We have a site primarily targeted at the UK market, and are adding a US-market alternative. As per Google's recommendations:

To indicate to Google that you want the German version of the page to be served to searchers using Google in German, the en-us version to searchers using google.com in English, and the en-gb version to searchers using google.co.uk in English, use rel="alternate" hreflang="x" to identify alternate language versions.

Which gives us:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="http://www.example.com/page.html" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-us" href="http://www.example.com/us/page.html" />

We do get enquiries from other areas of the world - particularly where there are expat communities (Dubai, UAE, Portugal etc). By adding the above tags, is there a risk that Google will only surface our site for UK and US search users? Do we need to specify a catch-all that will default all other searches to our UK site?

migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 13 '12 at 13:13

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  • Thanks @Pekka, I wasn't sure - but there are a few hreflang questions on SO, and I'd personally consider it an HTML implementation question. – adam Dec 13 '12 at 12:49
  • Hi @adam...what were the results of this implementation? I'm facing a similar issue. I was given a Portuguese translation for Brazil but people are expecting it to show up for all Portuguese users so I'm going back and forth on what the proper implementation would be. To target a region or not to target a region. – brandozz Nov 14 '16 at 14:53
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The idea of the rel="alternate" hreflang="xx-XX", as I understand it, is ultimately to stop duplicate (or near duplicate) content that is intended for discrete regions from competing with itself or being actively penalised as duplicate content.

So the specification of alternates won't stop them from showing in search in regions that aren't targeted (or indeed, those that are). Of course, the content isn't optimised for those regions and therefore will likely not perform to its fullest potential in search engines local to UAE etc. That said, I imagine a lot of expats use their "own" search engine (e.g., if I was in UAE, I'd probably use google.co.uk), which should negate most of the issue.

Also, if any of those places becomes a more significant market in their own right, it's only a matter of creating and targeting content in the same way you have fore the US and GB to fix it.

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