Can hreflang be placed on the body of the HTML? Or has it to be in the head?

I can't find clear information about this.

  • 1
    It's clear as day if you read the specification.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 14:43

3 Answers 3


Google supports:

Using <link rel="alternate" href="#" hreflang="en-ie" /> within the <body>and not the <head>, testing it in W3C validator fails and reports the following:


A link element must not appear as a descendant of a body element unless the link element has an itemprop attribute or has a rel attribute whose value contains dns-prefetch, pingback, preconnect, prefetch, preload, prerender, or stylesheet

It has been mentioned by Rob and Boldewyn, in both answers and comments that hreflang can be used within a <a>, since these tags are allowed within the body. This is true and both users make good points, however...

It can be very complex using hreflang within <a> and its unclear if its supported by Google:

  1. You need to make all links to page use the markup, so if you have many articles interlinking one another, it can become complex, very complex if having more than 2 language options. Adding markup to the page rather than links is less complex because you simply do a GET URL and plant that variable into link canonical, link hreflang, Facebook opengraph, Twitter cards etc.
  2. The main issue however is Google's Search Console Help mentions nothing of using <a> for Multiple languages, this isn't to say its not supported, its just that I can say for sure it is.

Google specific says it supports:

HTML link element in header. In the HTML section of http://www.example.com/, add a link element pointing to the Spanish version of that webpage at http://es.example.com/, like this:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="http://es.example.com/" />

HTTP header. If you publish non-HTML files (like PDFs), you can use an HTTP header to indicate a different language version of a URL:

<http://es.example.com/>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="es"

To specify multiple hreflang values in a Link HTTP header, separate the values with commas like so:

<http://es.example.com/>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="es">, <http://de.example.com/>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="de">

Sitemap. Instead of using markup, you can submit language version information in a Sitemap.

I recommend that you verify your MARKUP on-going using W3C validator, for example using this direct input code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <title>Simon Hayter Rocks!</title>
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="example.css">
    <script src="example.js"></script>
    <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-ie" hreflang="en-ie" />
  • 2
    This is not true. You can place @hreflang equally well on <a> elements. The specification: html.spec.whatwg.org/multipage/…
    – Boldewyn
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 13:55
  • And the W3C version: w3.org/TR/html5/textlevel-semantics.html#the-a-element
    – Boldewyn
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 13:56
  • 1
    @Boldewyn Browser vendors have all defected to WHATWG, for HTML at least, unfortunately. Use WHATWG as a reference.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 14:41
  • @Rob Google supports <head><link></head>, HTTP Header or Sitemap and at no point does it say it will support BCP 47 tags. Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 17:01
  • @Rob updated answer Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 17:27


The only Link elements permitted in the <body> section are ones that are specified in the 'body-ok' list. You can find a copy of the table here: https://www.w3.org/TR/html5/links.html#body-ok


You can use hreflang as attribute on both <link> elements and <a> elements exclusively. So, in a nutshell, no, you cannot short-circuit by putting hreflang on the <body> (like you could, e.g., with <base> for relative URLs).

Example in the page header, referencing an alternate language version for search engines:

  <link rel="alternate" href="?lang=en" hreflang="en">

Example in the page body, clickable by users:

  <a rel="alternate" href="?lang=en" hreflang="en">View this information in English</a>
  • The area element can also have the hreflang attribute.
    – unor
    Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 19:21

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