If you have different language versions for your website or online shop, then you should use the rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” link attribute markup – as is recommended by Google. The value “x” is the country code according to ISO 639-1. By using the hreflang attribute you are telling Google exactly which language– and country-version to use for your shop or website.
The new x-default hreflang attribute value signals to our algorithms that this page doesn’t target any specific language or locale and is the default page when no other page is better suited.– Pierre Far, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst
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Using the new link-attribute hreflang=”x-default”, which Google introduced on 10.04.2013, you are now able to set up a default page for all language versions you did not explicitly specify.
This enables multilingual, international online shops to specify a default-page or -path for any language-region they did not explicitly designate beforehand.
Specific targeting of content per language version. For all other, not explicitly stated, language regions a default page has been set up:
Usage: The markup for the <head> part of the HTML document:
<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" />
- example.com/en-gb: For English-speaking users in the UK
- example.com/en-us: For English-speaking users in the USA
- example.com/en-au: For English-speaking users in Australia
- example.com/: The homepage may, for example, display a list of countries to chose from and is defined as default page for users worldwide
Alternatively, you can choose to send this reference through the HTTP-header. For this, please check out the example in our article: How should I handle my online-shop’s multilingual content?
The x-default hreflang link attribute is currently only officially supported by Google and Yandex.
The hreflang guide for international SEO
In our hreflang guide for international SEO you will learn everything you need to know about the proper handling of Google and multilingual websites. Avoid duplicate content and learn how to properly use the hreflang link attribute.
Video Explanation by Google on this topic
Expanding your site to more languages
Google covers best practices for expanding your site to new languages or country-based language variations. We discuss use cases of international sites and the implementation of rel=”alternate” hreflang.
Additional Sources By SISTRIX And Google about this topic: