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I currently have a website that has issues with its language tags. There are currently two languages used on the website; French and English, along with a Canadian locale, but Google seems to show French pages on an English Google search. For instance, the About Us page shows both in French and in English in English search results, which I don't think is normal.

Looking through Google's pages on multi-regional/multilingual websites has only served to confuse me further.

I want to target my website for the canadian locale, but also show the same website to other french/english users throughout other locales.

Currently, It's working like this;

French page

<html>
<head>
  <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-ca" href="http://example.com/en-ca">
</head>

English page

<html>
<head>
  <link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr-ca" href="http://example.com/fr-ca">
</head>

I'm confused about whether or not I should use "x-default" as an alternate in some way, whether I should put the locale and the language in my URIs, as / redirects to /fr-ca, and if I should point "canonical" towards its proper language page.

I know that Google doesn't care about the lang attribute on the html tag, they very clearly state so in this page; https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/182192?hl=en&ref_topic=2370587#1

I'm assuming this is how I should do it;

French Page

<html lang="fr">
<head>
  <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://example.com/en">
  <link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com">
</head>

English Page

<html lang="en">
<head>
  <link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="http://example.com">
  <link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/en">
</head>

What would be the proper way of getting this done?

  • You say that you want to "target the site to Canada, but show it throughout the world" -- You need to create separate sites for canada targeting and rest of the world targeting. If you really want that you should have four sites: /en-ca, /en, /fr-ca, and /fr. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 14 '17 at 18:34
  • The canadian pages are exactly the same as the ones shown in the rest of the world. The website doesn't show any unique content to canadians at the moment, so I was wondering if it's even worth the hassle to have /en-ca and /fr-ca to begin with. I would rather reduce them to /en and /fr, and then have a hreflang to the language-locale, but have another hreflang to just language in case there are eventually pages for canadians. – Sefam Nov 14 '17 at 18:37
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Canonical tags are no longer needed in the mark up for multilingual sites. According to the Google Webmaster Central Blog New markup for multilingual content:

Update: to simplify implementation, we no longer recommend using rel=canonical.

According to the Google Webmaster Central Blog Introducing "x-default hreflang" for international landing pages:

The new x-default hreflang attribute value signals to our algorithms that this page doesn’t target any specific language or locale and is the default page when no other page is better suited. For example, it would be the page our algorithms try to show French-speaking searchers worldwide or English-speaking searchers on google.ca.

You can apply this The hreflang Tags Generator Tool.

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