Mastering Hreflang Tags – Best Practices for Implementing No Self Referencing Hreflang



Introduction to Hreflang Tags

Hreflang tags are an essential element of international SEO. These tags help search engines understand the language and regional targeting of your website’s pages. By implementing hreflang tags correctly, you can ensure that your content is being served to the right audience, improving user experience and search rankings.

Using hreflang tags is especially important for websites that have content in multiple languages or target different regions. By providing clear signals to search engines, you can minimize the risk of duplicate content issues and ensure that your website is effectively targeting the intended audience.

Understanding No Self Referencing Hreflang

Self-referencing hreflang tags are hreflang tags that point to the same page they are placed on. While it may seem intuitive to include these self-referencing tags, they can actually cause more harm than good. Let’s explore the issues and challenges associated with using self-referencing hreflang tags.

What are self-referencing hreflang tags?

Self-referencing hreflang tags are tags that have both the “href” attribute and the “rel=alternate” attribute pointing to the same page. For example: <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=””>. This creates a loop that confuses search engines and can lead to incorrect indexing or content duplication.

Issues and challenges with self-referencing hreflang tags

There are two primary issues that arise when using self-referencing hreflang tags:

Duplicate content concerns

When search engines encounter self-referencing hreflang tags, they may interpret the content as duplicates of each other. This can negatively affect your website’s search rankings, as search engines may not display the correct version of your pages in the search results.

Incorrect language or regional targeting

Self-referencing hreflang tags can also lead to incorrect language or regional targeting. Search engines rely on these tags to understand which language or region each page is intended for. When self-referencing tags are present, search engines may not correctly identify the intended targeting, resulting in your content being shown to the wrong audience.

Best Practices for Implementing No Self Referencing Hreflang

To avoid the issues associated with self-referencing hreflang tags, it’s crucial to follow best practices for implementing proper hreflang tags. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your hreflang implementation is free from self-referencing tags.

Conducting a comprehensive website audit

Before making any changes, conduct a thorough audit of your website to identify existing hreflang tags. This will help you understand the scope of the implementation and identify any existing self-referencing tags.

During this audit, pay close attention to pages that have multiple language or regional versions. These are the pages where hreflang tags are most critical and where self-referencing tags are most likely to be found.

Correcting self-referencing hreflang tags

If you find any self-referencing hreflang tags during your audit, take immediate action to correct them. Here’s how:

Auditing language and regional targeting

Review the language and regional targeting of each page. Make sure that the hreflang tags accurately reflect the intended audience for each page. Check for any inconsistencies or errors in language or regional codes.

Removing or updating self-referencing hreflang tags

Once you have identified the self-referencing hreflang tags, remove or update them to ensure they no longer point to the same page. Use separate hreflang tags for each language or region, properly specifying the “href” attribute to the corresponding URL. This will help search engines understand the language and regional targeting correctly.

Implementing no self-referencing hreflang tags

Once you have rectified the self-referencing hreflang tag issues, it’s time to implement the correct hreflang tags. Follow these steps to ensure their proper implementation:

Setting up correct language and regional targeting

For each page, set up correct language and regional targeting by using the appropriate hreflang tags. Use the “hreflang” attribute to specify the language or regional code, and the “href” attribute to point to the correct URL for each language or region.

Properly linking canonical tags

In addition to implementing hreflang tags, it’s crucial to properly link canonical tags. Canonical tags indicate the preferred version of a web page when multiple versions exist. Ensure that the canonical tag points to the correct URL and matches the language or regional targeting specified in the hreflang tags.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When implementing hreflang tags, it’s important to avoid certain common mistakes that can hinder their effectiveness. Here are three mistakes to steer clear of:

Using inaccurate language or regional codes

Ensure that you use accurate language or regional codes in your hreflang tags. Using incorrect or outdated codes can confuse search engines and impact the targeting of your content. Stay up to date with the latest ISO language and regional codes when implementing hreflang tags.

Ignoring the importance of hreflang tags

Some website owners underestimate the importance of hreflang tags or overlook their implementation. This can be a costly mistake, as it leads to misalignment between content and audience, ultimately affecting search rankings and user experience. Embrace hreflang tags as a crucial aspect of international SEO.

Relying solely on automated tools for implementation

While automated tools can be helpful in identifying hreflang issues, it’s important not to rely solely on them for implementation. Manual checks and audits are necessary to ensure hreflang tags are correctly implemented, and self-referencing tags are eliminated.

Advanced Tips and Techniques

Once you have mastered the basics of implementing hreflang tags without self-referencing, you can explore advanced techniques to further enhance your international SEO strategy. Here are a few tips to consider:

Implementing hreflang tags for multilingual websites

For websites with multiple languages, it’s crucial to set up hreflang tags for each language version of your pages. Take into account the language nuances and regional targeting to provide the best user experience and improve search rankings.

Handling complex language and regional targeting scenarios

In some cases, language and regional targeting can be complex. For example, a website may have content specific to a particular region within a language. In such cases, consider implementing language and regional combinations in your hreflang tags to ensure accurate targeting.

Leveraging hreflang tags for international SEO strategies

Hreflang tags can be a powerful tool in your international SEO strategy. Explore ways to leverage them further, such as using them in combination with geo-targeting or implementing them across subdomains or ccTLDs to cater to different regions more effectively.

Monitoring and Maintaining Hreflang Tags

Once you have implemented hreflang tags correctly, it’s important to regularly monitor and maintain them to ensure their ongoing effectiveness. Here’s how:

Regularly checking for errors or inconsistencies

Periodically review your website to check for any hreflang errors or inconsistencies. Use tools like Google Search Console to identify any issues and rectify them promptly.

Tracking performance and impact on search rankings

Monitor the performance and impact of your hreflang tags on search rankings and user engagement metrics. Keep an eye on changes in search visibility, traffic, and user behavior to assess the effectiveness of your hreflang implementation.

Updating hreflang tags with changes or additions to content

As your website evolves, it’s crucial to keep your hreflang tags up to date. Whenever you add new content or make significant changes to existing pages, update the hreflang tags accordingly to avoid any targeting issues.


No self-referencing hreflang tags are a critical component of an effective international SEO strategy. By avoiding self-referencing hreflang tags and following the best practices outlined in this post, you can ensure that your website’s content is accurately targeted to the right language and regional audience.

Remember to conduct a comprehensive website audit, correct any self-referencing hreflang tags, and implement the correct hreflang tags for each page. Monitor and maintain your hreflang tags regularly to keep them up to date and effective.

By prioritizing proper hreflang implementation, you can improve your website’s visibility in search engines, attract the right audience, and provide a seamless user experience across languages and regions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *