Use of hreflang in the <head>

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Use of hreflang in the <head>

Erik Moeller-4
Hi folks,

MediaWiki emits the hreflang attribute on language links, but only as part
of the links in the body, and not in the <head> as recommended by Google
[1]. The result of this is that Google (and possibly other search engines)
doesn't interpret the hreflang attribute for purposes of prioritizing
search results in the user's own language.

From a contact at Google we asked about this: "we currently don't use those
annotations on the links, we need to see the hreflang link-elements in the
head in order to understand that connection. The important parts there are
the we need to have them in the "head", we need to have them confirmed from
the other versions (so DE needs to refer to EN, and EN to DE -- it can't be
one-sided), and it needs to be between the canonical URLs. (...)  I imagine
if you just added the cross-links as you have them in the sidebar as
link-elements to the head then you'd be covered."

This of course would add some additional payload to pages with lots of
language links, but could help avoid results like [2] where the English
language version of an article is #1 and the Indonesian one makes no
appearance at all. Results vary greatly and it's hard to say how big a
problem this is, but even if boosts discoverability of content in the
user's language by only 10% or so, that would still be a pretty big win for
local content.

I'm curious if folks see any downside, other than the additional page
payload, in adding this information to the page header. Given the time it
takes for the index to be updated, we should be careful about any potential
negative consequences.

Thanks,
Erik

[1] https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/189077?hl=en
[2] https://www.google.co.id/?gws_rd=ssl#q=edison

--
Erik Möller
VP of Product & Strategy, Wikimedia Foundation
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Re: Use of hreflang in the <head>

Daniel Friesen-2
On 2015-02-09 2:16 AM, Erik Moeller wrote:
> This of course would add some additional payload to pages with lots of
> language links, but could help avoid results like [2] where the English
> language version of an article is #1 and the Indonesian one makes no
> appearance at all. Results vary greatly and it's hard to say how big a
> problem this is, but even if boosts discoverability of content in the
> user's language by only 10% or so, that would still be a pretty big win for
> local content.
I think we used to have <link>s in the head (though the exact
implementation may have been wrong), if it wasn't a problem then it
wouldn't be one now.

Also if it really is a problem for Wikipedia Google also supports
getting this data from the sitemap.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2620865?hl=en

So if it's a problem we could upgrade the sitemap generator to include
this data (maybe as an extra parameter) and we could have a config
setting that disables the <head> output.

That should work out pretty well.
Small wiki setups don't have many language links so <link>s in the
<head> aren't an issue.
And if a wiki setup is big enough to have an issue, then it's probably
big enough to be using sitemaps.

~Daniel Friesen (Dantman, Nadir-Seen-Fire) [http://danielfriesen.name/]


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Re: Use of hreflang in the <head>

Brian Wolff
On Feb 9, 2015 7:07 AM, "Daniel Friesen" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> On 2015-02-09 2:16 AM, Erik Moeller wrote:
> > This of course would add some additional payload to pages with lots of
> > language links, but could help avoid results like [2] where the English
> > language version of an article is #1 and the Indonesian one makes no
> > appearance at all. Results vary greatly and it's hard to say how big a
> > problem this is, but even if boosts discoverability of content in the
> > user's language by only 10% or so, that would still be a pretty big win
for
> > local content.
> I think we used to have <link>s in the head (though the exact
> implementation may have been wrong), if it wasn't a problem then it
> wouldn't be one now.
>

I think we still do for lang converter.

--bawolff
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Re: Use of hreflang in the <head>

Federico Leva (Nemo)
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-4
This appears to be tracked at https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T3433
It was reverted in 2009 for (alleged) l10n issues, which should be
solvable. FWIW we just saved 4 KB per page with
https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/#/c/177501/

Nemo

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