On the 15th of February I decided to translate two pages of one site to 5 languages: - Russian - Korean - Chinese Simplified - Spanish

Now I get what appears to me to be contradictory results.

es language suddenly went down to nearly null, but es-es went up quite a lot. (And the rest of spanish speaking countries kept almost he same or went up, such as es-mx, es-ar, es-us, es-419, es-cl etc)

How can we explain this? Isn't es the total combination of all spanish languages from different countries?

Big drown down on es:

enter image description here

Big raise on es-es:

enter image description here

I'm experimenting exactly the same with Russian ru which went down quite a lot while ru-ru went up like crazy.

The site uses es, ru, ko, en, zh-Hans in the following lang tag depending on which language version of the site is:

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" lang="en">

I'm also using 5 rel="alternate" in all 5 versions of the site. Each pointing to the alternate language.

<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/page/" hreflang="en">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/page/zh/" hreflang="zh">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/page/ko/" hreflang="ko">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/page/es/" hreflang="es">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/page/ru/" hreflang="ru">

Interesting also that I saw the same exact decrement in visits in some other languages for which I have no translation, such as de or fr, while I saw the same increase in de-de and fr-fr.

But it is not something happening in all other languages, for example, ja (japanese) stays the same, even tho I have no translation for it either.


Here's the graphic for the de and de-de languages. Remember, my site is NOT translated to german, and Germany is practically only spoken in Germany:

de enter image description here


enter image description here

And here are the ones for Italian, also not very spoken outside Italy:

it goes down almost disappearing: enter image description here

it-it goes up quite a lot: enter image description here

And here's the plot of both rows at the same time for de and de-de: enter image description here

Here's another interesting graph regarding korean (only spoken in North and South Korea), where suddenly, all Korean browsers start reporting the country bit? Makes me wonder... could all this be due to a new versions of lets say, Chrome browser? That starts reporting things that didn't before?

Anyone with any Google Analytics account can verify they are having the same results as me?

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


Isn't es the total combination of all spanish languages from different countries?

No. Google Analytics is reporting the exact browser language settings of each visitor. So for any given Spanish-language page, you will most likely see a mix of reported browser languages, e.g. es, es-ES, es-US.

Because there's no y-axis visible on your screenshots, it's hard to say exactly what's happening. But based on my experience, it's this:

  • When you had no translated pages, your site got a mix of browser languages - mostly variants of en. But some es, ru, etc.
  • Once you created the Spanish version with the correct hreflang tags, Google gave a big boost to that page for searchers using Google.es.
  • Your Spanish page has no region targetting -- you're using the generic catchall hreflang="es". However your visitors do have the regional information set in their browser, so you see the big increase in es-ES.
  • Hopefully, the increase in es-* traffic is greater than the decline in es generic traffic. But this can't be determined from your screenshots. Everything looks to be working as designed though.
  • I've updated my question with new charts with Y axes and German language, one for which I have not added translation in my site and which is practically only spoken in Germany. As I said, the same happens with other languages like French and Italian.
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 17:36
  • Interesting the Korean case...
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 19:17

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