Google Adds International Targeting Error Report

In a globally connected world, services and products are offered to various different regions and target groups. Therefore, most global brands now offer their website content in different languages. In order to deliver the correct language version in users’ search results Google has announced a new tool helping marketers troubleshoot their rel-alternate-hreflang annotations.

Google’s new error report feature can be accessed through Google’s Webmaster Tools and has now been fully released to the web. Hreflang annotations are used in order to communicate with Google informing the search engine about the relevant language version of a specific URL. Marketers are required to add the hreflang tags on each relevant site. Below are standard examples of hreflang code:

  • English: < link rel=”alternate” href=”” hreflang=”en” />
  • French: < link rel=”alternate” href=”” hreflang=”fr” />
  • Spanish: < link rel=”alternate” href=”” hreflang=”es” />

Quickly Identify Missing Return Links

Navigating to the International Targeting section of your Webmaster Tools now allows you to quickly identify missing return links. As hreflang annotations are based on cross-linking, it is crucial to understand hreflang tags’ functioning. In case webmasters decide to link from page A to different language versions they must also make sure to link from page B to page A. In order to enable Google to correctly understand that logic, return links must not be forgotten. With Google’s new error report feature, webmasters can now efficiently identify these missing return links and take immediate actions.

Screenshot: Google Webmaster Tools. Identifiy missing return links.

Screenshot: Google Webmaster Tools. Identifiy missing return links.

Checking for Correct Language Codes

There has been some confusion over the right language codes in the past. Google now reports which language codes the search engine could not process. Webmasters are advised to meet the following language code standards:

  • Language Code Standard ISO 639-1: de (German), ru (Russian), sv (Swedish), es (Spanish)
  • Language & Country Code Standard SO 3166-1 Alpha 2: es-AR (Spanish-Argentina)

For countries that have several official languages, webmasters are advised to consider the slightly more complex solution of Language+Country Code tags.

For further information please do not hesitate to reach out to’s SEO specialists.

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