What is international targeting?
If you manage one or more websites designed for users in a specific country speaking a specific language, you want to make sure that search results display the relevant language and country version of your pages. To ensure that your content reaches the correct audience, you will use two general mechanisms:
- URL-level targeting
You can use three implementation mechanisms for this:
- Page-level markup
Use the <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” href=”alternateURL“> tag in the <head> section of your pages to list alternate language versions for each page. Each page should provide a hreflang tag that links to all other language variants of itself, as well as a tag that refers back to itself. For more granular targeting, you can use the hreflang attribute to indicate language and country combinations (e.g. en-ie, en-ca, en-us). Read more about the hreflang tag in our Content guidelines section.
You can use sitemaps to submit language and regional alternates for your pages. Read more aboutusing a sitemap to indicate alternate language pages in our Content guidelines section.
- HTTP headers
If you publish non-HTML files (like PDFs), you can use an HTTP header to indicate a different language version of a URL.
- Page-level markup
- Site-wide targeting
In addition making sure your site URLs map to alternate language variants, you will also likely use geographic-specific domains or configure your entire site structure to deliver content to a specific geographic and language preference. To learn more, read the best practices as explained in Multi-regional and multilingual sites in our Content guidelines.
Once you have configured multi-language or multi-regional sites and pages, you can use two sections in the International targeting pages to keep your international presence healthy:
- The Language section—this helps you ensure your hreflang tags use the correct locale codes (language and optional country). More commonly, you can make sure that alternate pages have tags that link back to the pages for your site.
- The Countrysection—you can use this tool to set a site-wide country target for your entire site, if necessary.
In continue with SEO services San Diego you learn how can set language in international targeting.
Monitor hreflang tags across your sites
The Language section of the International Targeting page provides a bird’s eye view on errors from hreflang links throughout your site. When you set up hreflang tags, Google finds them on your site and eventually crawls the corresponding URLs referred to by the tags, reporting errors on the originating pages and missing return links on the destination pages once they are crawled this is a normal tag that SEO services San Diego use for the customer. This helps you maintain a healthy international presence so that search results for your visitors display the language and country variant you want them to see. For example, if you manage three international sites and you want to monitor errors for the Spanish site, you’d choose the Spanish version from the site selector (e.g. www.example.es) to see all language variants for that site with return errors.
This page displays two common errors in multi-regional sites:
- Missing return tags from alternate language codes
For every language code and alternate URL you indicate with anhreflang tag, Google ensures that the alternate page has a return tag that links back to the page on your site.
- Unknown language codes
Google shows when you use an incorrect or unknown language code in yourhreflang
The report graph
You can mouse over the lines in the graph to see the total hreflang tags Google found on the selected site (blue line) and the number of hreflang tags that suffer from errors (red line).
No return tags
This error is the most common error for international sites. For each language code you provide, the table lists a total count of alternate pages that have no return tag linking back to the selected site. The table aggregates missing return tag by implementation and locale:
- Page-level— the total number of hreflang errors by language in the <head> section of your pages.
- Sitemap— the total number of hreflang errors found in your sitemap.
- HTTP headers— the total number of hreflang errors for alternate files provided in your HTTP header configuration.
You can click on an error to inspect details for that locale. For page-level tags, the detail report shows a maximum of 1,000 URLs on your site, paired with the alternate-language page that’s missing a return tag to its mate. For sitemap details, the report lists the sitemap that indicates the URL pairing and the alternate URL that has no return link. For HTTP headers, the detail page indicates the configuration and alternate URL with no return link. As with page-level errors, the detail page shows a maximum of 1,000 URLs with missing return tags.
Unknown language code
For unknown language (and optional country) codes that you have indicated in your site, the table displays the locale followed by unknown language code. As with the no return tag error, you can drill down to see URL-level details and total counts of unknown language codes for that specific locale.
Target your search results to a specific country
Google Search returns the most relevant and useful sites for a user. Because of this, search results can differ between a user in Ireland and a user in France.
If your site has a generic top-level domain, such as .com or .org, you can help us determine which countries are most important to you. If your site has a country-coded top-level domain (such as .ie or .fr) it is already associated with a geographic region (in this example, Ireland or France). If you use a country-coded domain, you won’t be able to specify a geographic location. You can specify a target country in the International Targeting report.
Set a country target
- On the International Targeting report, click the Country
- Check the Geographic target checkbox and choose your country target. If you want to ensure that your site is not associated with any country or region, select Unlisted in the drop-down list.
This setting is only for geographic data. If you’re targeting users in different locations—for example, if you have a site in French that you want users in France, Canada, and Mali to read—don’t use this tool to set France as a geographic target. A good example of where it would be useful is for a restaurant website: if the restaurant is in Canada, it’s probably not of interest to folks in France. But if your content is in French and is of interest to people in multiple countries/regions, it’s probably better not to restrict it.
How do we determine location without Search Console?
If no information is entered in Search Console, Google relies largely on the site’s country domain (such as .ca, .de). If you use an international domain (.com, .org, .eu), we’ll rely on several signals, including IP address, location information on the page, links to the page, and any relevant information from Google My Business. If you change hosting provider for a country domain, there should be no impact. If you change the hosting provider of an international domain to a provider in another country, we recommend using Search Console to tell us which country your site should be associated with.
More about domain determination
Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are domains that aren’t associated with specific locations. If your site has a generic top-level domain such as .com, .org, or any of the domains listed below, and wants to target users in a particular geographic location, you should set a country target.
Google treats the following as gTLDs that can be geotargeted in Search Console:
- Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs): Unless a top level domain is registered as a country code top level domain(ccTLD) with ICANN, Google will treat any TLD that resolves through the IANA DNS root zone as a gTLD.
- Generic regional top-level domains: Although these domains are associated with a geographical region, they are generally treated as generic top-level domains (much like .com or .org):
- Generic Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs): Google treats some ccTLDs (such as .tv, .me, etc.) as gTLDs, as we’ve found that users and webmasters frequently see these more generic than country-targeted. Here is a list of those ccTLDs (this list may change over time).