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I'm doing SEO on my company's site. It's very big, with tens of thousands of pages, in 30+ languages.

We have hreflang & canonicals set up, and the structure is quite straightforward where each language is separated by a subdirectory.

The www version of the site is international, targeting and allowing access to users from all around the world. The only exception is the US - where we offer our services through a subdomain.

Currently, when entering the root www site, a user from the US is greeted with a pop-up offering to enter the US subdomain instead.

There's no redirection, hreflang, or canonical that connects the US site with the main one. The reason for this was mostly to maintain the separation and not hurt the main site by forwarding bots to crawl the subdomain instead.

The issue is, that in the US, the subdomain is still not ranking high enough despite the time passed since its launch. We're trying to change that, without hurting our main root www site.

Our /en/ subfolder is actually the same as /en-GB/ and serves as the default English site, wherever there's no other specific-to-country subfolder (such as en-AU or en-NL). This is also the default language and version of the site that is served by default to Bots originating from the US, and to make sure of that, the /en/ subfolder is also set to hreflang="en-US" as well.

Here's the current hreflang we have:

<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/cs/" hreflang="cs-CZ" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-CZ/" hreflang="en-CZ" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/nl/" hreflang="nl-NL" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-NL/" hreflang="en-NL" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-AU/" hreflang="en-AU" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/ar/" hreflang="ar" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/zh/" hreflang="zh" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/bg/" hreflang="bg-BG" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-BG/" hreflang="en-BG" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/da/" hreflang="da-DK" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-DK/" hreflang="en-DK" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/de-AT/" hreflang="de-AT" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-AT/" hreflang="en-AT" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/de-LI/" hreflang="de-LI" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-LI/" hreflang="en-LI" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/de/" hreflang="de-DE" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-DE/" hreflang="en-DE" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/el-CY/" hreflang="el-CY" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-CY/" hreflang="en-CY" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/el-GR/" hreflang="el-GR" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-GR/" hreflang="en-GR" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en/" hreflang="en-GB" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-IE/" hreflang="en-IE" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-NZ/" hreflang="en-NZ" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-SZ/" hreflang="en-SZ" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-ZA/" hreflang="en-ZA" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/es-ES/" hreflang="es-ES" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-ES/" hreflang="en-ES" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/et/" hreflang="et-EE" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-EE/" hreflang="en-EE" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/fi/" hreflang="fi-FI" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-FI/" hreflang="en-FI" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/fr-GF/" hreflang="fr-GF" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/fr-GP/" hreflang="fr-GP" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/fr-LU/" hreflang="fr-LU" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/fr-MQ/" hreflang="fr-MQ" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/fr-RE/" hreflang="fr-RE" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-FR/" hreflang="en-FR" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/fr/" hreflang="fr-FR" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/he/" hreflang="he-IL" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-IL/" hreflang="en-IL" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/hr/" hreflang="hr-HR" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-HR/" hreflang="en-HR" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/is/" hreflang="is-" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-IS/" hreflang="en-IS" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/it/" hreflang="it-IT" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-IT/" hreflang="en-IT" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/lt/" hreflang="lt-LT" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/lv/" hreflang="lv-LV" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/no/" hreflang="no-NO" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/pl/" hreflang="pl-PL" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-PL/" hreflang="en-PL" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/pt/" hreflang="pt-PT" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/ro/" hreflang="ro-RO" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/sk/" hreflang="sk-SK" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/sl/" hreflang="sl-SI" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/sv/" hreflang="sv-SE" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/es/" hreflang="es" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-SG/" hreflang="en-SG" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/hu/" hreflang="hu-HU" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-AE/" hreflang="en-AE" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-QA/" hreflang="en-QA" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en-BH/" hreflang="en-BH" /> 
<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en/" hreflang="en-US" />

What we want to do now, on the main root site, is to either remove it completely or change the last line from:

<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en/" hreflang="en-US" />

To:

<link rel="alternate" href="https://www.example.com/en/" hreflang="en" />

AND add the following line:

<link rel="alternate" href="https://us.example.com/" hreflang="en-US" />

Will this help Google to rank the subdomain higher?

Will it hurt our current rankings of the root domain? We're afraid that changing this will make bots crawl the subdomain by default instead of the main site, and this hurt our site.

I hope you can help me to figure this out. Your help is much appreciated in advance.

Thank you!

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  • 1
    That is a lot of bytes in each page dedicated to hreflang. Have you considered moving the hreflang info into the XML sitemap to reduce page size? Sep 6, 2023 at 8:59

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