Jackie Chu, whose been the Sr. SEO and ASO Manager at Square and SEO Intel. Leader for Uber (to name a few) stopped by MozCon 2021 to highlight the importance of internalization. While this amazing presentation went deep into this topic, we’re going to outline some of the highlights and main sticking points we can all benefit from.
Jackie outlined that while the hreflang (the attribute that tells Google what language your site is in and some GEO specifics) is a simple concept, implementation isn’t so easy. hreflang can be one of the most complicated SEO aspects, and when done incorrectly, you won’t even rank for your own keywords.
In her presentation, she highlights some details of what you need, but here’s her example for Canadian English (Country + Language):
<link rel=”alternate”hreflang= “en-ca”href=“https://yoursitee.com/ca/en/”/>
It should be noted that not every site will need a country designation. This may apply to international SaaS sites where countries will have the same features across the board. Utilizing such programs such as Screaming Frog, Lighthouse, and Search Console is a great way to test out your hreflang.
Be sure that your hreflang have a standard URL pattern; sets must canonicalize themselves. Also, be certain to target a global language or a country and language (as discussed above).
The first mistake Jackie pointed out was to always ensure that content has unique URLs. While this may seem obvious, it does get overlooked quite often.
The second mentioned was not to use four-letter lang codes; Chinese is the only language that has four-letter lang codes.
Failure to differentiate content and not making them substantially different is another common mistake that is made (and avoidable).
Always differentiate your metadata by highlighting its country (example: Disney.com vs. Disney UK). Along these lines, it was also mentioned to always include the correct NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) info, as well as local/GEO info to all social media handles.
When possible, always start with the country in the slug: yourwebsite.com/ca/en/
Hyphens are your friends, but never use underscores. Lastly, utilize ISO codes that follow the web norms.
Another easy aspect to overlook, but one that is important, is your site’s photos…and people. Always be sure to have updated and GEO-relevant photos up on your site that actually reflect the country/region they are supposed to be in.
If there is one thing this great MozCon presentation showed us, it’s the importance of keeping up to date on your site and overall digital marketing. One missing link can throw your entire site or rankings off.