While there are many applications of the HREFLang Element, it was designed to do one thing, tell the search engine YOUR preference for the desired content to be shown to a language-specific audience.
Even the mighty Google makes mistakes when matching users to content in their own search engine. While you cannot guarantee this is the page that will actually be shone, it is the strongest signal you can possible give the search engine to help them determine which is correct.
Key Applications of the HREFLang Element
- Ensure Local Market Content is correctly Represented - This is the main benefit of using the HREFLang Element. It allows you to tell Google that that page is specific to India or Australia. This helps ensure your product page with local pricing, offers and contact information is correct for that market.
- Identify Global and Regional Language Content - To help the search engine understand what is global English or Spanish content from what is local market specific content. This is helpful to a English or Spanish searcher traveling in another country that is looking for support information. For example, I was Paris France and wanted to find the what time the Hertz car rental office closed. I did my search in English and was able to get a global English page that had the closing times and phone numbers along with the French page.
- Ensure Local Market Home Pages are Represented Correctly - To ensure when a brand name search is done the local market home page is represented in the search engine vs. a global or more dominate market language page.
- Enable the Global use of Dot-com domains - For many companies managing local market ccTLD domains for all of their markets is cost prohibitive. By using a .com domain with country/language directories and the HREFLang Element you can reduce your costs and have proper representation in the local markets.
- Help Support Legal Case on Local Licenses - companies have been sued by partners for not adequately representing their relationships in specific markets. In addition, you can potentially limit your exposure in markets where you should not be seen due to sales rights and other legal issues. The use of the HREFLang is strong support of your case that you made an effort to segment and isolate content for specific markets.
There are my more applications of the HREFLang Element that we will cover on the blog and on this page over time but for now, using the tool to help the search engines match the correct content to your target market is the best application of all.