tools for optimizing websites for organic search. Feedback and suggestions are always welcome!


Based in London, Toby Neilson is Senior SEO Manager at Adapt Worldwide.