Table of contents

When you intend to reach an international audience with your web presence, there are two ways to do this task - the 1:1 translation or the content localization. The first way is much easier because it includes the main text translation without additional analytical work like - audience analysis and segmentation, design, visual materials adaptation, preparing the entirely new semantic core, etc.

The advantage of localization is that the content will be directly relevant to individual markets, their unique requirements and nuances, written by people familiar with what matters to customers and their culture. Which way you will choose is based on your goals, resources, and project type. If you have a small website-landing page, it is optional to adapt content. But in the case of online stores, fintech, and corporative websites - localization is much more preferable.

No matter what you choose - the main thing you should think about from the start is how to deal with the multilingual website SEO - select the type of multilingual URLs (domains, subdomains, or subdirectories), create an organic promo strategy, and so on. If you have a translated page with the same or similar content, you should use the best SEO practices for multilingual websites is the hreflang attribute, which we want to overview in this article.

What is the hreflang?

Hreflang is an attribute that tells Google about the page where the content is just a variation for different languages. With it, you will prevent the issues when Google thinks that and are duplicated content. Search engines will be informed about related content, and users can be pointed to a specific site depending on their browser's language settings.

how to avoid duplicate content seo punishment with hreflang

Note: Google doesn't use hreflang or the HTML lang attribute to detect the language of a page; they use algorithms to determine the language.

To deal with multilingual SEO, it is recommended to consult with experts to ensure that your website is out of risk with all standard search engines. You can use the hreflang attribute not only for 1:1 translations of your content. Here are additional examples:

  • When there are minimal differences between internationalized content pages;
  • When your website is partially localized, you want to smooth out the experience for the user as much as possible.
  • If you have multiple sites in the same language but in different markets (serving,, and .au, for example.
  • When all your website is fully translated into multiple languages.
 <link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr-ca"
       href="" />
 <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-ca"
       href="" /> 

Here's an example of applying the hreflang attribute to signal two versions of your website for the Canadian market, one in French and one in English:


You can use SitemapXML, HTTP header, or HTML tag to tell Google about language variations for your content.

Sum up

When it comes to multilingual content, many shy away from going the extra mile in providing your customers with native language interaction. The latest research showed that 40% of customers would not buy anything if the resource did not have the content in their language. So assuming that customers should know English can steal a lot of profit from your business.

Usually, rolling out in more languages is less of a headache than it has to be, even if you are using the appropriate TMS. At Lingohub, we have a list of tools - from management to CAT that will make the localization process even faster and easier.

Contact us by scheduling a demo, and our team will answer all your questions.

Try lingohub 14 days for free. No credit card. No catch. Cancel anytime