What are hreflang Tags? How to Add hreflang Tags?

Are you creating a website that supports several languages and regions? A bilingual website may dramatically increase your potential audience, but it can also be tough to administer.

The good news is that Hreflang tags can help your website’s Search Engine Optimisation Sand User Experience (UX). It’s not difficult to execute, and you’ll see a spike in traffic and interaction soon.

We’ll review what hreflang tags are and some recommended practices for using them. We’ll next go over how to add hreflang tags. 

Let us get to work!

What is a Hreflang tag?


Hreflang tags are a link tag property in HTML that allows websites to offer information tailored to visitors in various nations and languages.

When viewing the page source of any particular online document, the first tag you’ll frequently notice is this:

<html lang=”en”>

The language property indicates that this webpage prioritizes English material for an English-speaking audience over search.

However, if a website wished to target French-speaking viewers in France, they may add a hreflang property at the head of their HTML, as seen below. Let’s break this down for better comprehension.

Essentially, a hreflang string comprises of three crucial components:

The rel=alternative attribute: indicates that this webpage is an alternate version of the original web page, not the canonical one.

The href= attribute: informs Google of the original URL of the substitute web page.

hreflang= attributes: This tag identifies the language and nation this web page is intended for.

In the above example, the alternative tag indicated that the URL https://fr.example.com was the principal English web page’s alternate.

French speakers in France were intended to be the audience for the homepage, as indicated by the end of the tag.

  • In addition, webmasters might construct an alternate page for English speakers in France by changing the hreflang property to hreflang=”en-fr”, indicating that this page is for English speakers in France.
  • A thorough hreflang implementation enables you to be more specific with geo-targeting and provide local content to users all across the world.

How to Add hreflang Tags in WordPress?

hreflang tags

hreflang tags are extremely useful on WordPress websites, but only when used correctly. There are three techniques for adding these tags to your website. 

Plugins are the simplest and most popular technique. You may, however, adjust your website’s header and XML sitemap. Let’s look at all three approaches. 

a. hreflang WordPress Plugins

The simplest technique for implementing hreflang is to utilize a WordPress plugin. Plugins such as MultilingualPress automatically add hreflang tags and should not create any performance issues:

In the post editor, you can access the MultilingualPress translation tool. When you approve a translation, the plugin inserts the corresponding hreflang tags into your site’s header. 

  • The functions of translation are not restricted to articles only; they extend to tags, and categories, and seamlessly integrate with plugins like Yoast and WooCommerce.
  • Another plugin option for hreflang implementation is Polylang.
  • It is a popular, free solution for managing WordPress websites in various languages.
  • You may produce material as normal and then specify a language for it.
  • After that, it will handle the hreflang tags for you.

b. Add hreflang to <head>

You may add these tags to your WordPress website without using a plugin by modifying the header.php file. To access this file, go to Appearance > Theme Editor or utilize File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

After opening the file, look for the opener and paste the following code:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://example.com/content”/>

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x-default” href=”http://example.com/content”/>

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-us” href=”http://example.com/content”/>

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-es” href=”http://example.com/es/content”/>

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr-fr” href=”http://example.com/fr/content”/>

In this example, we must insert the tags into the English language material. The x-default and English hreflang tags also link to the English content page.

The Spanish and French hreflang tags, on the other hand, send visitors to the page’s correct language version. Of course, you may include additional hreflang tags for any other languages used on your website.

c. Add hreflang to your WordPress XML Sitemap

If you do not want to alter your header.php file, you may instead update your site’s XML sitemap. 

Using this strategy assures that Google can identify and correctly index your alternate-language sites. Updating your sitemap decreases the size of your web pages, resulting in quicker loading times. The hreflang tags for your XML sitemap vary slightly:



<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-es” href=”http//www.example.com/es/content”/>

<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr-fr” href=”http//www.example.com/fr/content”/>




<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-us” href=”http//www.example.com/content”/>

<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr-fr” href=”http//www.example.com/fr/content”/>



<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es-es” href=”http//www.example.com/es/content”/>

<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr-fr” href=”http//www.example.com/fr/content”/>




<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-us” href=”http//www.example.com/content”/>

<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr-fr” href=”http//www.example.com/fr/content”/>


While changing your XML sitemap aids in indexing, it may also get difficult. If you have a huge website, your sitemap may grow bloated. 

Adding hreflang tags to the sitemap may also take longer than utilizing the other approaches mentioned above.

Why are hreflang tags important in international SEO?

a. Hreflang SEO Helps to Signal Web Page Relevance

The hreflang tag indicates to Google which versions of your web pages are most relevant for specific search queries. It also indicates how high Google should position these pages in search results.

Here’s how it works.

