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We have a website for a restaurant that is in 5 different countries, all pages are in English at present:

  • http://www.example.com/bangkok/en/
  • http://www.example.com/dubai/en/
  • http://www.example.com/hong-kong/en/
  • http://www.example.com/istanbul/en/
  • http://www.example.com/london/en/
  • http://www.example.com/miami/en/

I'm thinking of marking up the site with hreflang=, but then I had a thought. Could doing this actually impede the country specific page appearing in different country Google searches? As the multinational aims of this site are bit different, we still want the country specific page to appear in different countries results, not the alternative URL.

e.g. Most pages rank rather well in what ever countries Google you are searching in. The Bangkok page appears on page 1 of most country Google searches for searches such as:

  • '(keyword) restaurant in bangkok'
  • 'best (keyword) restaurant in bangkok'
  • etc

But if I was to implement hreflang=, might this 'confuse' Google and try and rank the wrong page?

For example, some one searching from the US types in 'restaurant in Bangkok' but due to the rel="alternate", Google tries to return the Miami page, or it hampers the chance of the Bangkok page ranking.

So I'm thinking that perhaps not bother with the markup, as the situation is a bit different. What are your thoughts.

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    The alternate hreflang is to specify the same page is available in a different language. It has nothing to do with different location. Google might just ignore the tag if you add it (or worse, consider all these as the same page), but this is not the intended usage. – Noam Aug 15 '13 at 11:04
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    That's not entirely true. You can use it to mark up pages in the same language, but are in different countries. Google give exmaples of this on their help pages: support.google.com/webmasters/answer/189077?hl=en 'Your pages have broadly similar content within a single language, but the content has small regional variations. For example, you might have English-language content targeted at readers in the US, GB, and Ireland' – Max Aug 15 '13 at 14:09
  • Alternate hreflang is to specify the same page is available in a different language or for a different country. The key is "same page". Pages about different restaurant locations are different pages. – Stephen Ostermiller Jul 27 '17 at 10:21
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hreflang is used to specify that a link is for an intended localised audience. It shouldn't harm your rankings to include specific hreflang codes for the specific links. You can always test it on one page and monitor the ranking changes.

However, don't confuse hreflang with localisation. You have to ask yourself what is the intended audience?

If the intended audience for (say) http://www.example.com/bangkok/en/ is specifically people in Bangkok then you should probably server two versions of that content, one in the actual regional language and one in English and denote the pages using the appropriate language code. I'd consider setting up a separate website with localised domain for each restaurant in that case.

But if your intended audience is English speaking international travellers then it should remain in English and probably not be targeted to any particular country.

For further info read How reliably does Google determine a user's region, in order to pick the right hreflang option (specifically en-gb vs. en-nz)?

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