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I am confused about hreflang="x-default".

I have a site in 2 languages. In each page I have a link to the page itself and a link to the same page in the other language. If I understand correctly, I have to put an x-default also. In my case it goes to the page "language". There the user can see two buttons to choose the language of the site.

The x-default link is the same on all pages and it is present in all of them.

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://example.com/about" /> 
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="http://example.com/fr/about" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" href="http://example.com/language" />

I use Screaming Frog to detect possible errors. It says "Missing confirmation links in all the pages" when I see the details of the error. It makes reference only to the x-default link. I do not understand.

How to use the hreflang="x-default"?

  • Btw, you are missing the closing quote on href="http://example.com/language. – MrWhite Mar 11 '17 at 19:31
  • This question would seem to be a continuation of this earlier question: How to use hreflang x-default – MrWhite Mar 22 '17 at 15:19
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The x-default link is the same in all the pages and it is present in all of them.

That would seem to be "the problem".

The "Missing confirmation link" error is because the http://example.com/language page (source of x-default) does not contain a corresponding hreflang link back to the "about" page(s). The circular reference is not complete. If you are using the same x-default page for all your pages then this is clearly not possible.

In fact, Screaming Frog replied in a comment to a blog post:

Google describe it in their hreflang guidelines here – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/189077?hl=en

“Missing confirmation links: If page A links to page B, page B must link back to page A. If this is not the case for all pages that use hreflang annotations, those annotations may be ignored or not interpreted correctly.”

I have not seen anything that would suggest that x-default should be treated any differently to any other language hreflang value in terms of creating the appropriate confirmation/back link.

As I understand it, the x-default link should be used to refer to a default landing page or homepage on a multilingual site, not necessarily for every site page, unless you had a suitable default for every page. In your example you would need a specific default for the "about" page. Maybe you could do this by displaying the (default) "about" page with a more prominent language selection which could perhaps be accessible via a URL of the form http://example.com/about/language?

Otherwise... under what circumstances do you think Google would return a page that is only for language selection when the user has supposedly searched for and found the "about" page?

Personally, I don't think Google would even return the language selection page in the SERPs for such a search. If they did and the user was expecting an "about" page then that would be a bad user experience.

Further Reference:

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