Published on July 16th, 2014 | by Igal Stolpner

Google finally takes rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” into account

For a very long time, many SEOs were skeptical about the hreflang=”x” tag, simply because we didn’t feel that Google is taking it too seriously into account.

At, we launched a local Mexican site in addition to the Spanish one in the end of 2012, and for over a year most searches on would bring up the Spanish version of the site first.

  • It was very clear that Google simply prefers the original, older version of the site (ES).

It was only in the beginning of 2014 that we started seeing the first signs to the fact that Google is finally taking the hreflang tag into account, and from that moment, our Mexican edition started climbing very fast in the search results of Google MX.

Later in 2014, we decided to go for a bigger challenge, a UK version in the same language of our main site —the dot com.

When doing something like that your main concern is the original site and it’s all about making sure that it isn’t compromised.

  • Thanks to the rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-gb” tag, 2 months after launching the UK edition, not only that we don’t see any decreases beyond the traffic from the UK on the dot com, but almost all of’s results on are now dominated by our new UK edition.

In addition, what I find even more interesting is that since we launched the new edition, Google ranks us higher for over 85% of our tracked keywords in the UK. This simply means that by creating an additional, alternative-local edition, Google gives us (additional) priority in that country.


  1. In 2014, Google takes the hreflang=”x” tag into account, probably more than ever before.
  2. Even with sub domains, Google definitely prefers a local edition -> even if its Authority metrics are much lower and the sub domain is completely new.



About the Author

is the VP Growth at, a financial markets platform with 31 localized web editions, 100M monthly sessions and over 1 billion monthly pageviews. I joined the company as the first employee in 2007, and was the Head of SEO until 2014. While SEO is still the biggest part of who I am, today my team and I handle PR, branding, Social Media, Email, Data, and everything around Growth Hacking. I'm passionate about web product, mobile, tech and UX. In my spare time I'm an Affiliate Marketer, love Travel and Music, but before everything else I'm a family guy.

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