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  • Writer's pictureBrent Payne

Has invalid outgoing hreflang annotations

The current page has one or more outbound hreflang tags that are considered incorrect, such as non-conforming language or region codes.


Why is this important?

Outbound hreflang tags must match specific values to indicate language and optional regional information for an alternative URL.

For instance, "en-gb" denotes the English language for the region of Great Britain.

A valid hreflang tag must adhere to these standards for search engines to acknowledge:

  • Language must be coded following the ISO 639-1 standard.

  • Region should be coded per the ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 standard.

  • A hyphen should divide language and region codes.

  • The region code cannot stand alone, unlike a language code.

  • Language codes come before region codes when both are used.

Noncompliant hreflang attributes will not be recognized by search engines.


What does the Optimization check?

This Optimization activates when any URL has at least one outbound hreflang annotation that is found to be invalid.


Note: This Optimization resembles 'Invalid incoming hreflang annotations' but focuses on tags included on the current page rather than the target URL of a hreflang tag.


Examples that trigger this Optimization:

Imagine the following URL: https://example.com/es/page-a/

This URL would prompt the Optimization if it features incorrect outbound hreflang like:

<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/en/page-a/" hreflang="en-uk" /><link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/de/page-a/" hreflang="de-de" />


(in this case "en-uk" is incorrect and should be "en-gb")


How do you resolve this issue?

Labeled 'Critical,' this Optimization indicates a major issue that can negatively impact organic search traffic. Address Critical issues with urgency.


To fix invalid hreflang annotations, first identify which of the 5 rules above was not met, then apply corrective measures to all problematic URLs.


How do you get more data from Loud Interactive?

The 'Hreflang Geotargeting' tab in the International section offers detailed invalid hreflang data.


The 'Valid' column will highlight non-compliant hreflang tags, while other columns provide additional data such as affected URL counts.


Here, we find errors with 'cn' and 'cz' hreflang values on multiple translated pages, where region codes are incorrectly used without language codes. To confirm correct codes, refer to this comprehensive list of country and language codes.


Further Reading

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