Is It Correct To Use Hreflang In Link Alternate Tags To Suggest Region-specific Alternatives, To Evade Them Being Determined Duplicates?

- 1 answer

Please help me out here people so that I can give a middle finger to the small firm where I was the sole web developer, from which I was sacked after only 2 days into a trial.

So, for just an afternoon, they asked me to look into their SEO markup. Which I did.

They were using Magento, and using subdomains with separate instances to market a slightly different product set and slightly different pricing to different countries under au.subdomain, uk.subdomain, can.subdomain etc. Pants way of doing it I know but I'm thinking heyho, let's see what I can do.

To try and avoid their content being considered duplicate by search engines, they were using link tags pointing to alternates with hreflang pointing to language codes, for example en_GB, en_US to point to their respective UK and US sites on each of their pages on each of their subdomains, where relevant.

This wasn't completely new to me, but in terms of internationalised sites was a little alien because the approach I took with Drupal was different.

Nevertheless, I looked into it, and decided their approach was wrong. Because their situation was region-centric and not language-centric.

I tried to explain that to them, that while yes it's possible to specify a region alongside a language, it indicates a regional variant of a language, not a language and the region which you are targeting. I.e. you could be speaking British English in the USA.

I was told I was wrong, that this was an industry standard way of approaching the situation, and that my understanding was dated.

The next day I was fired because apparently my SEO technical understanding wasn't up to scratch.

You know when you think surely what I said was right but you doubt yourself?! Would appreciate any thoughts, was I right? ☹️



The definition of hreflang says it uses BCP47 tags, which clearly defines region subtags as regional linguistic variations.

This says you're technically correct on the semantics of hreflang; it doesn't say anything about whether you're correct on the way it is used as standard in the SEO industry (on which I have no insight).