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  • Writer's pictureBrent Payne

Hreflang annotation also x-default

It's observed that the given URL is designated as an alternate via hreflang and is simultaneously set as the x-default hreflang.


Why is this important?

Hreflang attributes guide search engines to display the appropriate country or language specific pages in search results. Being precise, hreflang tags have a clear interpretation. The 'x-default' hreflang value is meant to signify a catch-all page for users from any language or region.


A common scenario is utilizing an 'x-default' hreflang for a main page displaying a language or country selection prompt.


Google's official communication provides an example of this approach in their blog post:


The conventional configuration entails an 'x-default' page not targeting a specific language or locale. This is inline with Google's only illustrated example.


Setting a page to target a particular locale or language, while also marking it as 'x-default' hreflang, is possible and correct. This indicates the page serves both as the intended page for that market and as a contingency when no other pages fit.

Notwithstanding, such attributions could be mistakenly set, leading to an inappropriate fallback page. For instance, English may serve as an all-encompassing fallback due to widespread familiarity, in contrast to Welsh which is less commonly spoken globally.


What does the Optimization check?

The Optimization is activated when any URL is specified as an hreflang alternate and is also tagged as the x-default.


Examples that trigger this Optimization:


This Optimization is prompted by the URL if it includes the following hreflang tags:

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


Why is this Optimization marked 'Insight'?

Being categorized as an 'Insight', this Optimization is more of a focal point for your consideration rather than a matter requiring immediate correction. A hreflang page having an 'x-default' tag is quite normal, so it doesn't necessarily mandate concern.


However, evaluating whether this setup is congruent with your site's global markets is suggested. Should the 'x-default' be deemed inapt, you might have to eliminate the x-default tag, nominate an alternative default, or design an impartial 'country selector' as seen in the initial instance.


Further Reading

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