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  • Writer's pictureBrent Payne

Invalid incoming hreflang annotations

This indicates that a particular URL has one or more incoming hreflang annotations that don't pass validation, such as a language or country code that isn't recognized.


Why is this important?

Hreflang annotations are utilized to flag alternate URLs for different languages or regions.


For instance, "en-gb" signifies the English language ('en') and Great Britain ('gb').

To be acknowledged by search engines, hreflang annotations must adhere to specific standards:

  • Language code must match the ISO 639-1 standard.

  • Country code must match the ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 standard.

  • Both codes should be separated by a hyphen.

  • The country code can't be used without a language code, although the language code may stand alone.

  • The language code should always precede the country code.

If your hreflang tags don't meet these criteria, search engines won't recognize them.


What does the Optimization check?

The Optimization will be activated for any URL that contains at least one flawed incoming hreflang reference.


Note: This Optimization is much alike to Has invalid outgoing hreflang annotations. Nevertheless, it focuses on the destination page of a hreflang annotation (incoming hreflang) instead of the source page (outgoing hreflang).


Examples that trigger this Optimization:

An invalid hreflang from another page would trigger this Optimization for the URL:


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


(Note that "en-uk" is incorrect - it should be "en-gb".)


How do you resolve this issue?

Labeled as 'Critical', an erroneous hreflang is a severe issue that might greatly influence organic search performance. It's crucial to address Critical issues promptly.


To remedy this, pinpoint which guideline your hreflang broke from the above list. Once identified, implement a site-wide fix for all affected URLs.


How do you get more data from Loud Interactive?

Although this Optimization is triggered, for comprehensive hreflang validation, consult the 'Hreflang Geotargeting' area under the International section.

A column marked 'Valid' will indicate which hreflangs are incorrect, with additional details, like total URLs impacted, available in other columns.


An observation might reveal that numerous translated pages have incorrect hreflang values due to the use of only region codes, which is not permissible. For example, 'cn' and 'cz' should represent 'China' and 'Czech Republic,' but these are not language codes, as 'cn' isn't linked with a specific language and Czech is represented by 'cs'.


Utilize this index of country and language codes for verification.


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