Definition of Hreflang

Through our SEO Agency Optimize 360

on the theme of International SEO

L'Hreflang is a key attribute for international referencing of a website.

It allows search engines such as Google identify the language and region targeted by a page, helping to improve its positioning in search results for the users concerned.

In this article, we will define the Hreflang and examine its main functions to better understand how it can be used effectively to optimise a multilingual website.



What is Hreflang?

Hreflang is an attribute HTML which tells search engines the language and geographical region associated with a particular web page.

It has been added to the  or <a> tags on a page to help search engines understand the relationships between different language and regional versions of a site.

Using this attribute ensures that the right content is displayed according to the language and regional preferences of each user.

How does Hreflang work in the context of SEO?

Using the Hreflang attribute correctly can have several benefits for a site's SEO:

  • Reduce duplicate content
  • Improve the site's visibility in local and international searches
  • Increase traffic from targeted regions or groups of speakers of a specific language
  • Reducing bounce rate resulting from content that does not meet users' linguistic expectations

Using Hreflang: Format and basic syntax

To implement the Hreflang attribute, you need to add a link with this attribute to the  section of each page concerned. Here's how it's done:


Le language code must conform to the ISO 639-1 format (for example, "fr" for French) and the country code must follow the ISO 3166-1 Alpha-2 standard (for example, "CA" for Canada). L'URL-of-the-alternative-version must point to the location of the alternative version of the page.

Example of use

Let's say you have a website that offers content in three languages: French (FR), English (US) and Spanish (ES).

      • The French version of the home page will have these tags in the head :
      • The English version :
      • And finally, the Spanish version:

Key functions of Hreflang in the context of SEO

Serving the right content to international users

One of the main functions of Hreflang is to help search engines display the best version of a page for a user according to their language and/or region. This can help to improveuser experience and increase the relevance of the traffic arriving on your site.

Solving duplicate content problems

Some multilingual sites can run into duplicate content problems if their different language versions are not properly flagged up. Using the Ahreflang attribute allows search engines to understand that similar pages in different languages are actually alternative versions of the same page, and not duplicate content.

Improving the site's positioning in different countries and languages

Having a well-constructed and indexed multilingual website helps to improve the visibility of your site in other markets. By using Ahreflang correctly, your site will be more likely to appear in the appropriate search results for users who speak the target language or are located in the target region.

Best practice for using Hreflang

  • Check your codes:¬†Make sure that the language and country codes are correctly formatted and correspond to ISO 639-1 and ISO 3166-1 Alpha-2, respectively.

  • Use self-referencing: Include a Hreflang tag for each language/regional version of a page, including that of the current page. This clearly shows search engines the relationships between all available versions.

  • Keep your site well organised:¬†Adopt a clean, legible directory structure to separate the different language and regional versions of your site.
    This makes it easier for your visitors to navigate and also contributes to better referencing.

In short, the use of Hreflang is an essential element in optimising a multilingual website and ensuring an effective online presence in several markets.

By taking the time to understand and implement this attribute correctly on your own site, you can greatly improve the user experience of your international visitors while boosting your SEO.

blank Digital Performance Accelerator for SMEs