Is it a Google Ranking Factor?

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Websites in multiple languages ​​allow you to target people based on their language preference.

But can using different languages ​​affect your organic search rank?

Read on to find out if there is a link between language and improved Google rankings.

The statement: language is a ranking factor

If you want to reach people who speak English, your content should be written in English.

However, that same English content is unlikely to rank well in markets where Chinese, Arabic, or Spanish are dominant.

Businesses that want to reach customers who speak different languages ​​in specific countries can do so by creating content in multiple languages.

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So it seems logical that language plays a role in how Google ranks web pages, doesn’t it?

You can tell search engines which language and country they are targeting using the following methods.

The first option is to use the hreflang attribute, which tells search engines the target language and country of the page.

The second option is to use the content language meta tag, which tells search engines the target language and country of the page.

In both examples, the hreflang and meta tags tell search engines that the page is intended for English speakers in the UK.

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You can use top level domain names for specific countries, such as https://domain.it/ for an Italian site. This tells search engines that the entire website is aimed at people in Italy.

Additionally, you can use subdirectories to separate content by language and country. An example would be the content found under https://domain.com/en-us/, which would target English speakers in the United States.

Proof that language is a ranking factor

Google offers detailed advice on managing multiregional and multilingual sites in the Advanced SEO section of Google Search Central. It explains how to notify Google about different language versions using the HTML tags, meta tags, and URL structures described above.

Additionally, Google mentions the language in its explanation of how search algorithms work. It is said:

“Search parameters are also an important indicator of the results that you are likely to find useful, for example if you set a preferred language or if you have chosen SafeSearch (a tool that allows you to filter explicit results). “

If a searcher sets English as the preferred language and Canada as the location, websites that target English speakers in Canada using the following methods would have a better chance of outperforming sites without any language or country specification:

  • https://domain.ca/en/
  • https://domain.com/en-ca/

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Google also recommends the use of canonical tags in certain situations.

“If you provide similar or duplicate content on different URLs in the same language as part of a multi-regional site (for example, if example.de/ and example.com/de/ have similar content in German), you should choose a preferred version and use the rel = “canonical” element and hreflang tags to ensure that the correct language or regional URL is provided to searchers.

In Google’s advanced SEO documentation on Duplicate URL Consolidation, they continue to discuss how canonical tags and language work together.

“Different language versions of the same page are only considered duplicates if the main content is in the same language (i.e. if only the header, footer and other non-critical texts are translated, but the body remains the same, then the pages are considered duplicates).

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Under their canonization dos and don’ts, they suggest:

“Specify a canonical page when using hreflang tags.” Specify a canonical page in the same language, or the best possible replacement language if there is no canonical for the same language.

Language as a ranking factor: our verdict

The language is discussed on Google’s page on how search algorithms work. You can also find a language in the advanced SEO documentation on Google Search Central.

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So while Google doesn’t officially confirm that this is a ranking factor, the language and country settings affect search visibility for users who specify a particular language and location.

Therefore, we are convinced that language is an anything but confirmed Google ranking factor.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita / SearchEngineJournal


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