We have the website www.visitgozo.com and would like to ask if there is a way where you can instruct Google (and other search engines) that when for example searching for 'gozo' in a local version of Google, e.g. google.it, the Italian version is shown www.visitgozo.com/it/ rather than the root domain of www.visitgozo.com which is in English.

Within the homepage, we are instructing search engines about the other languages available for that page through the link tags:

<link rel='alternate' href='http://www.visitgozo.com/es/' hreflang='es'/> 
<link rel='alternate' href='http://www.visitgozo.com/en/' hreflang='en'/> 
<link rel='alternate' href='http://www.visitgozo.com/de/' hreflang='de'/> 
<link rel='alternate' href='http://www.visitgozo.com/ru/' hreflang='ru'/> 
<link rel='alternate' href='http://www.visitgozo.com/it/' hreflang='it'/> 
<link rel='alternate' href='http://www.visitgozo.com/sv/' hreflang='sv'/> 
<link rel='alternate' href='http://www.visitgozo.com/fr/' hreflang='fr'/> 

Any insight about this?


  • I don't think hreflang sets the prefered page, I believe Google will associate the page by itself in time.. How long have you waited? Check microsoft.com/it-it/default.aspx (Google Microsoft on Google.it), they don't use hreflang and it pulls the relevant page. Also I'm assuming that all your pages have been professionally translated? and not using a tool? – Simon Hayter Dec 2 '13 at 13:55

If your root domain is English then one of your hreflang entries is wrong. It should be:

<link rel='alternate' href='http://www.visitgozo.com/ hreflang='en'/> 

Other than that technical problem, it also depends on the Pagerank of the pages for the different languages. Google will prefer them in time as they get links. Especially links from same-languages sites with your brand name (Gozo) in the anchor text.

  • Do you still have to specify an alternate language even though that page language is defined in the top <html> tag through the lang attribute? – markcassar Dec 3 '13 at 19:14
  • Yes. Google doesn't pay attention to the lang attribute in the html tag, they only mechanism that they have provided to specify page language is rel alternate. They also use language detection. – Stephen Ostermiller Dec 3 '13 at 20:06

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