If you are trying to reach audiences of various languages, Google released a markup that especially pertains to you. As we see growth in the Spanish language here in the US, as well as the expansion of other languages throughout the world, it is imperative to make it easier for users to find and read content in their native language. Google is aware of this need and has released a multilingual markup that can help address this issue.  On Google’s Webmaster Blog they have stated:

Today we’re going further with our support for multilingual content with improved handling for these two scenarios:

  • Multiregional websites using substantially the same content. Example: English webpages for Australia, Canada and USA, differing only in price
  • Multiregional websites using fully translated content, or substantially different monolingual content targeting different regions. Example: a product webpage in German, English and French
This will be a great tool for many businesses, and you may feel that this kind of tool will help your business as well.
How do you go about using this is the “<rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” href=”http://es.example.com/”>”   tag?  Again from Google:

To explain how it works, let’s look at some example URLs:

  • http://www.example.com/ – contains the general homepage of a website, in Spanish
  • http://es-es.example.com/ – is the version for users in Spain, in Spanish
  • http://es-mx.example.com/ – is the version for users in Mexico, in Spanish
  • http://en.example.com/ – is the generic English language version

On all of these pages, we could use the following markup to specify language and optionally the region:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="http://www.example.com/" /> 
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="es-ES" href="http://es-es.example.com/" /> 
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="es-MX" href="http://es-mx.example.com/" /> 
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="http://en.example.com/" />  

If you specify a regional subtag, we’ll assume that you want to target that region.
Keep in mind that all of these annotations are to be used on a per-URL basis. You should take care to use the specific URL, not the homepage, for both of these link elements.

This may seem a little confusing to some, but ultimately it is giving your users information about your products in a language they understand. Talk with your webmaster to make sure that this happens properly.  If you need help, Google has more help on their support page.

Please post any comments or questions in the comments section. Let us know what you think and if you find this useful or not.

Source: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/12/new-markup-for-multilingual-content.html