The content of the website www.example.com is highly dependent on the country of the user, but not so much on his language. So far, the website is translate into two languages, "en" and "de", but it has content for many more countries: US, DE, IT, JP, AR.

As I understand the current search engines behaviors (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/189077), the following makes sense:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-US" href="http://www.example.com/united-states/"    />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-DE" href="http://www.example.com/germany/"   />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-IT" href="http://www.example.com/italy/"     />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-JP" href="http://www.example.com/japan/"     />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-AR" href="http://www.example.com/argentina/" />

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="de-US" href="http://www.example.com/de/united-states/"    />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="de-DE" href="http://www.example.com/de/germany/"   />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="de-IT" href="http://www.example.com/de/italy/"     />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="de-JP" href="http://www.example.com/de/japan/"     />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="de-AR" href="http://www.example.com/de/argentina/" />

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en"        href="http://www.example.com/"     />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" href="http://www.example.com/"     />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="de"        href="http://www.example.com/de/"  />

However, I would rather users go directly to http://www.example.com/italy/ if they are in Italy, even if their language is not en or de. But users with language different than en or de are directed primarily to http://www.example.com/ because of the hreflang="x-default" line. I would like to avoid this by all means: if the country of the user is set, I would like him to go directly to http://www.example.com/country/ even if his language is not supported.

It is possible to target a country independently of the language of the user ?
Such as the following imaginary lines

<!-- do not copy paste this to your site, href="x-JP" is NOT understood by search engines as of September 2014 -->
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-JP" href="http://www.example.com/japan/"     />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-AR" href="http://www.example.com/argentina/" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-IT" href="http://www.example.com/italy/" />

If not, what is the best alternative?

2 Answers 2


No you cannot do this using hreflang, they are primarily for language and location is optional, but you cannot just mark up the location:

Do not specify a country code by itself! Google does not automatically derive the language from the country code.

Use hreflang for language and regional URLs

I think the other option here is to try and detect what country they are in, then redirect them to the page you want. You could do this, and still use the 1st markup you posted

Info on this can be found here Redirection based on user's location


No you cannot add the x-JP wildcard as you want, but since your site is in English (EN) and German (DE) only, then you would do it like this:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-JP" href="http://www.example.com/japan/"     />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-AR" href="http://www.example.com/argentina/" />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-IT" href="http://www.example.com/italy/" />

Then in Google Webmaster Tools you would add each subdirectory and region targeted to the appropriate country (YES YOU CAN HAVE THE SAME SITE MULTIPLE TIMES IN WEBMASTER TOOLS):

http://www.example.com/italy/  (target italy)
http://www.example.com/japan/  (target japan)

Adding a bit of JavaScript to do a geo-location and redirect to appropriate site

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