  • Hreflang tags inform Google that a webpage has many language and regional versions.
  • They give a link to that webpage.
  • They identify the language and area of the specific version that Google is investigating.

Using this information, Google calculates which version of the web page is most relevant to searchers with certain language or geographic preferences. Users from Japan may find that your web page is intended for them with the use of a hreflang tag.

When Google finds the hreflang element, it considers the web page to be particularly relevant to Japanese visitors and may rank it higher in searches from Japan, resulting in increased exposure and hits.

Consider the case when your website lacks a hreflang tag. In this instance, Google may choose to offer it to Japanese searchers regardless. However, if your website is in English, a Japanese searcher may be less interested in reading it and more likely to leave (or “bounce”) immediately after landing on it.

As a result, Google will analyze this user behavior and determine that your website is less relevant to Japanese searchers. As a result, your website may not rank as high or receive as much traffic from future Japanese search inquiries.

b. Hreflang Tags Can Help you Avoid Duplicate Content Penalties

duplicate content

When developing language and regional versions of your web pages, you may translate their contents into multiple languages, resulting in pages with extremely distinct content.

In contrast, certain language variations, such as pages in English for American and British audiences, may simply require small content modifications in the same language. The result is a website with pages that have extremely identical material.

This might lead to duplicate content difficulties because Google’s strategy is to try to offer web pages with unique material to searchers. If it finds websites with duplicate material, it may choose to rank only one of them.

Or, if Google feels that the website owner is attempting to influence their search rankings, Google may elect not to rank any of the web pages. 

  • Needless to say, all of this will make it difficult for you to drive searches to your website.
  • Fortunately, you may avoid duplicate content penalties by using hreflang tags.
  • You notify Google that your web pages with hreflang tags are intended for different audiences and should not be considered identical content.

c. Hreflang Tags are Not Directives

However, be careful that hreflang tags are not directives.

Google may not necessarily show the web page version you want you them to see, despite proper hreflang implementation helping Google determine the most relevant version for searchers.

That’s because Google may also consider other SEO variables when deciding on the relevancy of a web page (and consequently how high to rank it) for any specific search query. 

Examples of these characteristics are your website’s load time, mobile friendliness, and domain authority.

The user’s Google search preferences can influence the results. Users surfing from France with English as their language selection will, for the most part, get search results in English rather than French.

  • Of course, this does not imply that you should ignore hreflang and SEO best practices entirely. 
  • As previously established, hreflang tags are vital because they indicate which web pages are most suitable for specific search queries.
  • Then, when your web page meets a searcher’s intent (that is, it fulfills the user’s principal purpose when searching a query in a search engine).
  • Google will recognize that your web page is particularly relevant for that specific search. It may then rank it higher for similar queries in the future.

Useful tools for implementing hreflang

implementing hreflang

Now that you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably thinking, “Wow, this is hard!” We know; that’s what we thought when we first learned about it. Fortunately, there are several tools accessible if you want to start adopting hreflang.

a. hreflang Tag Generator

Aleyda Solis, who has written extensively about this subject, has produced a useful hreflang tag generator that allows you to build link elements. Even if you’re not utilizing a link element implementation, this might be beneficial for creating some sample code.

b. hreflang Tag Checker

We recommend two tools for ensuring that the hreflang tags on your website or in your XML Sitemap are proper. Merkle offers the hreflang Tags Testing Tool, which allows you to quickly input a URL.

In addition, you may utilize a Chrome extension while browsing a page. The program reads a page’s hreflang tags and scans them to see if they link back to your current URL. You can obtain the Hreflang Tag Checker from the Chrome Web Store.


If you have a website with stuff in various languages, hreflang tags will assist Google in delivering the correct pages to the appropriate users. 

Fortunately, various ways show you how to add hreflang tags, with the most straightforward being to install a specialized plugin.

Using hreflang tags is a fantastic method for supporting search engines in providing the appropriate page results to visitors looking in different languages and areas. 

By effectively employing hreflang, you may eliminate duplicate content concerns, enhance the user experience, and provide your content with a significant worldwide SEO boost

One final point to consider is that integrating hreflang properties necessitates meticulous attention to detail. Even the tiniest error can result in lost ranks and duplication, but performing it right can yield little benefits for both websites and visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the significance of the hreflang tag?

The hreflang tag indicates to Google which versions of your web pages are most relevant for specific search queries. It also indicates how high Google should position these pages in search results. Here’s how it works. Hreflang tags inform Google that a webpage has several language and regional variations.

2. What is the full form of “href”?

href stands for hypertext reference. It is the source of the tag’s file. You may use both not just to connect an external CSS file, but also to use tags as a conventional hyperlink.

3. Does Bing employ hreflang?

Bing does not use hreflang tags; instead, it relies on language meta tags to determine the relevance of web pages in terms of regions and languages.

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