What Does "Broken hreflang link" Mean?

Hreflang tags that link to URLs returns a 4xx or 5xx error.

Hreflang is a way to tell search engines that there are multiple versions of a page in different languages. This will help search engines serve visitors the most appropriate version of each URL by language or region.

Here's an example of hreflang tags for https://example.com/en-us/products, which is an English page targeting visitors in the United States that also has an English version targeting United Kingdom, a French version, a German version, and a default version available:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-us" href="https://example.com/en-us/products" />

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="https://example.com/en-gb/products" />

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="https://example.com/fr/products" />

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="https://example.com/de/products" />

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" href="https://example.com/products" />

Why It's Important

If the URL in a hreflang tag is not a valid page, search engines may ignore the tag completely. If this happens, it's possible search engines will get confused and the wrong version of the page could be ranked in a particular region or language.

For example, visitors from the UK could be served links to the US version of the page on search engines, or visitors from France could be served links to the Switzerland version.

How To Fix

The fix for a broken hreflang link will depend on the cause of this issue. Take a look at hreflang URLs in the table below and check for the most common causes:

  • If there is a typo or spelling mistake in the URL, link to ensure it points to a page that returns an HTTP 200 response.

  • If there is no corresponding page for this language/region but there should be, develop content for this page and add it at the broken link's location.

  • If there is no corresponding page for this language/region but you have no intention to offer one at this time, remove this hreflang link completely from every linking URL.

  • If the page existed previously at this location but has been moved, add a redirect to the new location or update the hreflang link on every linking URL.

Hreflang can be complicated. We recommend carefully reading Google's guidelines on hreflang and testing thoroughly before implementing any changes.

Did this answer your question?