I read https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/139066 but still would like to 'double check'.

Following situation:

Webshop with 3 languages (German, French, English).

Every page has the correct canoncical set.

Now we would like set the alternate links with hreflang attributes to reference the respective versions of the product page in other languages.

For technical reasons (cloud-based system) we only can generate links like

  • a) example.com/p-1234567

While the correct page address (and the URL to be found in the targets canoncial link element) would be

  • b) example.com/seo_base_words_for_url/p-1234567


Is it 'valid' to have alternate link 'a' to a page with the canonical 'b'? Will Google index it (only link 'b' ) correctly?

The way I understand the topic this is the perfect use or sole purpose for canonical to begin with.

I read Should I include the current language code in <link rel="alternate" hreflang="" />? as well, and in the light of this, it would be even more interesting to have good answer to this question. As the 'rel' link have to be A <--> B (confirmed) and self referencing.

2 Answers 2


Nope, you cannot link to Page A in your hreflang markup if page A says it's a duplicate of page B. You'll end up getting errors in Google Search Console for missing return tags.

  • A never says it is a duplicate of B, B only communicates the correct canonical url of itself (B). Please let me know if this cleared things up and I will change the question above accordingly. Jul 21, 2016 at 9:54
  • Not clear from your question if you are linking to the canonical version or not. What is the URL where you are having this problem? What I said is if page C says hreflang link for de is page A but on page A you have a canonical tag that points to the original (page B), then you should link directly to page B from page C's hreflang tag.
    – tinkerr
    Aug 2, 2016 at 22:59
  • Please take a look at www.louisxv.de , I got the task to work on some of the language related SEO issues. You will see that within a product there is a hreflang to lets say example.com/p-1234567. When you follow this link the canonical within the site is actually example.com/seo_base_words_for_url/p-1234567. So the main question which I tried to get solved is will the longer (correct) url be indexed? Aug 17, 2016 at 15:07
  • That site is doing it wrong. e.g., louisxv.de/en/chest-of-drawers/… has an hreflang link to short URLs. But these short URLs redirect to their canonical long versions. So your Hreflang links should point to the long canonical versions.
    – tinkerr
    Aug 19, 2016 at 14:36
  • This was/is kind of the question here. Will google punish for using a short version for Hreflang which itself points to the correct long version as canonical. The problem here is that the software used is SAAS and we do not have access to the code to really change such things. Nov 3, 2016 at 16:15

Daniel - not sure I understand the question but here is a possible clarification.

Note: The Canonical and HREFLang are not interchangeable. If you use the URL for A on B in the canonical B will never be indexed.

For example Page A Code

Page B Code

Page A has both HREFLang elements and a canonical to itself

Page B has both HREFLang Elements and a canonical to itself

The primary purpose of the canonical is to make this the primary URL if you add any tracking parameters and has nothing to do with HREFLang and making it the dominate page on the site.

Here is an article that may help http://hrefbuilder.com/incorrect-global-canonicals (my blog on hreflang issues)

  • Please disclose any affiliation you have with links you place in your post
    – John Conde
    Jul 28, 2016 at 16:51
  • Hello Bill, thanks for taking the time to respond to my question. I responded again to @tinkerr to solve the issue. Maybe this comment also clears things up for you. Aug 17, 2016 at 15:09

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